Voiture à Vivre [Part One]

Big science in a small package. 

Image: largus.fr

The scientific approach to motor car design was one which was taken up with some enthusiasm in France during the post-war period, resulting not only in some of the more compelling examples of motive modernity, but the most significant of the modern era. The results of intellectual rigour and no small quantum of application, these cars were also imbued with another, more nebulous quality: a piquant and distinctive character. Certainly, it was a potent amalgamation of elements that in this instance created a car both of its time, yet also timeless. A car for living. A car for life.

Towards the end of the 1960s, amid Europe’s engineering centres and styling studios, a new evolution of car was being forged. With matters of powertrain layout and body format still to be definitively established, nobody was entirely sure what would emerge as the dominant strain. But while Mirafiori, Turin would in the fullness of time lay claim to the precise technical layout of the compact front wheel drive car[1], it was their Transalpine rivals at Boulogne-Billancourt who would go on to define its appearance and architecture.

Genre-busting, avant garde style and pioneering spirit had not really been the traditional preserve of conservative, state-controlled Renault, but this was to change under the direction of CEO, Pierre Dreyfus. In 1961 the Quatrelle would usher in a wholesale technical and creative shift. Proving no flash in the pan, the mid-decade advent of the 16, employing the R4’s utilitarian five-door format in a car targeting the middle classes would not only successfully shift Renault’s aspirations towards a market segment which had previously eluded it, but would alter perceptions of the nationalised carmaker entirely.

By the close of the 1960s, Renault was going places. Its efficient and versatile car lineup was proving commercially successful both at home and across widespread export markets. But despite the undoubted appeal of their compact models, Renault’s offerings in this sector (the related 4, 6 and rear-engined 8) lacked a certain allure.

In 1967, Bernard Hanon, Renault’s head of planning became convinced of the necessity to develop a new type of compact car. Dubbed the American by colleagues, owing to his convivial manner and fluent command of English, Hanon drew upon his US market experience[2], believing that future growth would come from suburban demand for a chic second car for working families, and from younger customers seeking a vehicle that reflected their changing way of life. In this he found a sympathetic ear from CEO, Dreyfus, who it is stated, tasked his teams to create a “voiture à vivre: a car for all seasons, for holidays and for work, for weekdays and for weekends, for town and for country.

Certainly, it was asking a good deal of Renault’s late Sixties small car range to cater to all of these stated imperatives. The 4, while hugely popular, was too basic, too utilitarian. The 6 was viewed as too derivative and despite its more evolved style, lacked flair. While on the other hand, the 8 was very much yesterday’s news. It was therefore to the upmarket 16 that Renault would by necessity refer.

Timing is everything, and so it would prove for Renault stylist, Michel Boué. Working it is said, outside of office hours, he superimposed a new design of his own creation upon the side elevation of a Quatrelle, and in so doing, not only reimagined the compact Renault for the coming decade, but the modern B-segment Euro-hatchback. Based on the key dimensions of the R4/6, it embodied the earlier car’s essential design principles but with a good deal more sophistication.

With Hanon’s enthusiastic backing, Dreyfus soon became convinced of the Boué proposal’s visual merits, but baulked at the notion of a two-door body, a layout anathema to French market norms. Hanon argued that this would prevent it from competing directly with existing models, and would, he believed, lend the model a unique appeal in the marketplace. Dreyfus however, remained doubtful.

There would be another, more prescient sticking point however, that of the agreement between la regié and Automobiles Peugeot, who were in the throes of developing projet M, their own compact front-wheel drive offering. Sochaux were aghast at what they learned Renault was proposing, and with full disclosure between both camps regarding future product, it was eventually concluded that Renault would offer their new car in two-door form only, while Peugeot’s upcoming 104 in turn would be forced to forego a rear tailgate, thereby minimising potential conflicts.

