The French Car Critical List: Renault

Earlier this year, PetrolBlog spent a worrying amount of time sifting through the data on How Many Left? to identify the rarest French cars on the roads of the Britain. It made for heartbreaking reading for fans of French metal from the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

Just where did they all go? Of course, that’s a rhetorical question, with most either turning to rust or scrapped when deemed beyond economical repair.

The subsequent French Car Critical List simply added to the agony when it identified the rarest Citroën cars, with a distinct whiff of PetrolBloggyness.

As promised, we now turn our attentions to Renault and, by popular demand, we’ve provided the number of cars registered as SORN (off the road) by the DVLA. Enjoy – if you can.

Remember, the information is only as good as the data provided and we’ve only included PetrolBloggy Renaults from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. It’s also worth pointing out that fresh DVLA data has been provided since the original post, with the figures used now up to and including Q1 2014. Enjoy. If you can.

22nd – Renault 5
Number left: 1,803
Number SORN: 2,240

Renault 5 LS

Given that well over five million Renault 5s were produced, it’s no surprise to see a healthy number of 5s remaining in the UK.

To be honest, the Renault 5 isn’t really on the critical list. But we had to include it, if only to use this wonderfully evocative photo of a MK1. C’est magnifique. Or something.

21st – Renault 19
Number left: 834
Number SORN: 876

Renault 19

Again, the Renault 19 and Chamade can’t be categorised as critical, but given the low values on the used car market and the unfashionable nature of all but the performance models, we’ll leave this here as a marker.

Come back this time next year, by which time the number will have dropped quite dramatically.

20th – Renault Vel Satis
Number left: 638
Number SORN: 116

Real World Reviews Renault Vel Satis

The Renault Vel Satis was never a big seller in the UK, but a loyal following and near-cult status should ensure that plenty of cars survive.

Read Oliver ‘Mr Vel Satis’ Hammond’s Real World Review here.

19th – Renault Safrane
Number left: 370
Number SORN: 145

Renault Safrane

In the UK, big French cars are about as popular as a wasp at a picnic. So whilst 370 may seem healthy enough, diving deeper into the data reveals that many engine and trim levels are down to single figures.

Only the Safrane RXE 2.5-litre Executive automatic bucks the trend, with as many as 171 still on the road today.

18th – Renault Avantime
Number left: 272
Number SORN: 65

Renault Avantime

Ah, the Renault Avantime. Much has been written about its brilliance on these here pages.

A guaranteed future classic, with relatively strong values hopefully ensuring many of them survive. Our children need to know what the French were capable of at the turn of the millennium.

17th – Renault 4
Number left: 252
Number SORN: 236

Renault 4

So practical and useable was the Renault 4, that many cars are still enjoying active service in France today. Mind you, with over eight million cars produced, spares should never be a problem.

Production continued until 1993, bringing to an end one of the most successful French cars ever. Just look at it. Perfection.

16th – Renault 21
Number left: 223
Number SORN: 445

Renault 21 GTS

Amazingly, the number of Renault 21s off the road is virtually double that of the number of cars on the road.

Unsurprisingly, this includes a healthy number of 21 Quadras, currently untaxed, awaiting attention. The owners are either saving up or building up the courage to carry out essential repairs.

15th – Renault 9
Number left: 128
Number SORN: 46

Renault-9

The Shatchback version of the Renault 11, a fine piece of work by Robert Opron.

The Renault 9 is a former European Car of the Year, don’t you know?

14th – Renault A610/GTA
Number left: 104
Number SORN: 190

Rear-wheel drive Renaults - Alpine GTA

Already a classic and much-coveted.

We wouldn’t expect to see numbers falling much further.

13th – Renault 11
Number left: 102
Number SORN: 190

Renault 11 Electronic

The Renault 11 is no stranger to PetrolBlog, with the Electronic featuring on the site many moons ago.

And the photo supplied by a reader in Hungary is still one of the best we’ve seen.

12th – Renault 25
Number left: 88
Number SORN: 207

Renault 25

Another offering from Robert Opron, with an interior styled by none other than Marcello Gandini. Yes, he of Lamborghini Countach fame. Which, ahem, had a single wiper.

