Renault’s Hot Hatch, the Renault 5 Gordini, was a little stunner
The Renault 5 was styled by Michel Boue as his pet project outside of his usual Renault design requirements. In 1976 the Renault 5 Gordini was launched in the UK although the rest of the world known it as the Renault 5 Alpine. Chrysler had the rights to the name Alpine in the UK and had recently launched the Chrysler Alpine in this country so Renault chose Gordini as the name of their spritely Renault 5 for the UK.
The Renault 5 Gordini was one of the first performance based hatchbacks produced although the VW Golf GTI seems to have already achieved that accolade. The Gordini’s power plant was a 1.4 naturally aspirated straight four pushing out 93 bhp which was capable of over 100 mph and 0-60 mph in less than 10 seconds as the car weighed just 824 kg.
Its stiffened suspension meant it handled well round corners and drove like a sports car. It sold well in the UK but was superseded by the Gordini Turbo in 1982 with the same engine but the addition of a single Garrett T3 turbo charger boosting power up to 110 bhp. Now rare classics it’s not easy to find an unmolested example of these hot hatchbacks today.
A BUYERS GUIDE
The rare Renault 5 Gordini is hard to find today so any for sale will either be well looked after models at top prices or worn models that will need close scrutiny but can be picked up at good prices if you are willing to work on the car.
The body work on these Renault 5’s can be in poor condition if they haven’t been looked after properly although rust proofing was improved in 1983. Rust is a killer of the Renault 5 and as replacement panels are no longer available from Renault you may have to look elsewhere if you buy a fixer upper, new old stock is available and pattern panels are too, so you don’t have to search for ever if you need a replacement panel.
Water gets into the edges of the bonnet, door skins, tailgate and rear wheel arches, which can rot the car. Sills have drain holes that can block and also check inside the boot for any rust bubbles as rear arches corrode badly around the vertical supports for the dampers.
The Engine has an alloy cylinder head so check the condition and levels of fluid. Make sure there is plenty of anti-freeze in the system because this will avoid cooling system problems and blockages. Also make sure the thermostat is operating correctly as this can cause irreparable engine damage if it’s allowed to overheat.
The Gordini has a five speed manual gearbox and will be floor mounted check out for synchromesh wear in 2nd and 5th gears as this can be problematic don’t allow the gearbox to run low on oil as this can cause the 5th gear bearings to fail, also check for any leakages too. Brakes are conventional and require regular maintenance as normal, but the inside trim is hard to replace these days so make sure nothing is missing. Electrics are simple but do check the wiring to the tailgate as this can fracture with time.
VALUATION SINCE LAUNCH
Until recently, Renault’s fastest car was the 1978 Alpine A443 (top speed 236 mph), with its humble 2.0 V6 engine.
Mark Wilkinson, Managing Director, says
“One of the pioneers behind sporting hatchback success, the Renaults 5 Gordini was practical, economical, and fun to drive – way back in 1976.”