Before going on with this, I have to confess I have doctored the photo. As I took the photo there cycled past a man in fluorescent orange. He was right over the roof of the car in the un-altered image.
Twenty seconds later he was gone and the road reverted to the desolate, unpopulated and grimly suburban stillness that prevailed. If I had been more alert, I could have waited a few seconds and then taken a genuine photo of a desolate, unpopulated and grimly suburban street. For that reason I don’t have a very bad consciousness about removing the cyclist who I could have avoided having in the first place merely by waiting.
This level of photographic massage is a long way off removing the population of Russia from a group photo with Stalin because he has had them all executed for falling out of favour. And I am admitting it as well. Mostly I only crop photos and seldom mess with any parameters like saturation or contrast.
Actually, I did once also remove a daft warning sign that poked out of a lake over the roof of a Citroen Cactus I once drove. That really was cheating. Sorry.
I find most photography is unrealistic and I don’t want to be on the saturation and contrast bandwagon. Now and again “tonal” helps if light levels are poor. That’s as much editing as I want to do.
Getting back to the Renault. I took this car for granted at the time it arrived. What I find to be worth reflecting on now is that Renault took a lot inspiration from Fiat with their use of fabric in the interior: the Mutipla paved the way and maybe the Ypsilon did too. The dashboard is incredibly curvaceous, swoopy and daring yet avoids the bland formlessness that set-designers for Star Trek usually reach for. This is super French design, classless modernism – as classless as a 3.0 V6 car ever can be.
You often hear people expressing admiration for the thirty-year old Merc (that’s a W-123) as a vehicle for travelling in discrete opulence. To some extent that’s true yet to move things up to date, a car like this Espace is a perfect way to enjoy sufficient power, masses of space and the high-riding position that lures so many to the world of CUVs. You’d really want this car for its interior though, more than the exterior. Overall I quite like it despite the way it doesn’t quite hang together.
Like the Opel Omega estate, that boot to body shutline is messing with the C-pillar. I tried to remove it to see how it would look and discovered I needed to extend the side glass a bit. So, the C-pillar is a bit weak. And the droopy line of the grille aperture is also unsuccessful. I did not like it in 1997 and I like it less now. Still: these were great load luggers, worthy successors to the likes of the CX Safari and Volvo 940 estate.