R5 Turbo 2 for Le $27,000!

Thanksgiving is getting close and you may need to be prepared if asked to carve the turkey. Nice Price or Crack Pipe thinks you should practice on some canyons, and has a Renault that's pretty sharp for the task.

It turns out $18,500 for a Mini ragtop doesn't let the sunshine in, as 73% of you pointed out with your Crack Pipe votes yesterday. If that British icon didn't crown your jewels, let's hop over the channel and take a look at a frog that got turned into a prince which just might warm your brie.

The R5 Turbo was planned as a WRC racer, intended to dominate the tarmac events across Europe. To that end, it did win at Monte Carlo, and took the chequered twice at the Tour De Corse. Up against the mighty all-wheel drive competitors from Audi, Peugeot and Lancia, the rear-driven R5 never captured the ultimate goal of a WRC title.

The basis for the R5 Turbo was, of course, the R5, or Le Car here in the States. Tiny, slow, and of dubious reliability, the 5 seemed an odd choice upon which to mount a serious factory racing effort. But while popping out R5s to pay the bills, Louis Renault's namesake was using some of those profits to invest in hyper-horsepower turbo engines for Formula One. In a you got your peanut butter turbo in my chocolate R5 rear end moment, their engineers realized that WRC cars needed horsepower, but not back seats and the R5 Turbo was born from that F1 technology and Le Car body.

The result of that mating arrived wearing only the roof and window glass of the plebeian R5, but looked enough like its dad that paternity testing wouldn't be required. Homologation requirements meant producing road-going versions of the rally car, however none of those was deemed appropriate for U.S. shores, where we got the Alliance and Encore instead.

A few, including today's 1985 Turbo II have been brought in by private owners, as well as about 200 that were imported and federalized by Sun International Racing, of Manhattan Beach, Calif. They show up from time to time in the classifieds, and in fact this one has come up on more than one occasion - appearing on the market for $35,000 a little more than a year ago. Like many near-exotics it's current price reflects a diminished demand for such investments.

Powering the R5 T2 is Renault's 1.4-liter pushrod four, fitted with a big-valve Alpine hemi head, and intercooled AirResearch T03 turbocharger. That was good for 160-bhp in standard trim, and the 5-speed close-ratio gearbox from the R30 was stout enough to handle those ponies.

While the first version rocked a county lockup jumpsuit-orange interior, unique seats and blue- or red-only paint. The Turbo II, as exemplified here, changed that out for a wider color palette and standard R5 GT interior trim. That makes it a pretty nice place to be while using the car for its intended purpose- switchback sailing - and, if you keep it in the revs, it's good for 6 ticks to sixty. Maintaining boost is critical to keeping the car from getting bogged down as there is some lag and torque is mostly just a theory below 3K rpm.

Another thing that'll need to be rev'd up is your bank account because this R5 is asking $27,000 for driving privileges. As I noted, it was on the market last year for nearly a 30% premium, and If it's not selling now, maybe it'll come down even further. So what do you think, is it time to jump on this little frog at $27,000? Or, is that price still le creuset de crack?

You decide!

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