French industrialist, Louis Renault died in prison after being convicted of collaborating with the Germans during the occupation. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe R5 Turbo 2 could occupy a lot of your time, but does its price make it collaboration worthy?
Automobile in America
Chromium steel in America
Wire-spoke wheel in America
Very big deal in America!
I'll drive a Buick through San Juan (if there's a road you can drive on). . .
As West Side Story proved, Buick and America go way back together, and there's nothing more American than a red hot Buick Grand National that can do under ten seconds in the quarter mile. Patriotism only goes so far however, and that G-body's thirty five grand asking price proved too much for the 76% of you who found its cost made your flags flutter limply at half mast.
When considering some place that's, well not anti-American, or even necessarily un-American, but more antithetically American, you probably needn't look farther than the République Française. Birthplace of invisible box-inhabiting mimes, cinema vérité, and wines the attributes of which are described in terms of their cow shittiness, France prides itself in being as unlike the U.S. of A as possible. And nowhere is that more obvious than in the way they hot rod their cars.
In the U.S. we make our cars faster by cramming the biggest engine possible under the hood of what is nominally a small car - however small by our standards still means big enough not to have to smell the Taco Bell farts from either front of rear seat respectively. In France, the cars start out a lot smaller, and if they have Taco Bell there the resultant flatus would have to compete with the earthiness that a populace shunning deodorant acquires. Today's 1985 rabid Renault not only doesn't do the gargantuan engine thing, but it hides its turbocharged 1.4 in the back, someplace Americans would never think to look!
The R5 Turbo 2 was the less batshit crazy pants of the R5 Turbo family, and is the much more common to show up here in the U.S. than the T1, despite neither ever being officially imported. Back when these were being knocked out by Régie Renault back in brie-land, the company was too busy trying to translate French into Wisconsin and figuring out ways to make Alliances and Encores out of paper mâché to spend any time federalizing their top 5. There were a bunch of Turbo 2s that were brought into the US and were certified for sale here with significant changes to their emission systems and safety equipment. Those come with BAR stickers and are usually able to be registered in all 50 states.
This isn't one of those. Instead it appears to be from a market so grey you might need a fog horn to traverse its aisles. It has all the Frenchy goodness and none of the American pie that quelled its claim as being the fastest car built in France at the time. From the factory the 1,397-cc turbocharged OHV four put out 160-bhp, which might not seem like much but is enough to propel the 2,140-lb coupe to sixty in six and a half ticks.
Handling of the Turbo 2 is go-kart like in that it has an extremely short wheelbase and significant rear-weight bias. Add to that turbo lag you could time octagenarian coitus with and you've got one entertaining ride. This particular one appears to be the same car that was on eBay back in January for seventeen-five, and at that time it was claimed to rock a 230-bhp engine rebuilt by Ron Horvath. Along with that mightier mouse of a motor, the car has also been (poorly, from the sound of the ad) resprayed, and has had its headliner go missing, requiring one of those program inserts noting the role of the headliner will today be performed by an expanse of bare metal roof. What's been done since January to rationalize the added asking? Who knows?
You do get both a set of factory TRX wheels, as well as the 15" Revolutions presently under the car's fenders, which are outrageously flared. Either way the seller says new tires are in the cards for the new owner. Other problems are seats that he says are sort of Sharpei-like and an overall running condition that could stand some ‘fine tuning' despite a bunch of replacement parts. With a claimed 45,000 miles on its clock, this R5 does seem to have had a lot of work done to it - with some still to go. If you're a roll up your sleeves kind of owner, that may not scare you too much, although parts availability and cost potentially could.
The flip side to this being a work in progress is an asking price that's way below the usual Turbo 2 fare. That $22,500 for this R5 T2 might cause an audible merde! from even the most dedicated of mimes, and those whose avocation does not involve fighting non-existent wind might even consider overlooking the car's obvious pitfalls due to it being so cheap in relation. But is it a deal? For those living in the state of California who also aren't in the state of denial, this is pretty much a forbidden fruit - its replacement of emission compliant hardware with copious quantities of NOx - but for the rest of the country, would this make for a good deal? Or, is that price the French kiss of death?
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