Meanwhile, hedging his bets, Dreyfus tasked the design team under the supervision of Gaston Juchet to prepare a five-door proposal, intended to be employed should the two-door version prove unpalatable to the French public.

Car Design News
Projet 122 takes shape at Renault’s design studio. Image: Car Design News

Created in plaster with minimal change from Boué’s original sketches, senior management signed off on the basic styling. Hence, Projet 122 (as it became dubbed) would offer Directeur des Études, Yves George comparatively few technical challenges, employing as it did, largely carry-over technology. But it wasn’t entirely a case of a simple transposing of technical hardware. A beam axle rear suspension design, à la R12 was initially specified to reduce unit cost, but owing to the 122’s distribution of masses (being contained largely within the wheelbase) this did not achieve the desired ride and handling balance. A further benefit of the R4-derived trailing arm/ transverse torsion bar arrangement[3] was that it offered superior space utilisation, ride comfort and a knock-on of improved refinement.[4]

The engines chosen were off the shelf, longitudinally mounted inline units, the entry level version being a somewhat leisurely 4 CV 782 cc Ventoux unit from the R4.[5] The 956 cc unit as fitted to the initial range-topping TL model was a reduced capacity version of the 1108 cc unit fitted to both R6 and 8. Each were proven, competitive power units, and certainly no impediment in a lightweight bodyshell, even if the location of the technical masses would not necessarily turn out to be one for the ages. Additionally, the gearbox, a stronger fully synchromesh unit designed for the 1108 cc R8 model was used in both engine installations, with either the traditional dash-mounted ‘push-pull’ gear selector or a floor mounted shifter.

With stylistic approval for the essential shape, Boué and the Billancourt styling team worked to tease out the nuances of 122’s styling. Characterised by a similar uncompromising silhouette to that of both 4 and 16, the differences lay in the treatment of surfaces and in the level of finesse applied to the detail design. While additional body styles were worked up[6], the design was optimised as a two door unitary body with a lift-up tailgate, a layout not adopted by any of Renault’s rivals,[7] and in commercial terms, another significant risk.

Defined by largely unadorned surfaces, the design was anchored by strong proportions, a four-square stance, a clear, unambiguous theme and confident use of form and graphics. Boué and his team of designers allowed the car’s spare surfaces carry out the heavy lifting, with only the very minimum of visual grace notes to punctuate and add elaboration. There was nothing extraneous, the shape pared back to near-essentials, yet there was a subtle sophistication and richness to its styling that elevated it from pure product design into an almost perfectly realised object of fascination.

Image: automacha.com

While the silhouette itself was simplicity itself, it was the detail design that truly elevated Boué’s shape. Unlike its supermini rivals, the frontal styling (a matter of some considerable deliberation at Billancourt) eschewed convention with its raked nose treatment, large rectangular headlamp units and mere suggestion of a grille. Also unusual was the lack of exterior doorhandles, replaced by a simple pressed recess in the quarter panel – a feature reprised (in reverse) on the rear tailgate. Simple but effective.

But there was one aspect of the design which really set the car apart from its rivals. Parking in French cities was usually achieved by touch, meaning that minor parking knocks were worn as badges of combat. Yves George’s engineering team, in partnership with Rhône-Poulenc devised integrated bumpers made from reinforced polyester, pre-impregnated with fibreglass, which would be capable of absorbing impacts of up to 7 km/h without deformation. The ribbed, self-coloured, bumper-cum-valance units would become the Renault’s defining style statement, at once underlining its functionality yet simultaneously highlighting its state of the art design credentials. This brand of radicalism, normally the preserve of Renault’s Parisian double chevron rivals, married with Boué’s[8] ultra-modern style was described by Bernard Hanon, as “a stroke of genius; a bolt from the blue”.

Every living room should have one. Image: Renault.com

Certainly, when the new Renault 5[9] was first shown in December of 1971, prior to its official launch the following January, it would prove exactly that.

