In the world of rallying, few cars have left a mark as indelible as the Renault 5 Turbo. Built as a mid-engined homologation special for Group 4 and Group B rallying from 1980 to 1986, this limited-production gem stands apart from its front-wheel-drive counterparts like the Renault 5 Gordini Turbo or GT Turbo. With Renault’s expertise in Formula 1-derived turbocharging, the unassuming 1.4-liter overhead-valve engine was transformed into a powerhouse, delivering 160bhp (in road trim) and propelling the car to a top speed of 125mph, with a 0-60mph sprint under seven seconds.
What truly sets the Renault 5 Turbo apart is its mid-engine configuration, displacing the rear passenger seats in favor of the powerplant. The engine’s might is harnessed through a five-speed transaxle, channeling power to the rear wheels. This design transformed the Renault 5 into a stripped-down two-seater supercar, purpose-built for dominating both the road and the rally stage.
The Renault 5 Turbo made its debut at the 1978 Paris Salon in prototype form, capturing the attention of onlookers. In 1980, Jean Ragnotti piloted a 250bhp works car at the Tour de Corse, leading the event before succumbing to electrical issues. However, Ragnotti’s skill and the car’s potential were fully realized the following year, when he and co-driver Andrié secured a resounding victory at the Monte Carlo Rally. Ragnotti repeated his success in 1982, triumphing once again at the Tour de Corse.
As rival teams began employing four-wheel-drive cars, Renault responded by introducing more potent versions of the 5 Turbo, including the 5 Tour de Corse and the 5 Maxi Turbo. Ragnotti continued to showcase his driving prowess, adding another Tour de Corse win to his accolades in 1985. Despite its accomplishments, Renault focused primarily on French national events, leaving us to speculate on the 5 Turbo’s potential had it been given the opportunity to compete internationally.
This example, initially delivered in Switzerland, has been modified to pay homage to the iconic Ragnotti/Andrié, Calberson-sponsored Group 4 Renault 5 Turbo rally car. It serves as a reminder of the car’s legendary status and the thrilling era of rallying it represents.
This Renault 5 Turbo is being auctioned by Bonhams at The Bonmont Sale – Collector’s Motor Cars in Cheserex, Switzerland – Click here for more information on Bonhams website