OK, back on topic, we really want a Renault 25 – desperately. Have you seen the interior?

11th – Renault 16
Number left: 65
Number SORN: 18

Renault 16

The Renault 16 encapsulates everything we love about French cars, combining acres of space, hatchback practicality and levels of ride comfort to shame even a new Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Of course, we all want the performance 16TX version, but with rust killing most, just a chance to own a 16 would be enough.

10th – Renault 12
Number left: 64
Number SORN: 46

Renault 12 Gordini

A Renault 12 Gordini – words aren’t required here.

This is quite simply one of the coolest photos of one of the coolest cars in the world. Ever. Quite possibly.

9th – Renault 15/17
Number left: 57
Number SORN: 23

Renault 17 TS

Louvred rear quarters, yellow-tinted quad headlamps, French plates and the most interesting front bumper design you’ll ever see.

Yes, we want a Renault 17. Badly.

8th – Renault 8
Number left: 51
Number SORN: 24

Rear-wheel drive Renaults - 8 Gordini

As we’ve said before, the Renault 8 was essentially born too long ago to feature on PetrolBlog, but it’s included for two reasons.

Firstly, production crept into the 1970s. And secondly – and perhaps more importantly – we can use this photo again.

7th – Renault 20/30
Number left: 36
Number SORN: 24

Renault 20 4x4 Paris-Dakar

Just 36 of these remain, with the 20 accounting for the lion share, with 27 survivors.

It made for an unlikely rally car…

6th – Renault 18
Number left: 33
Number SORN: 54

Renault 18

Of all the cars featured here, it’s the Renault 18 we fear for the most. Does anyone care enough to save it?

You could have owned a Cortina or Cavalier. But for the rear spoiler design and alloy wheels of the Turbo model shown above, you really should have bought the 18.

5th – Renault 10/1100
Number left: 27
Number SORN: 9

Renault 10

To all intents and purposes, this was a run-out special, designed to breathe new life into the ageing Renault 8.

It’s now a classic, so we don’t expect numbers to fall much further.

4th – Renault 6 – 25
Number left: 25
Number SORN: 9

Renault 6

The ‘posh’ version of the Renault 4.

Yet it’s the pauper who has the last laugh, with the prince struggling for breath as it faces a fight for survival.

3rd – Renault Sport Spider
Number left: 24
Number SORN: 35

Renault Sport Spider

Also known as ‘the French Lotus Elise’.

UK buyers were treated to a windscreen. Which was nice.

2nd – Renault Fuego
Number left: 18
Number SORN: 53

Renault Fuego GTS

Oh, the poor Renault Fuego. In French, Fuego translates to ‘The French Ford Capri’. No really, it does.

But whilst values of the Ford Capri continue to rise, the Fuego just faces a fight for survival. If you own one, don’t scrap it. Please!

1st – Renault 14
Number left: 8
Number SORN: 4

Whatever happened to...the Renault 14?

So we’re left with ‘the pear’ – the Renault 14. There are just a dozen cars left in the UK. Ask yourself, when did you last see one?

It was never really loved, which is a shame, as it offered enough space for five adults plus their luggage. It also featured an innovative rear seating arrangement, which could be folded away to provide near estate car levels of capacity. Now nearly extinct.

All data provided by How Many Left? If you know of any inaccuracies, please let us know. Next up, Peugeot…

All images © Renault, except the Renault 10 © Charles01 and the 11 Electronic © Ati04.

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ABOUT AUTHOR
Gavin Big-Surname
The chief waffler and founder of PetrolBlog in 2010. Has a rather unhealthy obsession with cars from the 80s and 90s, and is on a one-man mission to collect the cars nobody else wants. Also likes tea and Hobnobs.

21 comments

  1. July 22, 2014
    Ant

    I’d own any car on this list. In fact, I really want a Fuego or an 11. Or a 19 16v or Avantime, but those are the more obvious choices.

    I’ll admit I’d never actually heard of the Renault 20 or 30 though. I genuinely didn’t know they existed.

