The R5 Turbo
Ever since its launch in 1980, the Renault 5 Turbo and subsequent
Turbo 2 has had the ability to turn heads whatever the company
it keeps. This little French car, nick-named ‘The Flying
Brick’ by a number of journalists, has often been mistaken
to be a DIY kit based on a Renault 5 or a GT Turbo on steroids.
(Little do they know!).
Originally built as a rally car, Renault only planned to
build 400 but they didn’t count on the interest they
were to receive. Built in the Alpine factory in Dieppe, it
was almost two years after the car was first seen by the world's
press at the Paris Motor Show, that the first rolled off the
production line, hitting the French roads on 1st July 1980.
Powered by the 1397cc engine out of the Gordini Turbo, modified
to produce 160bhp, mounted in the middle for the best weight
distribution and driving the rear wheels through a Renault
30 transaxle. The Turbo 1, of which some 1820 were made, had
a unique interior, which consisted of an ‘L’ shaped
steering wheel, special dashboard and ‘H’ shaped
seats with built in head restraints and strobe line cloth
panels set into leatherette. The interior is the only obvious
difference between the T1 and 2 that can be seen, as the other
major differences are to the materials used for the roof,
doors and tailgate panels: these were aluminium on the T1
and steel on most of the T2s.
The turbo 2 went into production three years later and used
the Gordini Turbo interior to save on the costs. Some 3167
cars rolled out of the alpine factory until production stopped
In 1979 the prototype competition car tested at Paul Ricard
circuit in France for the first time for competition later
in the year but the car did not start a competitive rally
until the Tour of France in 1980, retiring with fuel problems.
The Monte Carlo rally in 1981 was its first major victory.
In 1985 we saw the wild ‘Maxi’ make its debut,
winning the Tour de Course rally with Jean Ragnotti behind
the wheel of the 350bhp car. In so doing he beat the likes
of the Audi quattro and the Peugeot 205 T16 EVO which both
had 4 wheel drive.
Following the death of Joaquim Santo in his Ford RS200 and
a number spectators, Group B was banned by the FISA and with
it died Renault's participation in the world rally championship
with the 5.