 

[1] Under engineer Dante Giacosa’s oversight, FIAT Auto pioneered the transverse engine, end-on gearbox and unequal length driveshaft layout in large-scale production.

[2] Bernard Hanon’s career at Renault included a sojourn in America. He ultimately became CEO of Régie Renault in 1981, succeeding Bernard Vernier-Palliez.

[3] Like most front wheel drive Renaults of the time, the 5 employed differing wheelbase lengths – left to right – a consequence of its transverse torsion bar rear suspension design.

[4] This suspension change occurred quite late in 122’s development – only some two and half years prior to its debut.

[5] The 782 cc engine was limited to home market 5s. An enlarged 845 cc version of this powerplant would later be offered.

[6] In addition to the five-door hatchback, a three-volume saloon was schemed, aimed at Southern Mediterranean markets. Introduced into the Spanish market in 1974 as the Siete, it was produced there until 1984.

[7] Neither the 1971 Fiat 127, nor the 1972 Peugeot 104 were introduced with rear tailgates.

[8] Poignantly, Michel Boué was not to see his brainchild’s success. Diagnosed with cancer, the talented 37-year old designer succumbed in 1971 – a promising career cut tragically short.

[9] Originally intended to be christened Renault 2, but given that the 122 was a far more sophisticated product, yet was to be priced similarly to the existing R4, Renault’s marketers elected to retain the 5 moniker.

Sources: Child of the Sixties – Jean-Louis Loubet: Renault Group/  Renault Classic/ Car Magazine (April 1973)/ Renault-5.net/ lautomobileancienne.com

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

44 thoughts on “Voiture à Vivre [Part One]”

  1. Good morning, Eóin. Ah, the 5, what a lovely little car that was. A form so pure, so much reduced to its essence, that is good in my book. If I am not mistaken, Renault invented the supermini with this. Michel Boué left this world too soon, but that is quite a legacy.

    There were plenty around in my younger years, but other than that I have no personal connection to it. I don’t think I ever sat in one. Haven’t seen one in years, either.

    Looking forward to part two.

  2. Good morning Eóin. The Renault 5 was, for me, a properly ‘modern’ small car with its perfectly judged styling, devoid of any superfluous ornamentation. It’s now amazing to read that there was such a debate over its three-door layout. That said, three-door superminis are now becoming an endangered species. It’s interesting to read that the five-door version was designed alongside the three-door. That probably explains how well resolved it was: there’s no hint of afterthought about it:

    Here’s a clever period advertisement promoting the 5’s roomy interior:

  3. This car is a true childhood memory for me. Thanks for bringing it back to our attention!
    It has been around for almost two years before I was born, but was still a daily sight on our streets when I became aware of different car types. Even for a five-year-old its design stood out and was instantly recognizeable. I vividly remember how special I thought its rear lights and adjacent vents were. I don’t have a similar recollection of the bumpers, however.

    How modern its shape was can be recognized when looking at its successor. The same basic shape was fit for another decade until around 1990 with changes mainly to details and ornamentation. I like this second iteration a lot, its cleanness and simplicity is almost unmatched in the automotive world. Although its bumpers were no integral part of the body like in today’s cars, the seemed seamlessy integrated without any steps to the metalwork.

  4. Hello Eòin,
    Fifty years old already, the Five- how time flies! It’s just one of those rare, virtually perfect designs that you can’t really imagine any other way. Luckily Renault realised this
    as well and left the outside bodywork alone for the car’s only significant facelift.
    Like Freerk, I have seen scores of them on the roads and in the streets but have never driven one. I did sit in one on many occasions because one of my teachers had one, and she was among
    my saturday car washing route customers with which I supplemented my pocket money. Initially she had an early orange one with black vinyl interior, and replaced that some years later with a
    facelifted example in blue with a cream interior. What already appealed to me at the time was the fact that the 5 was a very easy and pleasant car to wash and polish; courtesy of
    its many soft (but not stylistically weak- on the contrary) rounded corners. The curved corners of the window frames also facilitated cleaning. I recall much preferring the facelifted
    car’s interior then, although over time I have warmed once more to the original iteration; one thing I also remember is that those black vinyl seats got VERY hot when the car had been
    parked in the sun for some time- easily solved by carrying a large old bath towel with me on summer days to throw onto the seats.