    Reply
    • July 22, 2014
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      To be fair, I can’t remember the last time I saw a 20 or 30. And they didn’t all look like the 4×4 Paris Dakar car!

      The Renault 19 or Chamade 16v tops my list at the moment…

      Reply
      • July 24, 2014
        Ant

        If I had the space, I’d probably already have one!

        Reply
  2. July 22, 2014
    Andrew

    One of our teachers at high school owned a Renault 14 back in ’82. Not seen one on the road since then.

    Reply
    • July 22, 2014
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      Our neighbours had one, probably around the same time.

      Seemed quite popular at the time, but the Renault 14 has disappeared without anyone even noticing.

      Reply
  3. July 22, 2014
    Peter Counsell

    Renault 25, without a mention of Rosalyn Landor? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Moaz4ZrM65w
    “You aren’t being a bit hasty about this, are you?”

    Reply
    • July 22, 2014
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      That’s brilliant. Had forgotten about that.

      Love the authentic VHS action, too!

      Reply
  4. July 22, 2014
    Ben

    Sometime in the early 90’s Car magazine did a feature on finding a car for £500 you could drive to Scotland in. I believe Richard Bremner chose a Renault 14. It made it, but I think the front seat collapsed and had to be propped up by wood.

    Reply
    • July 22, 2014
      scott

      Surprised at the 21 being only number 16, i own a nice 21 turbo, previously owned a quadra and i can say that a lot of the ones that are sorn are probably for spares only due to rust issues and lack of new parts, but what a great underated french car….

      Reply
      • July 24, 2014
        Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

        The fact that the owners still register them as SORN suggests they may harbour plans to breathe new life into them one day. We can live in home.

        Still amazed by the on-road/SORN ratio of the 21!

        Reply
  5. July 24, 2014
    Richard Birchenough

    Well, I’ve got:

    1979 R18TL, 1983 R18 American, 1985 R18GTX Estate
    1984 R9 GTL Avenue
    1984 R11 TXE Electronic
    1987 R5GTX, 1989 R5TR, 1989 R5 Monaco
    1989 R19TSE

    and there’ll be more to come – 14 included.

    Am I doing my bit?

    Reply
  6. July 24, 2014
    Steve

    I have two Renault 14’s. Neither has a SORN. They are exempt due to the dates they were last on the road. I have some other gems as well, which I might be willing to part with.

    Reply
    • October 29, 2016
      Mark

      Would love one if your 14’s steve!

      Reply
  7. July 24, 2014
    Roy Prosser

    The situation for Renault 5’s as opposed to Super 5’s is more perilous, there are only about 50 left. Mine being one of them.

    Reply
  8. July 25, 2014
    andrew

    I own 2 17 gordini,s phase 1 but on how many left it says none remaining I not bothered to register these in my name

    Reply
  9. July 25, 2014
    S Blythe
    Reply
    • August 1, 2014
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      Wow!

      Depressing and amazing in equal measure. Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
  10. July 28, 2014
    Darren Leslie

    Gentlemen, we salute all those with Renaults on the endangered list. But we need pictures! Lots of them….

    Reply
  11. July 29, 2014
    Macaulay

    Such great cars, it’s such a shame that we never see them anymore. My dad used to own a Renault 14 back in the 80s too. I’d love to own a Renault 8.

    Reply
  12. July 29, 2014
    Kenny Carwash

    There’s a Renault specialist near me that has an immaculate restored 12 out front. I’m not going to plug them though, not after they charged my wife £150 to close the sunroof on her Megane when the motor blew (eventually got a new motor fitted for under £100).

    One of the teachers at my school had a GTA and I’ve always wondered where she found the money. I’d love an Avantime or Vel Satis, although the 4 is rather tempting and I always had a soft spot for the Fuego.

    Reply
  13. October 16, 2014
    Mike in Wimbledon

    Hold on, Messieurs! What about my first two cars: the Renault Dauphine?

    I can see 13 listed on How many left.

    A genuinely iconic 1950’s car that very gently rolled into the Swinging Sixties.

    Reply

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