The Goodwood Festival of Speed celebrates 20 years of motorshow goodness this year and it seems that many of the big-name manufacturers are getting right behind the festivities. But, there’s a little bit of one-upmanship going on too. Well, quite a lot, actually. And so far, as much as this reporter can tell, it’s looking like Renault will be rocking the hardest with the hottest of race and road metal on show. And unless Peugeot or VW roll up with a couple of very special, early GTI models, it will be this wide, mean ‘n’ nasty Renault R5 Maxi Turbo that’ll surely be the star of the Goodwood show.
Sure, I’m a little biassed in that I had the road-going Renault 5 GT Turbo of the same era way back in the day, and I can vouch for how well they go, stop and steer, once you’ve made a few choice mods. But this Maxi Turbo is a whole different dream date for a petrolhead. I say dream because they’re super-hard to find these days and cost about the same as a gold-plated bomb!
The Elf-liveried stunner we see here will be on the Renault stand and if you get the chance you should definitely have a close look around it. There’s so much hand-made engineering in these cars, especially in the back, where the 1.4-litre, turbocharged petrol engine moved to from the the front, to power the rear wheels. Around the now rear-mid-mounted engine is a stack fabricated metalwork, and you’ll see all of the turbo and intercooling workings also. A small and light car – these are well under 1,000kg – needs a small and light engine, otherwise all that diet-work is wasted. And while this old school push-rod-valve-operating, 1400cc motor has an iron block, it’s still quite a tiddler compared to many other high performance engines of the era.
It might have made around 120bhp from the factory in front-wheel drive road car trim in the Renault 5 GT Turbo, but the bigger the turbo the more the boost, and for competition in the late 80s these things were pushing over 300bhp. But, these are short-wheel-base cars, so all that grunt going through the rear wheels was always a bit of a sideways handful, as our video below shows. Sure, there’s some grip to be found in the dry – especially with these really fat rear tyres – but I for one wouldn’t fancy hanging one of these out on a wet rally stage.
And the Renault goodness doesn’t stop at the mighty R5 Maxi Turbo, take a look below and see what else tickles your fancy from our French friends. See you at Goodwood!
By Dan Anslow