    1. Having washed and waxed a great number of cars by hand I can completely relate to your comment. Some cars as just so much easier to clean than others. I never washed a Renault 5, though.

      Also the black vinyl brings and bath towel sounds all too familiar. The good old days 😉

  5. “Towards the end of the 1960s . . . . . . a new evolution of car was being forged” – is that not a slightly unfair dismissal of Uncle Alex’s efforts a decade earlier? I know he could be an arrogant so-and-so and seemed reluctant to accept the need to develop and improve his trend setting creation, but…..

    Having said that, the Renault 5 was what the Mini should, by then, have been but wasn’t. Perfection on wheels indeed and, IMHO, never bettered. Although the Peugeot 205 runs it a close second – a pair of early low-spec ones live along my road; their red paint is dull and faded but they are in regular use and just look ‘right’. Can’t remember when I last saw a 5 on the road.

    1. Hi Martin. That was a great scoop…of the 1967 Simca 1100! 😁

    2. OK, 1967 Simca 1100. I used to see and remember this picture. I thought it was a variant of the Renault 5, very influenced by the rear of the Renault R16.
      I remembered that the Chinese extended Volkswagen Passat must have been very twisted when the first Skoda Superb derived from it did the same. To produce it as a station wagon would therefore definitely require major design changes, tests and new production equipment. Not just to introduce her prototype. Only then could the Volkswagen Passat estate compete, as I once mentioned.

  6. I always thought the 5 a neat piece of styling, particularly when they added side cladding to link the front and rear bumpers, but to me it was always eclipsed by the 127.

    1. The 127 was certainly one of Fiat’s best and as I recall a great drive – but for me the front end is dumpy in comparison to the 5. As for the 104, competent though it was, it lacked significant appeal to sell well in the UK, unlike the subsequent 205 which managed to tick all the boxes. In the early’70s the 2(3) & 4(5) door markets were entirely different and almost never did the twain meet.

  7. In the second para, I suspect ‘compact wheel drive car’ should read ‘compact front wheel drive car’.

  8. I had a couple of late 5s about six or seven years ago and (very) cheap runarounds. They had the later 1.3 fuel injected engine and aside from the woeful bodywork condition were great little cars.

    Aside from the obviously dated interior and superior all-round vision they were as both as easy and pleasant to drive as a modern small car.

    Of particular amusement was the reaction of fellow drivers when I overtook them on the motorway. Men (and only every men) in their Quashqai would be happily cruising along at 65 when a Renault 5 that looked like it had just been lifted from the scrap heap zipped past them, prompting them to put their foot down, tailgate me, overtake then slow back down to 65.

    It has never happened to me in any other car and I’m not really sure why the 5 brought this out in people either.

  9. On another note I have two friends, one with a 1987 1.1 Metro and the other with a 1987 1.1 Renault 5. One day I was going to do them both a favour, driving the Metro to the garage for an MOT and picking up the 5 from the same garage to bring back, allowing a small comparison between the two.

    The Metro had covered about 80,000 miles in it’s then 30 years on this earth and felt it’s age. It rattled like someone had left some bolts in floor, the engine was loud and underpowered and despite having the suspension topped up a month previously handled like a shopping trolley.

    I got into the 5, had covered about 15,000 more miles. There were no rattles, the engine was quieter and required less forethought when approaching a big hill, it handled very well.

    I got out wondering who bought that Metro in the first place and what possessed them to do so. I appreciate that the Metro I drove was no spring chicken but neither was the 5 and only one of those was a car you would consider using everyday. If you test drove both cars before making such a large purchase how on earth did you end up with the Metro?

