Tangerine Dream: Renault 20 TS

“Renault 20 TS: the 2.0-litre with content.” Not the catchiest line ever to emerge from a coffee- and coke-enriched ad agency brainstorming session, but as it’s a rough translation from a Dutch TV ad, we’ll give the guys a little slack.

Besides, “de tweeliter met inhoud” sounds far more exotic. From this day forward, all 2.0-litre cars to feature on PetrolBlog will be referred to as ‘tweeliters’.

This advertisement from 1979 has got it all. Renault 20 TS – check. Evocative Tangerine Dream soundtrack – check. Yellow headlights – check. Sure, the man wearing the driving gloves probably wishes he was tearing across the French countryside in a 2.7-litre V6 Renault 30, but at least the 20 had all the creature comforts of the larger-engined flagship.

Note the incredibly cool display of warning lights that circle the clock: a kind of Bullseye prize board, where lights certainly don’t mean prizes. And the clock itself is ideally positioned to provide a countdown to when one of the lights illuminate, indicating that something is wrong. Or that terminal failure is imminent.

“No other luxury car, at the price, has as many features fitted as standard as the new Renault 20 TS,” proclaimed the 1978 UK press ad. Central locking, adjustable headlights, a diagnostic plug, reclining seats, the aforementioned warning lights, power steering and electric front wheels are a small selection of gadgets hidden inside this futuristic hatchback shell.

Yes, at a time when luxury cars were largely four-door saloons, the Renault 20 and 30 were pioneers of a new wave of hatchbacks. This was as forward-thinking as the trance-inducing, synthesised music of Tangerine Dream. Only a little less atmospheric.

Renault 20 1976

Nearly four decades on, the ad still has the power to excite. If, after revelling in 30 seconds of vintage advertising, your ears haven’t been seduced by electronica and your eyes widened by yellow-tinted goodness, you’re reading the wrong blog.

If, on the other hand, it’s taking all of your willpower not to fly to Nice in order to collect a large French barge, stick Stratosfear on repeat, and point yourself in the direction of Route Napoléon, pull up a reclining velour chair. You’re amongst friends.

Make mine a tweeliter.

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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.

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