During my Peugeot 404 era, I desperately wanted one of these; a true automotive boulevardier, just the ticket for cruising Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. CC Cohort kurtzos found this Pininfarina-designed 404 Cabriolet somewhere in Spain, along with a few other French (and non-French) delicacies.
In America, the Renault R5 has become another laughingstock (mostly). In Europe, it attained cult status long ago, thanks to a number of appealing qualities and the fact that it was made for so long, in so many variants. This is an Alpine Turbo; not the legendary and wild Renault 5 Turbo with its wild rear-seat mounted high-boost engine and giant rear wheels. The Alpine Turbo (called Gordini in the UK) made 110 hp from its 1.4 L engine, and was a one of the famous “hot hatches” or “superminis” of the early eighties. Sadly it never made it to the US.
Strictly speaking, the five door version of the US-bound Le Car was available in its last year or two, but they were very rare. For that matter, I’ve yet to find an R5 in the field. I know eventually I’ll find one.
Here’s the R10 that so valiantly tried to keep the brand going in the US during the Beetle’s heyday. One of these days, I promise a full history of Renault in the US.
And an R12 too. I know that all things Renault have a crappy rep in the US; partly well deserved, but also partly because they were misunderstood by their owners and mechanics. But Renaults have brought so much color to the automotive scene over the decades. Having never owned one, it’s easy for me to praise their quirky charms, right? What about that hot R8 Gordini next to it? No photos, sadly.
We’ll leave sunny Spain with this homely Citroen Dyane 6, an effort to “update” the 2CV in a more modern suit. Good luck with that.
I cannot count the times that I have been looking into a particular car and the very next day Paul will post the same car! Michelle and I were just talking about the unlikely existence of the 404 Cabrio and I had just seen the same picture of the Dyane yesterday on our Flikr pool.
Didn’t Detective Columbo own a Peugeot 404 convertible?
Columbo’s was a 403 …
I owned a nice R5 back in around ’81 and enjoyed it a lot. It was U.S. spec but had been purchased by a Frenchman who drove it across the country for sightseeing and then sold it with about 3K on the clock. As such it had escaped the port-side application of “Le Car” badges, and I later replaced the standard Renault 5 badge on the back with an Renault 5 Gordini one imported from England to further confuse onlookers …
At the time I was suffering from back problems and appreciated it when a car had a smooth ride. The 5 rode almost as smoothly as my mom’s Peugeot 504.
It was trouble-free during the time I had it and I only sold it because of moving to the U.K. (where I was to own a Citroen 2CV and later a Renault 4, but that’s another story).
I always wanted the five-door instead of a two-door, but as Paul notes, these were only imported at the end and were always a rare sight. I’ll never forget seeing one just like I wanted — in gold, with the roll-back sunroof (not fitted to my 5) — occupied by four nuns in full regalia!
Yup, a 1960-ish 403. (Just watched a bunch of Columbo episodes…)
Did you check the rocker panels on that R5 upon purchase from the Frenchman? Sorry, just completed ‘the French Connection’ and your story simply hit home! 🙂
Yes, please do the Renault history. Or, at least histories of my favorite two models, the R10 (aka, the Dauphine finally got pretty and learned how to hold off rust for a couple of months) and the Renault 5 (Le Car, I wanted to own one badly, but the one I test drove caught fire five miles from the dealership).
Screw this Fiat/Chrysler stuff. What I really want to see if Renault come back to the US. While watching a stage of the Tour de Catalunya yesterday on British Eurosport, I was thrilled to watch a commercial for the Megane with Bowie’s “Heroes” as the soundtrack.
You want to see a Renault return and I’m dying for a Citroen return to these shores. Having traveled to both South America and Europe I fell in love with Citroen’s hot and sexy hatches. the C3, c5 are sweet little cars with some nods to their rallying heritage.
In 1966-68 when my parents lived in a suburb of Paris, I lusted after the R8 Gordini. My father owned a Simca 1000 which I used to commute into Paris for language lessons at the Alliance Francais and effing around at night in Paris.
The R8s were much faster than my 1000, but with judicious timing, I could beat them to the next light (or second light) by simply not having to stop for the next red light. The Simca was that slow.
I’d love to have an R8 today.
I still want an R5 if only in my MM dreams for a build. It’s really a shame that we didn’t get a hot hatch version here.
