Renault is this year celebrating the 40th anniversary of its first win in Formula 1 – significantly with a turbo engine which had pioneered two years earlier.
To mark the occasion 11 Renault turbos were on display at Retromobile. The line-up also gave the 132,000 visitors to the five-day event further insight into Renault’s transfer of turbo technology from motor sport to production vehicles.
Among the 11 cars were five firm favourites among Renault Sport enthusiasts:
F1 RS10 (1979)
This is the car with which Renault achieved its first F1 race victory – significantly, in its home French Grand Prix at Dijon.
The win, taken by French driver Jean-Pierre Jabouille, fully vindicated Renault’s decision to boldly enter F1 two years earlier with turbo technology – sniffed at by many at the time.
The Renault-Gordini EF1 engine was of a 90-degree, V6 1.5-litre design with four valves per cylinder. Weighing around 180kgs with clutch, starter and twin-turbocharged (supercharger) system, it revved to around 12,000rpm (producing an estimated 500bhp at 11,000rpm).
5 Turbo (1980)
This became one of Renault’s most iconic high performance production cars thanks to its outrageous mid-engine design, rear wheel drive characteristics and distinctive gurgling noise.
Power initially from the 1.4-litre motor was nothing special by today’s standards – around 160bhp at 6,400rpm. No matter; the car soon became a much-loved weapon of choice in competition circles.
It formed the basis for a one-make race series that supported F1 grands prix across Europe in the early 1980s, but its greatest triumph was victory in the Monte Carlo Rally at the hands of Renault ‘legend’ Jean Ragnotti in 1983.
5 Alpine Turbo (1981)
Before the 5 Turbo was the 5 Alpine – the most ‘athletic’ of the 5 range, launched in 1976. Then along came the Turbo version (1981).
Already fitted with a 1.4 engine, the fitting of a turbocharger suddenly took power levels from 93hp up to 110hp.
The model was capable of 185kmh and could be fitted with a few extras such as 5 Turbo-style wheel rims and power steering.
Ultimately this became the highest-performance small car for sports use on the market…
5 GT Turbo (1985)
The successor to the 5 Alpine Turbo, this remains a firm favourite among motoring enthusiasts lucky enough to sample or own one.
Its handling characteristics were excellent, while power was around the 115bhp mark and top speed nudged 200kmh.
It, too, became a hugely popular in competition on race circuits and rally stages: a pan-European Renault 5 GT Cup was launched (Renault UK ran its own stand-along race championship for the model from 1985-1990) and it also won two Group N title in the World Rally Championship.
Mégane R.S. Trophy (2018)
Following the launch of the new Mégane R.S., Renault Sport has been quick to come out with a version bearing the hallowed Trophy emblem.
With 300hp on tap, this is the most powerful production car ever made by Renault. The car also continues the much celebrated Mégane R.S. line that dates back some 15 years…
Rear-wheel-steering to further improve rear-end stability at higher speeds is among several technical innovations. These spread to the car’s 1.8-litre turbocharged engine whose design uses tricks learnt from Renault’s F1 adventures.