With all the wizardry derived from F1 and a hand-built production line, the Renault 5 Turbo was an extremely successful display of technology and passion from the deputy director of the Product Planning Department, Jean Terramorsi. Terramorsi’s seniors went along with the idea because they felt it was important to come up with a worthy successor to the Renault 8 Gordini and Alpine Berlinette.
The 5 Turbo made its competition debut on the 1979 Tour of Italy, but only really showed its true potential during the 1980 Tour of Corsica, where the car driven by Jean Ragnotti looked set for victory until a mechanical failure sidelined it. The first victory came in its fourth event, the 1981 Monte Carlo Rally.
With the all clear, road car production began in 1980 at Alpine’s Dieppe plant. Developed by Renault’s Bureau d’Etudes et de Researches Exploratoire, it shared heaps with the 250bhp rally car – from a 1397cc push-rod four-cylinder, complete with 7:1 compression ratio, Garrett T3 turbo and intercooler. 160bhp was achieved in road trim and the zero to 100km/h sprint covered in 6.9 seconds. Handling proved twitchy but steering response made this tameable and extremely fun. Drive was put to the tarmac via a five-speed gearbox and the rear wheels. Like other European cars of the time tyre sizes were metric, so shopping for new rubber today can be a touch pricey.