Let’s talk about owning a Renault…
I had 3 R5s. The third was a parts car, the second was bought on the cheap when the first one needed time-consuming work, and the first was my daily driver for years, picked up when a much-loathed Ford Grenada finally did me the favor of blowing the head gasket. My ex took that first one when we split, and promptly traded it (with its lovely Martini edition Momo steering wheel) in on a Tercel (never forgiven her for that).
The “time consuming” work that the first one needed was a starter replacement. Eventually, banging on it with a breaker bar didn’t do the trick any more, and I had to swap it out. It’s buried deep on the bottom rear of the motor – passenger side. To get to it, you have three options: Pull the passenger side front suspension, pull the manifolds off, or pull the whole motor/transaxle out. I opted for “pull the manifolds”. Most of the mainfold nuts came off easily. There was one that was shrouded by the carb. The only way to have it off was to pull the carb off first. The carb is held on by four conventional studs. Three of them were easily accessible. The fourth was blocked by a combination of the intruding fenderwell… and the manifold. That’s right. In order to pull the manifold, you need to have the carb off, and in order to pull the carb, you need to have the manifold off…
I ended up spending the better part of two hours with an open-end wrench. Half a flat, flip it over. Half a flat, flip it over… And of course, since the stud was rusty and dirty, I couldn’t just spin off the nut once it was free. I had to push it off with the wrench the full length of the exposed threads.
Once I got the starter out, I discovered that my used donor didn’t match, even though it was from another R5 only two years newer. I managed to modifiy it to work, but I don’t remember what the issue was any more.
I desperately want another one.
Doesn’t sound too much worse than what I went through in my love affair with Omni GLH-Ts. Almost anything involved with a turbo L body includes Step 1. Remove cylinder head, intake and exhaust manifold/turbo as an assembly. It took almost 6 hours to install a 3″ downpipe once..
I’m a very tolerant person when it comes to small cars. Especially if they can be made to go faster than they were ever designed to.
Just to make you feel worse, I have all three of my Momo steering wheels on the wall in my garage.
My first Momo was an Abarth that I personally picked up from Fisher in Long Island City, NY in 1972.
My second Momo was a Jackie Stewart that I bought for my ’78 Rabbit. The third was one that I put on my wife’s 1990 Dodge Caravan. That wheel was later transferred to my son’s ’88 Olds 98.
I hate airbags.
You really have to love the internet. This took me about 15 seconds to find…
The 5-door version you show is actually from the last restyiling Renaul put on the 5, named “Supercinq” before it was put off to sleep and substituted by the Clio
no, that yellow one is not a “supercinq”. its definitively pre ’84.
I saw a four-door Le Car at a repair shop in town a couple months ago. It was silver with black ‘Le Car’ striping and looked to be in very nice shape. I intended to get pictures but it disappeared before I got around to it. Super rare, especially here in IL!
To be fair you’re technically considered Iowa. 😀
It seems like every car I’ve plucked from your area is obscenely clean. Even Grand Waggies that typically rot out after exposure to high humidity.. A pristine LeCar 5 door doesn’t surprise me.
Actually I’m in Rock Island, IL – Iowa’s just across the Mississippi though!
I was playing on the whole Chicagoan idea that there’s nothing in Illinois but Chicago..
I like Rock Island, the Arsenal GC is fantastic. I’m planning a stop there on my way to the Trucker’s Jamboree at the I80 Truck Stop this year.
Ah, I get it. I have a friend who used to live in Springfield who said the governor was never in the capitol unless he was flying over it.
My folks were members of the Arsenal Golf Club until it became a public course a year or two ago. When I was in college I’d go down and hit a bucket of balls to decompress. My favorite hole was the 3rd or 4th, where the river’s at your back and you’re on a small hill overlooking the whole fairway. Very neat place.
Illinois has its own “Mason-Dixon” line: I-80.
You’re not too far away, Tom – we’re near Peoria, actually just a few miles from the old Rock Island RR (now a walking/bike path).
My brother got his ’01 Dakota at Sam Leman Dodge City back in August of 2001 – still has it too!
I’ve seen a 404 cabrio at a local show a couple of times that the owner imported from France, but before doing so used it to travel around the country – he was actually abused (mildly) for taking such a rare car in Parisian traffic. I can see the point, body panels must be unobtainable these days.
can’t explain it but i really really want a dyane.
saw a pristine 404 cabrio at techno classica yesterday. the sticker said € 69.000,-.
the “superluxe” tag on the trunk made even more sense to me, then.