Robert Opron designed some of the greatest French cars of the 1970s and 1980s. Actually scrub that, Robert Opron designed some of the greatest cars of all time. Period.
A man could quite easily retire a hero having penned the designs for the Citroën SM and playing a major role in that of the redesigned Citroën DS. He was also responsible for the timeless elegance of Citroën’s less desirable but no less interesting CX and GS. As far as Citroën goes then, it is very much a case of job done, Monsieur Opron.
But Opron also dabbled with a few Renaults in his time and it would be fair to say that the results are not quite as memorable. One such car is the Renault 9, a model which is essentially the saloon version of the once ubiquitous Renault 11 hatchback. So the 9 is therefore a Shatchback which has so far managed to escape the wrath of PetrolBlog. There’s still time of course, especially with a Halloween edition of Shatchbacks coming up.
The Renault 9 is one of the few Shatchbacks to be awarded European Car of the Year status, doing so in 1982. Production lasted until 1989, by which time some 1.1 million cars had rolled off the production line, meaning the saloon outnumbered the 11 hatchback by over 100,000 units. So somebody liked it.
Today though, you’re far more likely to see a well driven Audi than a Renault 9, with many of them spiralling into worthlessness in the 1990s and therefore not making into the new millennium. I didn’t like it when it was new, I certainly didn’t like it as it glided into bangerdom and to be honest, I’d largely forgotten about it.
But then I stumbled across a Renault 9 Turbo in the classifieds. If there was a Renault 9 to have, then surely it would be the Turbo? It had the same engine as the mighty Renault 5 Turbo, meaning it had 115 bhp and could be propelled to an eye-watering 120mph, reaching 60 in a little less than nine seconds.
Of course, by sharing the same engine as the 5 Turbo, it also meant you were likely to be killed by the turbo’s tendency to kick-in mid corner and take you into the nearest hedge, wall, tree or branch of Tandy. Indeed, I’m sure statistics will support my claim that more Renault 9 Turbos were killed in action than by metal disease. Whatever the reason, the sad truth is that the number of 9 Turbos left in existence today barely reaches double figures.
With a brand new MOT and a screen price of £900, surely this Renault 9 Turbo is worth a punt? It has a proven engine and pretty decent handling, so this is an awful lot of 80s car for not a lot of cash. For sure, the interior plastics will creak under the strain of 23 years and 97,000 miles of use, but as a dealer on a test drive once told me to do, you could always just turn the radio up and listen to the Pet Shop Boys.
The Renault 9 Turbo could only have come from the eighties and the boxiness of the design and simple fact that it has survived all this time makes it quite appealing. The ad can be found here.
One guy who will be interested is Glasgow-based petrolhead Simon Ford, or @sf4d74 as he’s better known on Twitter. Although Simon never actually owned a Turbo, he was a proud owner of a 1.4 GTS in 1997. It had a rather dubious sounding two-tone paintwork, green on the top with grey on the bottom and came complete with a red go-faster stripe.
Simon remembers the car with great fondness, praising the car’s good handling, helped by the saloon’s extra weight over the back wheels. Simon claims that the 9 lives in the shadows of the 11 when it comes to aesthetics. I have to say that I disagree in this respect. If you’re going to go for boxiness, then make sure the whole damn thing is boxy! No nasty hatchback curves for me, thank you.
But while the Renault 9 is fast disappearing from UK roads, we’ll always have television adverts such as the one above these to remember it by. So very, very 80s.
If anyone takes the plunge and buys the Renault 9 Turbo featured here, please get in touch. I’ll buy you a pint and a packet of Hobnobs for services to French cars of the 1980s. Salut!