Let’s be honest, in the world of classic cars, Rarity is King. Owning something a little out of the ordinary; making a statement; being unique. Collector’s cars such as those featured in yesterday’s report from the Hampton Court Concours are of course testament to this. But as always, ViaRETRO is here to tell you that a similar effect can… ehrmm, kind of… be achieved even on a tight budget…
And of course, there’s nowhere better to look than towards the French for a bit of quirky uniqueness – that’s not opinion; that’s fact! We’ve touched on that subject several times before, but perhaps never in more depth than last year when Dave asked: France – Where Did it All Go Wrong? Mind you, it’s not that the French messed up the modern day automobile more than did other nations, it’s just that they fell from a pedestal well above the rest. This perhaps made their decline even more disappointing. But up through the eighties, there was still a bit of sparkle left in the French car industry: Innovation, individualism and a desire to do things in their own way.
Don’t believe me? Well, look no further than the fabulously eighties Renault Fuego. Okay, so it’s not quite a Delage or Delahaye is it? But it still manages to have a distinct Frenchness to it and the four-seater coupé certainly stands out compared to its period competitors. That’s no coincidence either – when Michel Jardin penned the Fuego’s distinct lines, it was all done under close supervision of the French design legend, Robert Opron of Citroën SM, GS and CX fame. It’s an interesting design which is both quite aerodynamic for its time while still lending the coupé a surprisingly spacious interior. Though I must confess that it probably hasn’t aged quite as well as some of the more iconic French designs. Much like its predecessor, the Renault 15 and 17 coupé, there’s an elegance to the Fuego, but in a slightly clumsy way – if that makes any sense.
When the new Renault Fuego was launched in 1980 – not unlike its aging competitors such as the Peugeot 504 Coupé, Opel Manta B and Ford Capri – the pretty coupé body hid a mass-produced drivetrain and chassis utilised for ordinary family saloons. Though the Fuego did pioneer a new front suspension for Renault, the rest was largely identical with the four-door Renault 18. Engines ranged from a base 1.4-litre in the TL through a variety of 1.6-litre engines to a 2-litre in the GTX. From 1983 onwards, there was even the range-topping 1.6-litre Turbo pushing out a moderately sporty 110hp. And while I’m hardly a fan of diesel engines, it’s only far to include the 2.1-litre turbodiesel which was available in the Fuego from 1982 – thereby making it one of the first diesel-engined coupés on the market; well before this became a must for virtually every manufacturer.
Of course, we can probably all agree that if you’re in the market for a Fuego, it’s probably the Turbo you should aim for – or at the very least the GTX. But if you’re prioritising rarity, you might not always have the choice. That’s certainly the case here. According to the vendor of this UK-market Renault Fuego, there’s only one Fuego currently road registered in the UK and that’s this one. So while it’s perhaps a little unfortunate that it’s the base 1.4TL, if you want a RHD Fuego on your drive, you’ll clearly have to compromise when it comes to engine power. On a positive note; the lack of oomph will of course slow down the rate at which you’re travelling, allowing you time to fully appreciate that you will never experience an identical car approaching you on the road or pulling up next to you at a classic car show. Now who said you needed a Delahaye for that privilege?
This particular Renault Fuego TL is a 1984 model presented in a very befitting gold metallic, which makes the distinctive plastic streaks which protrude either side of the baseline of the side windows stand out even more. The vendor also claims that it drives well and it certainly looks quite smart in the pictures. He does however admit that the seats would benefit from a refurb while the odometer doesn’t work. In my opinion, the cheap aftermarket plastic wheel covers don’t do the Fuego any favours either. I would personally prefer the bare stock steel wheels until I eventually managed to locate a complete set of the funky asymmetric factory alloys with the two black streaks across them. Here are a few pictures which we’ve borrowed from the advert:
Mileage is given at 81,000 miles equating to approximately 130,000km and the Fuego comes with a current MOT as well. It’s for sale in Carlisle in the very north of England and can be yours for what appears to be a very reasonable £6,800, which will currently cost you Euro 7,700. It certainly seems a remarkable level of rarity for a relatively modest outlay – even if it’s unlikely to get you invited to next year’s Hampton Court Concours… Here’s a link to the full advert: 1984 Renault Fuego TL
With our Saturday instalment of Prime Find of the Week, we’re offering our services to the classic car community, by passing on our favourite classic car for sale from the week that passed. This top-tip might help a first-time-buyer to own his first classic, or it could even be the perfect motivation for a multiple-classic-car-owner to expand his garage with something different. We’ll let us inspire by anything from a cheap project to a stunning concours exotic, and hope that you will do the same.
Just remember – Any Classic is Better than No Classic! We obviously invite our readers to help prospective buyers with your views and maybe even experiences of any given model we feature. Further to that, if you stumble across a classic which you feel we ought to feature as Prime Find of the Week, then please send us a link to firstname.lastname@example.org