The French do many things really well. Hungry? Try the snails. Thirsty? How about a nice Bordeaux? Horny? They invented. . . well, never mind. And today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe R5 proves they know hot cars too.
The Chevy V8 nestled snuggly under the engine cover of yesterday's '86 Fiero would have made it an archie rival to many a comer, a fact not lost on the 69% of you who voted it a Nice Price winner. Heh, heh, heh - sixty nine.
Today we're giving the big eights a rest, but we'll stick with sticking the engine back over our shoulders, only this time it's with a French twist. Making hot versions of plebeian commuter cars is nothing new, but only a few have gone to the extent of moving the engine and driven wheels from one end to another. That's an undertaking akin to making cassoulet, or keeping a French soldier's hands below his shoulders. Still, that's exactly what Renault did in creating the R5 Turbo 2.
This 1985 example currently resides in Arizona, making its HVAC temp control's predominately red graduations seem almost comical, that is it would be if it weren't so damn hot. Like yesterday's Pontiac, this Renault was born in the ‘80s, rocks a white paint job, looks relatively clean, and keeps its engine behind its two seats. But there the two cars diverge significantly. The Turbo 2's bulging haunches, duck's-ass spoiler, and front air dam that looks like Billy Gibbons' beard stand in stark contrast to the Pontiac's almost effete lines and lack of adornment. While the Fiero might be sleeker, the bulldog stance of the R5 is more memorable and makes it a car you'd just as soon chest-bump and share beers with as drive.
Helping in the looks department are a set of split alloy Gotti rims. The rest of the outside is pure Turbo 2, which means batshit insane flares and ducts, and it all looks as good today as it did back when Bush the elder was telling us to read his lips. Inside you'll find the Turbo 2 has a whole lot more R5 in it than did the Turbo 1, with this car sharing the standard R5's dash and door panels. Also this Turbo 2's thrones are beige rather than the electric orange or blue of the earlier cars. Down where your feet go it has a pair of floor mats that look suspiciously like they're out of a Porsche 930, due to their turbo scripting.
The R5's hemi-head 1,397-cc inline four pumps out 185-bhp aided by a Garrett T3 turbo and intercooler. Aftermarket upgrades can wring close to 300 ponies out of the tiny pushrod motor, but even with the 185, Car and Driver managed to do sixty from a standstill in 6.5 seconds. Top speed is a barn-door like 124 mph, but the 2,144-lb car's real forte is carving up canyons, and there's little out there that can touch it when the road gets its knickers in a twist.
While Renault never officially brought the Turbo to America, out of spite over our not buying the standard R5 (the Alliance was payback too) a herd of them now ply our highways thanks to private importers. This car is sporting Arizona plates as well as U.S.-spec side marker lights, so if it stopped by the cops due to that state's new immigration law, its papers should all be in order. The 7,039 miles on the clock mean it should have plenty of run left in it if they aren't.
On the downside, the seller says that it needs new fluid hoses because if let dormant too long it refuses to start. That sounds suspiciously like bullshit, but who knows. Regardless, a full inspection by a mechanic who knows his R5 Turbos, and preferably eats snails, would be a good idea before laying down the $32,000 that this seller thinks it will take to relieve him of the car.
Knowing their provenance, and rarity, as well as this car's apparent condition, what do you think of that price? Is thirty-two large a sum you'd surrender for a white flag-hued R5 Turbo 2? Or, like mimes and Jerry Lewis, do you simply not understand its appeal at that price?
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