Image: Christian Woiwode/eBay
Image: Christian Woiwode/eBay

The Renault Twingo is one of the greatest compact cars ever designed. Its design brilliance is the reason why “Twingo Tuesday” is a thing in the car community, and it’s also the reason why these dirt-cheap models for sale in Germany need to be saved. Like, right now.

More than anything, I’m writing this post because I stay awake at night in a slimy sweat worried about the fate of Europe’s Renault Twingo population. The little front-drive, flat folding seat-having French hatchbacks are pretty much worthless on the continent, especially in Germany, and this concerns me deeply.

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Image: Christian Woiwode/eBay
Image: Christian Woiwode/eBay

Take the one in the photos above, for example. That thing looks to be in great shape, and the only issues the seller mentions are a dead battery, radio problems, and trouble locking the panoramic roof. The vehicle also hasn’t passed inspection since last summer.

But this amazing yellow Twingo apparently fires up just fine, and the Nürnberg-based seller says (translated from German): “The exhaust is almost new and the all-season tires only drove one season, so I would like to have an obulus for it.” That “obulus” being only 100 Euros, or $109!

That’s unbelievably cheap. And it’s not an anomaly, either! Twingos are absolutely worthless in Germany, despite being so valuable in all of our hearts and minds. I really don’t get it—are we Americans romanticizing a boring car, or are the Europeans just not appreciating this (admittedly rather common) vehicle’s tremendous soul?!

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In any case, you can probably see why I’m so bothered, for if these characterful little French hatchbacks are being sold for only $109, they could easily be carted off to the shredder. In fact, the title of the aforementioned Twingo ad is “Renault Twingo für Bastler und Ausschlachter,” which translates to “Renault Twingo for tinkerers or scrappers.”

Scrappers, folks!

Sadly, this yellow Twingo is from model year 2000, meaning we couldn’t import it to the U.S. for another five years. I’m not sure how we get around that, but we should, because I fear this Twingo won’t last another 5 years. It’s clearly not getting any appreciation in Germany, it’s getting only depreciation—and it can only depreciate so much before its only value is as a compact cube of recycled steel.

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To further drive home my point, look at that cute little black 2001 Twingo in the photo above. That thing’s for sale not too far from Stuttgart for the same price as the previously-shown yellow friend: $109.

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The seller says the car has a brake fluid leak, bad tie rod ends, and that it needs new wheel bearings. That’s all! And yet, the owner finishes the description with “Suitable for hobbyists or for cannibalizing.”

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Cannibalizing? No! This car just needs basic repairs!

We can’t allow this to happen; Europeans are killing off beloved Twingos left and right, and we can do nothing to stop them because of that damned 25 year import rule. 

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I hope you understand why I can’t sleep at night; these Twingos are helpless!

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Here’s another one for sale near Stuttgart for $134. The 2002 Twingo has only ~150,000 miles on it, and sure, the head gasket leaks, but come on! It’s just a head gasket; I bet I could lift the head off of that little 1.1-liter four-cylinder motor with two fingers.

“For tinkerers, for scrapping or as a parts car,” the ad reads.

I think I’m going to be sick.

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The red-ish, orange-ish 1999 Twingo in the picture above? That’s listed near Stuttgart for only $163, and you know what’s wrong with it? Not much! From the seller (translated from German):

Car is completely unregistered but still has TÜV [inspection] until 12/20. Car is ready to drive immediately, has no engine damage but the oil pan would have to be replaced. Otherwise it has the appropriate amount of rust for its age.

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Depending upon how bad that rust is, $163 could be a steal.

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On the left here is another Twingo of the same color for sale near Heidelburg for the same price of $163.

The seller describes what’s up, writing that the 1998 model is being sold specifically for hobbyists, because of the lack of TÜV inspection.

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Apparently the battery is not working, so the seller recommends buyers bring a trailer.

If this thing just needs a battery and some odds and ends, then this is probably the best deal I’ve seen so far, because it’s the early style Twingo with the beautiful orange front turn signals—far cooler than the clear ones that came later, in my opinion.

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I can be here all day finding slightly imperfect Twingos for under $200 in Germany. What’s wild is what happens when you reel in your parsimoniousness a bit, and look at Twingos with slightly higher price tags. This 2001 model below, for example, is for sale in Nürnberg for only $327.

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And yes, because you’re going big-baller by spending over $200, the car is apparently in excellent mechanical shape. From the seller:

Selling a Twingo built in 2001

Without TÜV [inspection] kilometers on it: 184,374 km

Tires are worn. Everything else is tip-top.

Fixed price 300 euros

That’s absurd, though I have to say I’d prefer to spend even more money to get this:

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Such a cute little blue car, and as you can see, it’s the early style with the amber turn signals. Plus, since it’s a 1995, you could theoretically import it to the U.S.! That’s absolutely worth the $533 asking price, assuming there’s nothing major wrong with it (there’s not much of a description).

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The point here is that Germany is sitting on a gold mine of Twingos, and it’s clear the country’s citizens have absolutely no idea. Someone needs to grab some picks and start mining. If only to save these treasures.

Sr. Technical Editor, Jalopnik. Always interested in hearing from auto engineers—email me. Cars: Willys CJ-2A ('48), Jeep J10 ('85), Jeep Cherokee ('79, '91, '92, '00), Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd ('94).

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