The Carchive: The Renault Le Car 2 (5)

That time of the week has arrived where we briefly put aside all that is new and current, and take a few moments to think back at that which went before. The good, bad and ugly of motoring history. Join me for another visit to The Carchive,
Last week we were in late ’80s Italy for a look at one of the later X1/9s, a car which is difficult to imagine sitting in a Fiat dealer today. And so we move onto elsewhere in Europe, where Renault was trying to sell the last of their Mk1 Renault 5’s before an “all new SuperCinq” arrived. They called it Le Car, 2.

“It has been designed for economical motoring with its 1108cc engine and 5-speed gearbox, but it will transport you in style”
Yes! This was true! The Renault 5 is one of those cars that I can go for literally hours without thinking about. And then when I see one I immediately think what a beautifully proportioned, pert, purposeful little sweetie-pie it always was. The basic shape lasted from 1972 all the way through to the 5 being replaced by the Clio in 1996, and still longer in certain dusty, far-flung countries.
This is an interesting brochure, rife with American-flavo(u)red imagery that recalls when the Le Car was marketed there in the ’70s.
“The 1108cc engine combined with a 5-speed gearbox will give an economical 62.8mpg at 56mpg, yet the standard of trim and equipment are in the luxury class”
That luxury equipment was stated as colour co-ordinated front and rear polyester bumpers with a built in front spoiler, tinted windows and a rear wash wipe. Luxury to the point of decadence.
I think Renault was selling it rather short here, to be honest. With a digital clock, those comfy-looking ‘Petale’ front seats, illuminated heater controls, the three-door only GTL was very much the Personal Luxury Coupe of the Le Car 2 family. At 87mph with 45bhp, though, it wasn’t exactly swift.
“The Renault 5 Le Car Turbo looks like a performance machine and can prove it”
It seems crazy now. From 45 hp of the other two, the 1397cc Garrett T3 turbocharged engine in the Turbo offered 110hp. Speed went up to 116mph, 0-62mph dropped to 9.5 seconds, which in a car as small and light as this, felt surreal.
This little engine was further developed in the wild mid-engined Renault 5 Turbo and Turbo 2, but they fall outside the scope of this brochure, I’m sad to say.
“On the inside, the performance capability of the Le Car Turbo is comprehensively taken care of”
A rev-counter was fitted, as was a turbo boost gauge, a leather-wrapped steering wheel that had metal spokes with little circles cut in them, there was a stereo cassette, and, best of all, the dials were illuminated blood red.
And, because frankly economy was of absolutely no consequence whatsoever for this model, the fuel tank was increased to 11.7 gallons, with the onus falling squarely upon the driver to burn his way through it as rapidly as possible.
(All images are of original manufacturer publicity material, photographed by me. Copyright remains property of Renault, who make very serious, high quality cars these days…. but in common with the rest of the industry, need to rediscover fun)

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  1. GTXcellent Avatar

    Gotta admit – this was the extent of my Le Car experience.
    It was far and away my least favorite Matchbox car. I’ve still got, and now it has moved onto being my boys’ least favorite Matchbox car. Maybe I’ll have to give the little bugger another try.

  2. The Real Number_Six Avatar
    The Real Number_Six

    Only the French could get a small car to ride and handle like a 1981 Cadillac Sedan Deville.
    The football players graphic is confusing. Are they hinting at a football helmet inspiration for the styling? “Slam it into a hard object: you’ll still get a concussion, but you’ll look cool doing it…”

  3. Batshitbox Avatar

    That drive-in movie picture… am I expected to believe the Le Car would be a better choice than the Jeep?

    1. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1

      No, a Fuego would.

  4. Infamous007 Avatar

    Those three lug bolt rims were creepy to me when most cars had either 4 or 5.

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