As is becoming the trend for PetrolBlog, my earliest memories of this week’s forgotten hero stem from my childhood. Back in 1980, I believed that the world ended on the south coast of England and that English was the only language spoken.
As such, I wrongly referred to the Renault Fuego as the Renault ‘Few-Go’. For years I lived in blissful ignorance of my mispronunciation, while the motoring world pointed at me and mocked me for my foolishness.
How was I to know that there was a land called Spain, and in this land, the word Fuego translated to fire? But in a sad twist of irony for the Fuego, while I’m now old enough to pronounce the name, there are only a ‘few’ left in the UK today. So it’s less ‘Few-Go’ and ‘Few-Gone’, then?
A quarter of a million of the 2+2 coupes were sold across the world. In the UK, the car was available until 1987 when it was quietly withdrawn from sale. During these seven years, the Fuego competed admirably against the popular Ford Capri and Opel Manta and indeed outsold the competition during early years.
However, it never really sat comfortably with the Renault stable and in a marketplace that was becoming obsessed with the hot hatch, the Fuego was always going to struggle to create a spark. It was the fresh and exciting Golf GTI, Peugeot 205 GTi and indeed the Renault 5 Turbo that set the world on fire.
The Fuego was launched with a mildly simmering 1.4-litre engine and a lukewarm 2.0-litre variant. With 64 and 112bhp respectively, they were hardly going to set pulses rating. Save this accolade for the ‘oh-so-80s’ Turbo edition, launched in 1984.
Forget the 1.6-litre turbocharged engine developing 132 bhp – this wasn’t the element that made it quick. Oh no. It was the huge TURBO decals that emblazoned each side of the Fuego that made it quick. Even Gene Hunt would know not to give chase after a car with TURBO stickers that big.
Sadly, rumours of a Spanish version of Ashes to Ashes are unfounded. I would have loved to have heard Hunt shout “Fire up the Fuego”.
Eagle eyed petrolheads will have spotted that this was yet another PetrolBlog car to feature in a James Bond film. This time in A View to a Kill where two jodhpur wearing French ladies were involved in the death of a hapless Patrick Macnee at the wheel of a Rolls Royce.
Always thought the Fuego looked good in the film, and to be fair, I think it still looks good today. It has a unique shape and stance and the black plastic strip running the entire length of the car is a design success. The yellow driving lights give it an air of continental flair, whilst the glass boot lid complete with a further TURBO sticker added to the overall effect of sportiness.
But unlike the Capri or Manta, should you wake up tomorrow and decide that your life is incomplete without a little Fuego in it, you’ll be hard pressed to find one. The closest car I could find for sale happens to be in Australia and although a trip to Oz would be nice, it seems an awful long way to travel for an 80s Renault.
So another common sight on our roads, now seemingly relegated to the archives. If you’ve got one – get in touch. In the meantime, here are two more ‘classic’ ads from the 80s. Check out the second ad where you’re invited to enter ‘The Turbo Zone’. You might be tempted until you see the excessive amount of blue smoke pouring from the back of the car. Dodgy valve seals perhaps?