    In short, Renault had produced a car that even nine years after it’s launch later BL couldn’t match.

  10. I think the essential rightness of the original 5‘s design is proven by two other Renaults:

    First, the Super-Cinq. A very careful, but extremely well executed evolution on the original theme. In fact, I consider it one of Gandini‘s masterpieces, which only gets better with age. If you would have told me back in the day I‘d ever prefer a Super-Cinq to the 205 – which I do today! – I would have laughed in disbelief.

    The other car is the often maligned R14. Its design is, in fact, nothing else than the original 5 in a bigger envelope. I find the 14 quite appealing in a appliance/industrial design kind of way, but am probably the only one thinking so.

    1. I too was a fan of the R14 back in the day, but it had a transverse Peugeot engine with Issigonis-style transmission so was more of a bigger Austin 1100 surely ?

    2. I also always had a soft spot for the 14 and felt very sorry for its failure in the market.
      For me the 14’s biggest fault was its lack of power that was corrected far too late with the 14 TS.

  11. I remember this car quite well. When it arrived on the market it somehow looked just right for the still optimistic early Seventies and very contemporarily modern rather than futuristic. In no time they were everywhere in typically Seventies’ bright colours like yellow, lime green and orange.
    I’m a bit confused by the remark that the 5 had a umbrella handle or floor mounted gearshift. The only 5s I’ve ever seen with floor mounted gearstick are the Alpines, all ‘normal’ 5s had the ingenious typically French umbrella handle to get the gear linkage to the gearbox in front of the engine. Other typical Renault features were an exhaust silencer in the front wing and an exhaust tailpipe in front of the left rear wheel that looked dark brown in no time.

    1. At the time these cars were new a standard complaint of the press was that their ergonomics weren’t good. Comparing these dashboards to the overloaded spaceship control centres of today you ask what they were complaining about.
      Look at the HVAC of those 5s, the early one with to unmarked levers under the dashboard the later one with just to sliders and that was plenty enough. Today we get four-zone climate controls that don’t work and need an engineering degree to make them work properly.

    2. Probably others have said this but I think only the basic 5’s had dash gear change. All the ones I saw had floor mounted gear change both here and in France.

  12. “Parking in French cities was usually achieved by touch, meaning that minor parking knocks were worn as badges of combat”.

    That’s reflected in their advertising, too.

  13. I’ve just noticed how the path described by the rain gutter is mirrored almost exactly in the shape of the wheel openings.

    So here is an opportunity for me to try and better understand last year’s head-scrathingly uncharismatic concept, which highlights the iconic rain gutter line, yet misses the mark on homogeneity/consistency/integration because the radii on the body side sculpting don’t conform to this dominant line (here emphasized) like the original. But almost! Now I see how it could be fixed. Would that the production version embrace design fluency in exchange for some sporty aggression, which seems forced, (it didn’t immediately evoke the mid-engined turbo for me, which I’m guessing is the intention), and the retro GTI theme isn’t at all evocative of the 5 or Renault.

    1. This concept is an insult to the original design. Today’s buyers will not be able to understand this. That’s why Renault can do it.

    2. I agree, will aggression continue as the goal of designers indefinitely. I include this criticism for far eastern shapes which appear to adhere to the mantra; more is more; and just because you can do something you should. Looking at the efforts of Honda, Nissan etc if their shapes get anymore creases they may just take off and perhaps that would be a good thing.

  14. Enormous ifun were the one model race cups for the R5 that were run everywhere in Europe.
    Here the bumpers were put to good use when one car was slipstreaming the other and used its aerodynamic advantage to push the car in front to higher speed…

  15. To return to a couple of points raised here BTL:

    Jonathan: You are correct, and it has been amended. I would normally have sacked the sub-editor for something as glaring as this (or at the very least placed him in a sack), but since he has disappeared in rather suspicious circumstances, along with Mr. Simon Kearne and the entire DTW budget for 2022, there appears to be no need. Simon will turn up – he always does – when the sherry runs out.

