Bangerwatch: Renault 9TL Biarritz

Bangerwatch: Renault 9TL Biarritz

Aside from being a city in southwestern France, for many people of a certain age, the name Biarritz will mean one of two things. Either a box of chocolates or a three-box French saloon car.

Who could resist the temptation of the ‘so sweet’ Cadbury Biarritz chocolates? The promise of ‘unique shapes’ or the ‘exciting centres’ sound appealing enough, but I’m slightly worried about the promise of ‘strange things in the Biarritz triangle’. Sounds painful. Back in the ’80s I would have been far happier with a box of Terry’s All Gold or Ferrero Rocher.

No, you can stick your fancy chocolates. Soft focus lenses, big blonde hair and a Sade tribute act aren’t enough to tempt me away from a Hobnob. There’s only one Biarritz worth remembering and that’s the special edition of the Renault 9 from 1984/85.

Monsieur is really spoiling us with this Biarritz found languishing on eBay. The Renault 9 is no stranger to PetrolBlog, with Robert Opron’s, ahem, finest creation, already making an appearance in a Whatever happened to? feature. Admittedly, this isn’t the best example you’ll come across, but when there are only six left on the road, beggars can’t be choosers.

As the saloon cousin of the Renault 11, the 9 could creep into the realms of Shatchback, but as the 9 came first, we’d have to bend the rules a little. But when put alongside the MK1 VW Jetta and Ford Orion, there’s a distinct sense that Shatchbacks get better with age. Discuss.

The Biarritz was available in two special edition colours, which broadly speaking can be described as light grey or dark grey. Not colours that immediately spring to mind when you think of a French coastal resort on the banks of the Atlantic Ocean. But maybe the addition of a sunroof and red go-faster stripes help to raise its appeal somewhat? Then again…

Renault 9TL Biarritz side profile

As special conditions go, the 9TL Biarritz was quite successful for Renault and I remember seeing many of them pottering around the streets of Hampshire and Dorset when I was growing up. It therefore comes as no surprise to discover that, according to How Many Left?, as recently as 1994 there were 2,400 Biarritz special editions on the road. But come the turn of the millennium, the Biarritz was in the midst of a cataclysmic fall from grace. By 2001 the number had fallen to 250, before dropping into single figures last year. Unusually for a car such as this, there are none registered as SORN.

The seller of this particular Biarritz breaks a number of PetrolBlog’s eBay rules, using a red typeface, taking some dodgy photos and listing it on behalf of a friend. But at least in this instance can we forgive the ‘very rare’ claim.

Renault 9TL Biarritz front view

Ad text as follows:

I’m selling this car on behalf of a good friend of mine as he doesnt have internet access. What im about to explain to you is what he’s written down for me to put. Right ….its been in the family since 1989, but has been told he cant drive no more, so has decided to sell it,as it has not been getting used. It’s a Renault 9TL Biarritz, I’ve tried looking one up but can’t seem to find one so this must be one that’s on the road left. As you can see in the pics it does need some TLC. The back seat will prob need replacing as its been in the sun a lot and the sun has faded it causing it to wear apart. The driver’s side rear door is quite rusty as shown in pics but nothing you wouldn’t expect of a car its age. Starts on the button and drives well and also still has a bit of MOT on it.

If the mileage of 50,000 can be verified, then the current price of £200 seems reasonable for a 27-year-old car with a few months MOT left. Its 1.4 litre engine produces just 60bhp and helps to propel the Biarritz to a top speed of 94bhp, showing that the special edition rear spoiler is a triumph of form over function. But then this was the mid ‘80s and spoilers and stripes ruled the streets of Britain.

Renault 9TL Biarritz rear view

You’ll need to hunt down the original hubcaps and you’ll also need to do something about the worn out rear seat, but aside from some rust issues, this Renault 9 looks ready to go. Who knows, it could be one of the best left in the UK. Pretty sure it should have a Philips radio casette player though.

Remember that strange things happen in the Biarritz. Surely that’s enough to tempt you? £200 for a some French saloon action looks like much better value for money than an overpriced box of chocolates.

Chocolate Truffle anyone?

View the ad for the Renault 9TL Biarritz on eBay here, but be quick, the auction closes in two days and there’s no reserve.

Ad photos courtesy of eBay. Library images courtesy of Autos Series Limitees.


Written by Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

The chief waffler and person responsible for getting PetrolBlog off the ground in February 2010. Has a deep fascination of cars from the '80s and '90s, especially if they originate from France. Also likes tea and Hobnobs.

12 Comments

  1. Simon Hingston

    Aah memories. My Grandad had an 11 Biarritz (pretty sure it was that ‘limited edition’ from new for a few years. Doubt it lasted long after that though. As you say not a great advert for how to sell a car but at least it’s cheap unlike a lot of 80s fodder these days.

  2. Stephen

    I remember these well, there was a load of them round our way. Perfect for the aspirational 80’s with it’s spoilers, stripes, and naming after a glamorous resort – all show and little go, though.

    Now if you could find a nice Vauxhall Belmont Antibes for a companion piece, you’ll have the makings of a fine series here.

    1. Chris Auty (@drivingspirit)

      I have fond memories of Vauxhall’s Antibes special editions. My mum had a C-reg Nova and I thrashed the b@11ocks off it through my university years until I could afford my own car.

      Bright red, white wheelcaps (faded to yellow over the years) and sunroof (with leak), 1.2-litres of sheer averageness and a 5-speed box.

      As the first car I drove after passing my test it meant a hell of a lot to me, even if it didn’t stack up as the world’s greatest drivers’ car. Just wish I’d got some pictures of it.

  3. Antony Ingram (@antonyingram)

    I remember there being a Renault 19 Biarritz too, among the dozens of other 19 special editions. Think it was available in marginally brighter hues, too.

    I fear that the scrappage scheme was at least partly to blame for the low numbers left – granted they’ve never really been enthusiasts cars as such, but I can’t believe they all just expired naturally in that time from neglect.

      1. adrian

        Scrapage. Driving through france I saw huge compounds of old cars clearly the french hadn’t got the hange of scrapage as we had and didn’t get round to crushage. The Major would have a field day amongst the abandoned jems.

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