1970s / 1980s / French / Renault / Rust in peace

Rust in peace: Renault 18 GTL

renault-18-gtl-2We photographed this Renault 18 GTL in a field of wrecked, burned and/or neglected cars located on the outskirts of a small village. The cars are on private property so they are not technically abandoned but their story is difficult to decrypt.

The rear spoiler, the four-lug steel wheels, the front headlights, both bumpers and the dashboard reveal that we’re looking at a post-1983 18.  Its body is rust-free and we believe the driver’s side was dented after the car arrived in the field.

The insurance and registration stickers have been removed from the windshield so it’s hard to tell how long the sedan has been off the road, but it appears to have spent several years sitting under a pine tree and we’re guessing it hasn’t moved under its own power for quite some time.

Although the interior houses enough spider species to be turned into an entomology display at the local college, it is still relatively complete and, all things considered, in remarkably good shape.  The switches and stalks are all accounted for, the dashboard hasn’t been destroyed by the sun or the previous owner’s dogs and the original velours upholstery has held up well thanks in part to a set of unsightly supermarket-spec seat covers.

A mass exodus from European used car dealerships to the north of Africa wiped out a good percentage of the 18 population over the course of the 1990s but it has fared fairly well compared to other Renaults of the era such as the 14 and the Fuego: government statistics reveal that over 2,000 examples are still registered in France.  The story is different in the United Kingdom where just 38 examples are left.

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