1980s / French / Renault

As clean as they come: Renault Fuego Turbo

frankfurt-motor-show-renault-fuego-turbo-7The Renault Fuego is a rare sight no matter where you look: Just 472 examples are currently registered in France and a mere 28 are accounted for in the United Kingdom. Statistics for the United States are not available but few were sold through AMC dealerships and even fewer remain.

Launched in 1980 to replace the 15 and the 17, the Fuego was a cocktail of parts sourced from the 18 and the 20/30 bolted to an aerodynamic wedge-shaped body.  Its overall design was characterized by a large glass hatch and a copious amount of plastic trim, earning it the unenviable reputation of being a poor man’s Porsche 924.

The Fuego started its career as a popular alternative to the Volkswagen Scirocco but sales started dropping as early as 1982.  Renault tried to lure buyers into showrooms by fitting the car with potent engines (including a 2.0-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder that was well ahead of its time) and a host of available high-tech equipment including remote keyless entry and a multi-function steering wheel, but the hot hatch era was in full swing and affordable coupes were no longer in demand.

The Fuego clinged to life until it was phased out in 1986, though production carried on until 1995 in Argentina.

A bad reputation generally haunts a car decades after it goes out of production and the Fuego is a flop on the collector car market. Enthusiast say there’s something amiss about the coupe and it mostly appeals to diehard Renault fans, making it uncommon at vintage car shows.

We were surprised to see this post-facelift Fuego Turbo at the Frankfurt Motor Show that took place last September. It was hidden away with a few other unappreciated 80s classics such as a Fiat Ritmo Convertible and a BMW 524td (E28) as part of a display that showcased collector cars from the 1980s.

Is the Fuego finally getting the recognition it deserves?

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