A while back I picked the uncoolest cars of all time, and I named the Renault R5 (dubbed the “Le Car” in the U.S.) as one of them. A surprising number of people wrote to complain that I’d clearly never heard of the R5 Turbo, but nothing could be further from the truth. I know all about the R5 Turbo and Turbo II, which is why I’m salivating at this recent eBay posting. If I had the cash and the garage space, I’d be bidding like a madman on this car.
First, some clarification: the Renault R5 was an utterly forgettable FWD econobox that was sold in the U.S. from 1976 to 1983. The R5 Turbo (later the Turbo II), on the other hand, was the anti-R5. It was a mid-engine, rear-drive, turbocharged monster built for competition in the World Rally Championship. It handled like a go-kart and stuck to the road like gum to the bottom of your shoe. Stock versions of the R5 Turbo made 185 horsepower to move the car’s 2,200 pounds, but competition versions boasted as much as 345 horsepower. The stock R5 and the R5 Turbo shared a chassis, a few body panels and a badge, but not much else. The R5 Turbos were handbuilt exotics that were imported to the U.S in VERY limited quantities; finding a clean example on these shores is harder than finding a blond stripper that Tiger Woods hasn’t slept with.
Enter this example of an R5 Turbo II, found on Bring A Trailer. It’s led a charmed life, having had just two owners, both car collectors. It’s been garaged and serviced by a prominent Ferrari dealership, and it’s seen just 25,574 pampered miles since new. The motor is stock, putting out a mild but sufficient 185 horsepower. It’s seen major preventative servicing in the past two years, so it needs nothing but a new owner.
The downside? Well, there’s two. First, the car lacks a California BAR sticker, so you’re out of luck if you live on the left coast. Second, there’s the issue of the price: the requested starting bid is $47,500, about $10,000 more than clean R5 Turbos are selling for these days. Sure, this may be the best remaining example in the U.S., but a starting bid that’s $10k higher than current market prices tells me that the seller isn’t exactly motivated. If he can get his asking price, so be it; otherwise, he’s happy to keep it in his R5 shrine until the right buyer finds him. In the mean time, the rest of us can enjoy the pics of this spectacular ride.