Cohort Pic(k) of the Day: Renault Fuego Turbo – Welcome To The Turbo Zone

The Fuego has become almost mythical in the US. It seems to typify all of the issues that plagued Renault in its final years in the US: attractive if quirky designs that didn’t stand up to the (brutal) test of time that typical American buyers subjected their cars to. Sold in the US between 1982 and 1985, they went up against the Japanese coupes like the Celica that were built more like a Toyota Hilux pickup, and simply wilted in the face of them.

I’ve been hoping to find one for years, but no luck so far. But the Fuego had a somewhat different image in Europe, and was quite  successful, becoming the number one selling sports coupe for several years (1980-1982). Monsieur Burns shot this fine example in its home country of France, where it undoubtedly enjoyed a different fate.

The Fuego was based on the R18 platform, with front suspension components borrowed from the larger R20/30. It has several bragging rights, one of them being its very slippery body, with a Cd as low as 0.32, very impressive for the time (1979). With a turbo-diesel, it was the world’s fastets diesel production car in 1982, with a top speed of 180km/h (110 mph). It also had the first remote keyless system with central locking, based on the invention of Paul Lipschultz (PLIP system).

This pristine example does seem to be missing its grille.


The Fuego arrived in the US in 1982, in both conventional and then also as a turbo model. The naturally-aspirated 1647 cc SOHC four made 81 hp; the 1566 cc turbo version cranked out a mighty 107 hp.


The Fuego’s advertising invited one to enter “the turbo zone” and share the same technology that made Renault’s F1 turbocharged racers so renowned at the time. Needless to say, not enough buyers took up the invitation, and by its third and final year, Fuegos had a lot of cash on their hoods to clear out the AMC dealer lots. Good luck finding one today.