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Renault 5GT Turbo

Renault 5GT Turbo Published: 30th Nov 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Renault 5GT Turbo
Renault 5GT Turbo
Renault 5GT Turbo
Renault 5GT Turbo
Renault 5GT Turbo
Renault 5GT Turbo
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This pocket rocket will send you into orbit without costing the earth

DO 80’S POCKET ROCKETS MAKE GOOD CLASSICS?

By this we take it that you mean smallsized superminis like the Peugeot 205GTi, and Ford’s Fiesta XR2 rather than the Volkswagen Golf GTi?

YOU’VE GOT IT

Yes, 1980s and 90’s cars are really popular now the more established classics are starting to become out of financial reach for many enthusiasts. Also their performance and safety levels make them ideal for modern roads – and their values can only rise.

I AM FINDING FORDS TOO DEAR ALREADY

Agreed – fast Fords like XR2s, RS1800s and RS Turbos are following in the tyre tracks of Mexicos and RS2000s and good Pug GTis aren’t cheap anymore either – but there are some better value alternatives around that are just as entertaining.

SUCH AS?

How about the Renault 5GT Turbo – a hot hatch so seriously fast that it gave many Sierra Cosworth drivers a good run for their money – was a popular Yuppie car, too thanks to its French style and image!

FAST ARE THEY?

Not arf! This pocket rocket was a sensation 30 years ago, loved for its sledge hammer turbocharged performance and an incredibly grippy chassis. The Peugeot 205 GTi may have offered the finesse road tests raved about at the time, but the coarser cruder Renault provided staggering acceleration and no nonsense fun instead, hitting 60 in just over seven seconds and topping out at 120mph. And that’s in standard tune – turn the turbo wick up (as many owners did) and it becomes Cosworth quick, all from a cast iron overhead valve engine that dates back to the early 1960s!

TELL ME MORE…

The GT Turbo was a development of the earlier R5 Gordini of the late 1970s, based upon an old school overhead valve 1397cc engine that was already well over 20 years old. Now tuned to a healthy 93bhp and with a five-speed gearbox (with an option of standard ratios or a racier set) it beat the XR2 to the showrooms by some two years.

A Turbo model was soon added easing the power up to 108bhp but there was now only a stock gearbox to play with. In 1980 a mid-engined, rearwheel drive hybrid was made for motorsport use and a small production batch was made so the car could qualify for Group 4 rallying. The GT Turbo used that basic engine with a Garratt T2 turbocharger with intercooler, toned down to 120bhp, but front-wheel drive naturally although the chassis was extensively modified as was the plastic fantastic interior with some lovely hip-hugging sports seats.

HOW MUCH CAN I GET ONE FOR?

Despite their comparative rarity in the UK the GT Turbo doesn’t sell for much. Even a concours example is unlikely to go for much more than £5500 (it cost £7630 new) with a decent, largely standard car perhaps two grand less. In fact, prices are quite flat across the range as a standard, slower Gordini is valued much the same although the special edition 1990 GT Turbo Raider may hold a price premium. There was also a Phase 2 GT Turbo just before the model was discontinued in favour of the cute Clio that was a bit more refined, if that’s what you’re after, but again prices are broadly the same because condition counts.

IS THAT THE CATCH?

There’s two actually – condition and originality and both are critical when buying one. Renaults weren’t built like Toyotas back then and the ‘Five’ supermini was pretty cheap and cheerful so lacked stamina, meaning it’s rare to find one in top nick. Because the GT Turbo was such a great hot hatch and so easy to make even hotter, the vast majority have been altered in some form or another and as a result totally standard cars (and certain parts) are as thin on the ground as the bodywork’s metal…

IS THAT WHAT I MUST LOOK OUT FOR MOST?

In the main yes. Check not simply for rust but, just as important, signs of crash damage; the GT Turbo was too fast for many and excursions into ditches and hedges were the result.

Look for past repairs, panel alignment etc and consider an HPI data check to see if it’s been registered as crashed or stolen. Check for rust everywhere, especially the doors, wings, floor, inner wings windscreen surrounds, jacking points and also bumper mounts. Has the car been reshelled? Like the earlier Gordini, the body was stiffened to cope with the power that a normal bodyshell lacks although automatic ‘Fives’ have similar reinforcements. If in doubt check it out with the Renault Turbo Owners’ Club (http://www.rtoc.org). Parts are available via specialists; a pattern GT Turbo sill costs a reasonable £60, for example but bodyskirt parts can be expensive.

ARE THERE ANY OTHER PROBLEMS?

A few. As you’d expect, most have been thrashed to death and may feel ‘loose’ which you can never quite eradicate. The engine is fairly tough although may not sound it, displaying tappet noise or, worse still, a worn camshaft. Look for excessive smoking and see that the Turbo performs as it should, providing an even spread of power without undue noise or smoke although these can be replaced for around £400. Fuelling was always a problem, so watch for ‘pinking’ under load suggesting an ignition or engine mapping fault – especially if the car has been further uprated.

To be fair, this old-school ohv engine is simple to overhaul so don’t be put off if the price is right. Hot starting and stammering has always been problematic on early Turbos. Does the electric cooling fan work as it should? Gasket failure of the alloy cylinder head due to overheating is not unknown but the car isn’t particularly famed for it like the MG K Series engine. There is an uprated (Group A) one for less than £35 with an overhauled cylinder head okay for unleaded at well under £300 from GT Turbo Spares (07895 135012).

IS THAT IT?

No – but these are all lesser problems such as dodgy electrics and switchgear (electric windows frequently play up) is common and the frail trim can well be be ratty and rattly by now. Many cars will boast uprated suspension and brakes, which is usually a good thing but on all check the rear trailing arms and bushes if the handling feels a bit odd; as new replacements are hard to source you may need to poly bush instead – again no bad thing. Don’t be surprised to find the transmission not in first flush of youth, displaying undue noise and slack and watch for clapped out driveshafts and cv joints. A new aftermarket clutch costs under £100 and may well be required…

WHAT IS THE SPARE PARTS SITUATION LIKE?

Fair to middling in general. The GT Turbo owners’ club can help and make a note of the Renault Owners’ Club (http://www.renaultownersclub.com), GT Turbo Spares (http://www.gt-turbospares. co.uk, and CGB Motorsport (http://www.cgbmotorsports.net). As Renault stopped making parts many years ago, a lot you’ll have to source used and specific items, such as Gordini alloy wheels, are very rare finds indeed. This last point is important if you intend reversing any custom and tuning projects in favour of a standard spec car. On the other hand, routine service parts from GT Turbo Spares, are pretty low cost. Rarer, not so fast Gordini is worth having

THINK I JUST MIGHT LOOK FOR ONE THEN!

It’s a great choice and a good time to get one while prices are reasonable but don’t despair too much if you can’t find a good GT Turbo or Gordini as Renault was turbocharging just about every model it produced back in the mid 1980s and you can also buy a R9 or R11 family saloon which has the same basic engine, albeit lesser tuned for around a grand. Gee that one up and you’ll even give GT Turbo drivers a bit of a surprise!



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