In response to Lancia’s breakout success in rallying with the Stratos HF, Renault realized it was time to return to WRC after its 5 year hiatus. With most of the motorsport funds already earmarked for the F1 effort, Renault pegged the Alpine R5 as a worthy platform, and reached out to Bertone to pen a rally-ready version of the R5.
To achieve the same sure-footed handling as Lancia’s Stratos, Renault’s engineering team moved the engine to behind the front seats, making the little Renault mid-engined and rear-wheel drive, and achieving the neutral handling race teams believed was the key to WRC success. Instead of redesigning the entire rear end, Renault strengthened the entire chassis front to back.
The engine nested behind the front seats was a 1.4 Liter Cléon-Fonte motor fitted with a Garret T3 turbo, air-to-air intercooler, and Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, good for 160bhp in the road-going version, and much more in race trim. Front suspension remained double-wishbone, and the rear received double-wishbones and coil springs from the Renault’s rear-engined A310. Massively-flared fenders made room for the 225 section rear tires, and provided real estate to feed air to the engine and radiators. All together, the R5 Turbo could blast its way to 60mph in just a hair over 7 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 125 mph.
In 1983, Renault debuted the Turbo 2, with sights set on capitalizing on the original Turbo’s racing and commercial success by providing the same instantly-recognizable looks in a much more reasonable package. Lightweight aluminum components like the doors, roof, and hatch, were traded for the Alpine R5’s steel bits. Gone, too, were the Bertone-styled interior pieces, the stunning Bertone seats, the bizarre and prone-to-breaking 2-spoke asymmetrical steering wheel, all replaced with standard Alpine R5 interior parts. The fun-factor remained the same, however, and Renault went on to produce a total of 5007 examples, with a select handful making their way state-side through Sun International.
Finally, with Group B rally cars dominating the media and car enthusiast’s dreams, the Renault Turbo 2 Evolution debuted. Built to homologate the R5 Maxi Turbo, Renault built 200 Evolutions in road-going trim, featuring a larger-displacement motor and an aluminum roof, and performance tweaks to the engine internals.
This Renault R5 Turbo 2 Evo is number 120 of the 200 total Evolutions built. Federalized in 1997 by an independent importer, #120 also underwent fitment of equipment to bring the vehicle into California emissions compliance, including a lambda box, fuel tank EVAP system, and O2 sensor in the catalytic converter. Additionally during federalization, the paint was refinished, including the outside trim, and steel beams added to the doors While undoubtedly a rocket out of the box, this R5 received a choice selection of improvements, including Renault Sport Bilstein dampers, Eibach springs, three-piece staggered Gotti wheels (factory wheels included), remote oil filter, heim-jointed shift linkage at the transmission, braided stainless teflon clutch line, and a free flowing muffler. All original parts were kept and remain with #120. Maintenance was performed during its time in LA by a Renault specialist, and service records have remained with the car.