    JTC: As much as I might not hold dear Alec in the very highest regard, there was no intent to sideline or minimise (pun not intended) him or his works in this instance. I was referring to the evolution of the so called ‘supermini’.

    Dave: The option of a floor-mounted gearlever became available in 1973 and certainly by mid-decade the dash-mounted arrangement was probably confined to the 782 cc model. Similarly, the side-exiting exhaust was phased out by the latter end of the ’70s I believe. None of the larger than 1000 cc engined models had this arrangement.

    Charles: I will touch upon the Cinq’s advertising campaign in a forthcoming part.

    gooddog: D’accord. ‘Forced’ is a very good description of the ‘nu-Five’ concept.

    1. The side-exiting exhaust never appeared on any UK spec 5s – it didn’t comply with Construction and Use Regulations.

      I can categorically say that my 1973 5TL and my mother’s 1975 5TL had dashboard gearchanges. The floor change was a rather expensive extra cost option, and was inferior in operation to the direct and conveniently located ‘umbrella handle’. Early 782cc and 845cc base models had another umbrella handle for handbrake operation; the parking brake operated on the front drums, as with the 4. At least the UK cars were spared the barbarity of sliding windows.

      The disc braked TLs had a central handbrake lever operating on the rear drums. The LS/TS and GTL always had floor changes, and they were made standard equipment on the 5 and TL around 76-77.

      On all types the brakes were bloody awful. Ok in operation, but a constant and expensive cause of MOT fails. Corrosion, as noted, was a major problem, but the gearbox and Cleon engine were near-indestructible.

    2. Robertas – yes, I recall a teacher of mine had a yellow 1973 / 1974 UK model, in yellow, with a dash gear change. It also had a full-length sunroof.

      Another teacher had an early 5, and the brakes failed when it was fairly new. Fortunately, he had just come off the motorway and wasn’t going too fast. I believe he came to a halt courtesy of a BMC Farina saloon.

      I’m pleased (amazed) to see that there seems to be quite a good supply of used 5s, and the Supercinq appears to last particularly well.

  16. Thank you Eóin for the memories and the little trip back in time -the R5 was a great design, a masterpiece.

    My sister’s (first) boyfriend was a fan of this car. Here in the background is his first R5.

    And here, this must be a year later, still the same woman in the same trousers. The hairstyle is different and so is the vehicle.

    This R5 was made faster by fitting (contemporary) Talbot mirrors, fog lights, alloy wheels and (very important!) decals. It was a funny time for us, with funny cars.

  17. My father used to work for the company that made the material for the mouldings on the side of the Renault 5. Every time we saw one, on TV or in the metal, he used to say “I helped to make that”.

  18. A really nice design, that looks better today than ever before. The simplicity of it is deceptive, it clearly takes work and a fine eye to achieve something so right with so few elements. I did like the Supercinq, it was a very well considered update, but always looks a bit flat and two dimensional compared with the original, it certainly does not manage the same sense of charm.

    Oh, and it looks so French – which can’t really be said about the current Clio, pretty though that car is.

  19. I had two of these; a TS the sporty one followed a couple of years later when I lived in London by an Automatic. The Automatic seemed to be a model in its own right, not being a TL or TS or GTL or anything else. Even in town it was tragically slow and both models had massive lean on cornering. I liked them a lot. The style was superb and they were way more practical than later small cars like MINIs.

  20. Hi Eóin, your description is flawless: Fiat defined the technical layout, but Renault defined the appearance and architecture of the supermini. The Cinq is a great design. I’m, like many here, also a fan of the SuperCinq: it was probably the car that got me actually looking at car design. Almost an abstraction of a car, but put to fantastic effect. Although, as you point out in “Theme : Benchmarks -The Renault 5 in Five Easy Pieces”, by then the Peugeot 205 had taken the position of supermini benchmark. The ‘revival’ concept lacks all of the charisma, intelligence and attention to detail, I think.

