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Little Classics News: 23 June 2014

Renault to Arrive with an Array of Classics at Festival of Speed

Renault will parade its amazing breadth of creativity at the 2014 Goodwood Festival of Speed, with a wide-ranging array of competition cars of extraordinary variety, and a series of concept cars that shine a glamorous light on the brand’s dazzling future (their words not ours)…

However, we’re more interested in some of the classic cars they will also be rolling out amongst their showy-off new stuff.

Renault’s creative drive is demonstrated by landmark vehicles from its sporting 115-year history, including the sensational 1978 Le Mans-winning Alpine A442B, the 1977 Groupe 5 Alpine A310 rally car, the enormous and extraordinary-looking 1926 Renault 40CV ‘des records’, a 1902 Renault Type K that was one of the world’s earliest racing cars, four Formula 1 show cars and the Formula E Spark-Renault SRT_01E. The F1 cars include Alain Prost’s carbon-fibre chassised RE40, which won four times during the 1983 season, almost netting him the championship.

1902 Renault Type K

The Type K (top) brought Renault its first international racing victory in 1902. The company entered three cars in the Paris to Vienna race, although few thought they had much chance of winning against several far more powerful cars. But the Type K’s low weight was a real asset on the races hilly roads, and brought Marcel Renault victory, covering 807 miles at an average speed of 38.8mph.

1926 Renault 40CV Type NM des records

1926 Renault 40CV Type NM des records

This spectacular classic car sat at the pinnacle of the Renault range in the 1920s and took part in many of the speed trials. In 1926 the ultimate version of this 9.0 litre car was developed for speed trials, complete with single seat, streamlined coupe bodywork, exposed wheels and a 14-strong crew trained in the art of refuelling it. It covered 50 miles at 118.1mph, and went on to achieve a 24-hour average of 107.9mph – big speeds for a production-based car of the day.

1935 Renault Nervasport

1935 Renault Nervasport

The Nervasport racer was powered by Renault's second 8-cylinder in-line unit, inspired by aviation engineering developments. With this engine, the "Nerva" series would achieve a most distinguished record. The Nervasport finished second in the 1932 Monte-Carlo Rally, just two tenths of a second behind the winner. It turned in its most spectacular performance at the speed ring in Montlhéry. In April 1934, a specially prepared Nervasport won several endurance records in all categories. It covered more than 8,000 km in 48 hours, an average of over 100mph with a top speed of close to 125mph.

A podium came in 1935 with victory in the Monte-Carlo Rally (and another Nervasport took 4th place). The two teams, from Norway and Estonia, had faced extremely harsh winter conditions, with icy roads and temperatures down to -20°C. Exploit followed upon exploit, as the Nervasport won the 1935 Liège-Rome-Liège race (4,500 km in a single leg) and took second place in the Morocco Rally, behind Bugatti.

1965 Alpine M65

1965 Alpine M65

The unassumingly named M65 was not only exquisitely pretty, but very effective as a Le Mans racer during the mid ‘60s. A four cylinder of a mere 1.3 litres occupied its shapely tail, but this motor developed an impressive 165bhp in a car that only weighed 669kg. This excellent power-to-weight ratio and a slippery skin allowed it the Alpine to run at speeds of over 160mph. It was campaigned by Mauro Bianchi and Henri Grandsire at the 1965 Le Mans 24 hours, and in 1966 with Pauli Toivonen and Bengt Jansson. Bad luck saw it dropping out of both races, but it saw glory in the 1965 Reims 12 hours with a class win and seventh place, followed by a superb victory in the Nurburgring 500km.

1977 Alpine A310 Groupe B

1977 Alpine A310 Groupe B

The striking Alpine A310 succeeded the legendary A110, updating the high-performance rear-engined coupe concept with pretty, sharp-edged styling, the addition of rear seats and more civility. Early cars had 1.6 litre fours, the A319 later gaining the 2.7 litre PRV V6. In this form it was developed as a Groupe B rally car, in 1977 winning the French Rally championship against far more powerful opposition.

1978 Alpine A442B Le Mans car

1978 Alpine A442B Le Mans car

Renault contested the legendary Le Mans 24 hour race three times with the dramatic Alpine A442B, Didier Pironi and Jean-Pierre Jassaud winning the event on the car’s third outing in 1978. Powered by a turbocharged 2.0 litre, the Alpine’s powertrain signalled the dramatic stories to come when Renault departed sports car racing for Formula One after this impressive victory.

1983 Renault RE40 Formula 1 car

1983 Renault RE40 Formula 1 car

The RE40 was Renault’s first Formula One car to use a carbon-fibre tub. The RE40’s cause was further aided by Renault’s now long-running 1.5 litre turbo engine, which was by now running twin turbochargers to achieve a spectacular 880hp. Alain Prost was runner-up in the world championship, scoring four wins from 14 races, three pole positions and three fastest laps, too. It’s still searing performance can be witnessed over the Festival weekend.

1984 Renault R5 Maxi Turbo

1984 Renault R5 Maxi Turbo

By the mid ‘70s the sun had finally set on the Alpine A110’s glittering rally career, Renault’s rival Lancia dominating the scene with its mid-engined Stratos. Renault’s surprising answer to this Ferrari-powered supercar was an urban supermini; its hugely successful Five chosen as the unlikely basis for small, light and fast new mid-engined weapon. The idea was to move its engine from the front to the middle of the car to improve its traction and handling. The result was a rather strange looking Five, its rear wings distended by swollen wheel arches, its rear seats sacrificed to a box housing a highly tuned, turbocharged 1.4 litre engine of 162bhp.



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