The outlandish bodykit is no disguise. When Renault wanted to take its classic 5 hatchback rallying in the 1980s, they didn't just uprate the engine. They moved the highly modified power unit backwards to transform France's favourite supermarket shopper into a rallying two-seater supercar. Open the hatchback on this immaculate Renault 5 Turbo 2, resplendent in the 'Tour de Corse' colours that twice won one of the most demanding events on the rallying calendar, and there is the potent power unit, initially tuned using Renault's Formula One expertise.
The car you see here was converted from left hand drive and to its current specification by John Price Rallying of Hereford, an outfit with long experience of preparing rally cars, including the monstrous Metro 6R4. The Renault began life as a production Turbo 2, a road-legal homologation special built in small numbers to meet Group B rallying regulations. It was delivered direct to John Price Rallying in October 1983. They transformed the car, first to right hand drive, under licence from Renault, and then, over some years, to its current specification, honouring the Tour de Corse wins.
Inside, there is a full competition interior, including a bespoke aluminium roll cage complemented by ultra lightweight Sparco seats and essentials such as a plumbed-in fire extinguisher. Door cards are carbon fibre to save weight. Full Sabelt harnesses are fitted. Bespoke switches are marked by crude, clear labelling. There's little in the way of creature comforts. In stark contrast to the specialist equipment, much of the standard Renault 5 dashboard remains, an analogue reminder of the original hatchback, albeit now punctuated with specialist gauges and switchgear.
The Renault real secret is revealed by opening the hatchback and lifting a blue carpeted panel. There, instead of shopping space and the rear seats, is the highly-tuned turbo-charged engine. The power unit is mounted ahead of the rear wheels, so the little Renault is designated as mid-engined, just like today's supercars which would have their work cut out to match its pace. John Price Rallying have upgraded the engine to so-called "Maxi" specification, as on the car Jean Ragnotti drove on the second of his Tour de Corse victories, in 1985. This 2009 upgrade, for the car's demanding previous owner, includes the correct Tour de Corse manifold, oil cooler and close ratio gearbox, among many other parts.
Every detail of this Tour de Corse recreation is correct, down to the finest points of the exterior livery. The condition is immaculate and the Renault is, remarkably enough, road legal. For your next rally stage or as a very swift supermarket shopper, there really is nothing like it. Just remember there’s no room for the week's groceries in the back.
Meet another '80s wonder car: the BMW E30 M3 Evo 2.
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