    On an unrelated note:

    “Can you stay here next to me?
    We’ll just keep drivin’
    Because of you I see a light
    The Buick’s a Century, a ’73 like you
    Some strange religion”

    RIP Mark Lanegan.

    1. Tom V: I was saddened to learn of Mark Lanegan’s death. I can’t say I knew his back catalogue well, but I have a copy of Soulsaver’s “It’s not how far you fall, it’s the way you land”, which is a fine record. I thought he did a marvellous cover of Gene Clark’s Some Misunderstanding as well. A poignant loss. RIP.

    2. Certainly, Eóin, I’m not intimately familiar with everything he did (with such a back catalog, that would be a full time job) but I know a few records. Bubblegum (the quote is from the song “Strange Religion” from that album) really touched me. With such a distinctive voice, he managed to cover a staggering variety of musical styles (although, admittedly, with varying results in my opinion).

  21. Eoin, I’m also a great fan of the R5, and I hope further installments shed light upon the various model permutations over its, I think, 12 or 13 year run. I had an R5, bought almost new (a dealer demo) in 1983, here in Canada, black with the pedestal seats in checkerboard cloth and the huge vinyl sunroof. A perfect urban car – and of all the cars we have owned, by far the most unreliable. Rust was the least of our concerns. It was an ongoing litany of electrical and mechanical faults. Yet, in spite of the trials of owning it for almost 4 years (replaced with a Honda Accord, of all things), we loved it.

    Renault sold R5s in Canada from 1976 (maybe) to 1985, far longer than in the US, and we even could buy the poverty spec L with the dash-mounted gear change, at least for the first few years. And not until the later years would they be branded ‘Le Car,’ a ridiculous moniker for the US market that we got by extension, complete with Le Car decals that I removed from the vehicle within days of bringing it home. R5s were quite common at one point, but the last time I saw one here must be over a decade ago…

    Haven’t thought about our R5 for a long time. Thanks for bringing back the memories.

  22. Do like the Renault 5 in spite of its MF layout, particularly its styling that was further refined on the Supercinq as well as its use of integrated bumpers. The lack of a 5-door from the outset might have hampered its success against its rivals though not by much, have to admire how Renault were able to utilize much of the R4 for the original 5 the only omission would have to be the lack of a R2 / VBG city car spin-off.

    Meanwhile the Peugeot 104’s Pininfarina styling language looks like something more suited to a British car than a French one, while honestly do not get the visual appeal of the Series 1 Fiat 127 (both the smaller A112 and larger 128 were more appealing IMHO).

    Is it known if Dacia was interested in building a localised version of either the original Renault 5 or the Supercinq?

  23. Ahh, the 5. The first car I bought for myself: an American spec 1981 four-door (“5 door”?) “Le Car” (1.4 liter engine, 4 speed transmission).

    Loved the look, loved the ride (amazingly smooth for a vehicle that was just 12 feet/4 meters long), loved how I could stuff so many of life’s possessions into 60 square feet of car, loved driving with the roof wide open on summer nights.

    Didn’t love the bumpers, which seemed to fade quickly to an unappealing swirly gray without copious amounts of Armor-All or similar compounds applied, or the blights caused by Americanization (the lump under the passenger side carpet that *tried* to shield the heat from the catalytic converter, the DOT-spec headlamps [quickly remedied by a pair of Cibié Z-Beams], and the absolutely indifferent build quality (the Mazda 323 I cross-shopped against the 5 was much better put together but nowhere near as fun to drive).

    The 5 was a good ride for me but when I started earning enough money, Volkswagen’s Golf (Rabbit) GTI called out to me and I sold the 5 to my brother — who promptly pranged it. Au revoir 5.

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