For a car that was roundly criticised for looking a little conservative when new, the Renault 18 has aged beautifully. Designed in house and launched at the 1978 Geneva Motor Show, the 18 ensured Renault didn't throw all its eggs into the hatchback basket.
It was Renault's first ‘world car’, hence the marketing strapline of ‘Meeting International Requirements’. As advertising lines go, this isn't up there with ‘Vorsprung Durch Technik’ or ‘The Ultimate Driving Machine’, but it's marginally better than ‘The Very Acceptable Dacia Denem’.
Going back to the styling for a moment, compare and contrast the Renault 18 with other three-box saloons of the day. While the Volkswagen Jetta, Triumph Acclaim, Audi 80 and even the Peugeot 305 look ‘of their time’, the Renault 18 could pass for something much later. It's certainly more late-80s than a car that was designed in a hurry in the late-70s.
What's even more remarkable is that it was largely based on the ageing Renault 12 – a car that dates back to 1969. It's actually earlier than that – work on project 117 began in 1965.
An estate version of the Renault 18 arrived in 1979, followed by the 18 Turbo in 1980, although UK sales of the turbocharged version didn't start until 1981. Some 2.17 million units had been built by the time the last 18 rolled off the Argentinian production line in 1993. The vast majority of cars were built in France.
‘It will need a bit of work’
As is common with so many French cars of the period, it's only the exotic and performance versions that tend to be cherished by collectors. As a result, this early 1.4 TL is PetrolBlog's star of the next Anglia Car Auctions classic sale in June. In fact, it probably deserves a place on the fleet.
As a TL, it represents the Renault 18 at its most basic level. But note how fresh the design looks in 2020. The absence of rain gutters on the roof, a gently sloping nose and neatly finished corners combine to create a smooth and uncluttered look. The chrome bumpers, steel wheels and yellow headlights are the icing on the cake.
The car's previous owner has been in touch via PetrolBlog's Facebook page to say that “it will need a bit of work, but the ultra-low mileage [35,000] is genuine”. He also says that the 18 is “mechanically superb” and he only sold it because he owns three other Renault 18s, an 11 TXE Electronic, two early Clios, a Renault 5 and two early Lagunas.
All of a sudden, PetrolBlog has fleet envy.
Taking it under PetrolBlog's wing would be wrong when other members of the fleet require attention, but this wonderful survivor deserves its place in the limelight. There's no reserve, so you could grab a bargain.
The Anglia Car Auctions sale take place on Saturday 13 June 2020. You can view the lots here. Be warned: there's a very tempting Renault 17 project on offer...
Tip of the hat to Chris Randall on Twitter.