This Renault 5, currently up for online auction, is powered by a Mazda 13B two-rotor engine
The Renault 5 Turbo epitomises all that was awesome about rallying in the 1980s. Here was an ordinary French hatchback normally aimed at families, radically transformed into a mid-engined, heavy-boosted WRC maniac.
The car had already been kicking around for a few years when Group B regulations came along, for which the mid-engined 5 was the ideal starting point. Renault added an aluminium roof with a distinctive rubber border, lighter doors and a reworked engine. Into the latter went a new crank, a stronger turbo and more. Despite only displacing 1.4 litres, it’s good for around 170bhp in road-going homologation form.
400 ‘8221’ Maxi 5 Turbos were made, 200 of which were in the later ‘Evolution’ guise. They’re rare beasts here in Europe, let alone in the USA. The car you see here was imported to California when new, but that’s far from the only unusual thing about it.
Gone is the 1.4-litre Renault unit, replaced with a 1.3-litre Mazda 13B turbocharged twin-rotor engine producing somewhere around 300bhp. Remember, in stock form these cars weigh under a tonne. It must be a furiously little thing to drive, and it certainly looks bonkers enough in the video below.
The rotary engine powers the rear wheels via the original Renault five-speed manual transaction using a modified bell housing. There’s a Turbotechnics snail with an adjustable boost controller, a custom fabricated oil pan, a new radiator and an external oil cooler.
The whole shebang was taken out in 2018 for a thorough service, at which time the clutch slave cylinder, gaskets for the turbocharger and the exhaust manifold were all renewed. Also during its most recent ownership, the 5 has been treated to repairs around where the fibreglass arch flares meet the steel body, plus refurbished bumpers and side skirts.
Inside it’s all pretty original, save for an aftermarket head unit and a fire extinguisher system. The original seats are present and correct, looking to offer hilariously little in the way of side support. But hey, they look good. There are some cracks in the A-pillar trim and between the oil pressure and boost gauges, but otherwise, the cabin is in decent order.
The odometer currently shows a mere 21,226 miles, although the actual figure is said to be unknown. Like what you see? Better have a decent chunk of cash to part with – at the time of writing, the online auction on Bring a Trailer is already at a cool $41,752 with five days to go. We can see that figure rising considerably.