Wonderful Renault R5 Turbo Evo rekindles our rallying nostalgia
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Why do people love Group B rallying? Obviously the high speeds and fearless drivers play a role, but another element in the mix is the amount of character in the cars.
There was something very Cindarella about it — cars that in their base-level production format people would rarely ever double take over, being transformed into some of the most deathly and insane looking race cars in the world for the period.
At the core of the thought is the Renault 5. Humble and diminutive, the Five was a popular pick among young families, grandparents, people who don't really give a toss about their cars. The R5 is a sportier hot hatch offering that gave the platform new legs, and the rear-wheel drive R5 Turbo 2 Evolution is ... well, something else entirely.
It (apart from maybe the MG Metro 6R4) best embodies this 'mild to wild' transformation. Huge boxed guards, integrated fog lights, chins and splitters, air vents scattered all over the place, and the visuals are just the start.
Flip open the rear hatch and you're greeted with markedly less storage space than one would find in a traditional Five. Instead there's a big old box lined with carpet, greedily taking up all the room. It, inevitably, hides the Evolution's turbocharged 1.4-litre four banger hand grenade — like a Pez dispenser concealing the ultimate treat. Power? Unknown, as the previous owners have upgraded it with period parts sourced from France.
This particular car is up for sale on noted American sales site Bring a Trailer. Two days remain in the listing, with bidding up to US$75,000 (NZ$105,000). Plenty of recent work has been done to the car to keep it fresh, including a new clutch assembly, new brake master cylinder, three new fuel pumps, and fuel tanks that have been removed, cleaned, and reinstalled.
A little car, packing an enormous amount of performance and personality. There are worse ways to blow six figures...