*This is a translation done by a machine.
From EV city commuters to F1. Renault used to make trucks as well (Renault Trucks is now part of Volvo), so there is no doubt that Renault is Europe's leading manufacturer of four-wheeled vehicles, like a general department store.
Although the brand has a strong image as a mass-market brand, it has long been active in motorsports, purchasing French brands such as Gordini and Alpine and applying them to marketing while continuing to provide vehicles for all kinds of motorsports categories, from amateur to F1 and endurance racing at the top of the sport.
Renault has long been particularly good at one-make racing. For a long time since the 1960s, commercial vehicles were modified for racing, but in the 1990s, an organization called Renault Sport, which controlled motor sports activities, decided to develop a dedicated machine for one-make racing.
At that time, the production of the Alpine A610, the flagship sports car of the group, was coming to an end, and the RR sports car lineage that had continued from the A110 was coming to an end. Renault therefore planned to convert the racing car developed for one-make use into a production model. This was the Renault Sport Spider.
Therefore, the road version of the Spider that appeared in 1995 had only minimal security equipment and initially attracted attention as a totally spartan model without even windows. The slightly timid might have been hesitant to even get on board.
Since Renault Sport has a wealth of experience in developing formula and racing cars, the construction was both maniacal and skillfully cost-effective.
The framework was made of welded aluminum, covered with an FRP body cowl of unique design, and a push-rod suspension system like a racing car, all ideas unique to Renault Sport.
On the other hand, the rear midship was equipped with a four-cylinder engine for Clio Williams, and the brake system, instrument panel, switches, one-arm wipers, turn signals, mirrors, rear lights, etc., were made from existing products, thus successfully combining individuality and cost reduction.
Equipment is minimal. As mentioned above, there were no windows at first, but later front windows and small side windows were added. Enthusiasts came to distinguish the former as a saute-vent and the latter as a pare-brise.
Even though it became a pare-brise, it still lacked the features that a passenger car should have, such as air conditioning, audio, power steering, brake booster, and ABS. It was a racing car that was barely allowed to be driven on public roads.
When the car was new, I had the experience of test driving Spider several times. What remains in my memory is the car's easy-to-tread engine performance, roll-free chassis movement, and unparalleled stability in handling. Together with the Tommy kaira ZZ and the Lotus Elise, both of which were born around the same time and have the same aluminum body, the Spider is a representative of the sports cars of the 1990s that allow you to genuinely enjoy driving.
As a side note, Renault Sport continued to produce sports models coveted by enthusiasts based on popular models such as the Clio and Megane, but in 2021 they were integrated into Alpine. F1 activities also continued under the Alpine brand name.
From Alpine to Renault Sport and back to Alpine again. In that sense, it is no exaggeration to say that this Spider is historic as the only original Renault Sport model.
|Jun Nishikawa's Highlights!|
This 1998 pare-brise is a rare silver color with very low mileage. It is one of only 100 units officially imported by France Motors. The current owner, who has a lot of sports car experience, acquired this car about a year ago and has been enjoying its exhilarating driving experience, but has decided to reduce the number of cars he owns.
As far as I can see, it is in excellent condition for a spartan sports car, although there are some signs of age-related deterioration (lifted paint on the FRP body) and signs of use typical of sports models (scratches caused by stepping stones, etc.) in places. This is not a model that would compete in Concours d'Elegance. It is a hard sports car without a roof, and the quality of the plastic is not so high due to the small number of cars produced, so it is safe to say that there is little change beyond ageing.
The headlight covers are also made of glass and are in beautiful condition, as is the windscreen, which is not yellowed like the plexi ones. The wheels also have some scratches from stepping stones, but there are no severe scuffs or scratches. The paint lifting on the right door and left side sill is a concern, but it is a sign that the car has never been replaced, which may be one of the reassuring factors for a sports car of this type.
The exhaust manifold and end pipes have been replaced with SIFO ones, but the stock parts are still there. The only other non-original part is the seat cushion. The seat cushion has been modified to lower the seating position to suit the taller owner.
This legendary sports car is in extremely good condition. In terms of pure driving enjoyment, these precious real sports cars from the 1990s, which are much more modern and easier to handle than classic cars, are a category that should be reevaluated as driving fans are disappearing.
Originally written by Jun Nishikawa
Photo by Hidehiro Tanaka
Published on August 2022
|Year of Purchase||Oct 1998|