Road To Rally:</br>High Five To The Maxi
Where it all began

I’m going to be quite selfish with this feature, so I hope you feel like you can indulge me. Or maybe just come along for the ride and see what happens, eh? When it came to concluding our roots in rallying theme, we needed to fill the mug right up with automotive nirvana. A piece of metal and passion that summed up what we’ve been talking about, whilst being something you can relate to. Because that’s half the battle sometimes right? It’s all very well seeing a million dollar piece of hardware that has about 10% of a production car profile and 90% unobtanium parts, but aside from being wowed by it, the chasm between our daily existence and that exalted world of engineering is too large to span. And cars are all about relationships, interaction and the commitment they bring out in the human spirit. Which is why we’re wrapping things up with a Renault 5, and a very special one at that.

Henrik Renault 5 Turbo 2 Gatebil-1-2

So why does that make me selfish? Because the Renault 5 is especially close to my heart. I passed my driving test in one, my sister had one and both my parents drove Five Turbos in the early to mid-90s. Why? I have no idea. There was no particular brand allegiance and none of us ever owned another Renault, even though my family have had strong links to France for decades.

Henrik Renault 5 Turbo 2 Gatebil-21

So I guess there’s just something special about them for me. Maybe you can relate to that? It might not be a Renault, but somewhere in your history there will be a car that just ticks a lot of boxes in the memory. This makes it all the more special as I stand back and take in the shape with the owner Henrik Thorstensen, because he feels the same, but for different reasons.

Henrik Renault 5 Turbo 2 Gatebil-8

Henrik has always had a thing for the legendary Group B cars and I almost feel sorry for anybody who wasn’t alive when the most utterly mental rally cars to ever exist were flying around the globe. Along with the cars like the Audi S1, the Renault 5 Maxi was meant to link the road cars to rallying; winning meant sales supposedly.

Henrik Renault 5 Turbo 2 Gatebil-12

Now I know I said back near the start that the gulf between modern race cars and their road going kin is so wide it’s hard to relate between the two and I’d understand if you felt the same way about this Renault. I mean come on Bryn, the engine isn’t even where it was on the road car. The standard bodywork is all but lost beneath that arched and winged exterior; it’s just like a modern rally car in terms of shared parts, surely?

Henrik Renault 5 Turbo 2 Gatebil-22

Well yes, and of course I do accept I’m now having a hypothetical discussion with myself but again I did say this article was going to be a little selfish. I would counter that with the age this Renault was born in: computer usage was still in its infancy when it came to car design. This five appeared in 1985 which is nearly thirty years ago, so underneath all the added body parts and relocated drivetrain, there is clearly still a little grocery getter that was diverted off the production line and injected with mechanical steroids. So this isn’t some sort of supermodel that exists on an ethereal plain, tempting and teasing from an unattainable height. No, this is your next door neighbour who went out one day and came back a superstar.

Henrik Renault 5 Turbo 2 Gatebil-2

The thin pillars haven’t got a roll cage tied into them and there’s no feeling of being insulated from the basic feeling of the original car. Which is what appeals to me so much: this is a road going race car for me, not a world class driver who competes at the highest levels.

Henrik Renault 5 Turbo 2 Gatebil-20

It’s still very much a hero car though: the ‘want’ levels are running high right now. Henrik has had an incredible line-up of cars over the years, featuring some really special Fords, so he could have gone for something like the RS200, but when he saw the Renault for sale, he had to have it. Still digging on the car now…

They did what???
Henrik Renault 5 Turbo 2 Gatebil-32

So what’s the big idea here then? Well when Renault wanted to go rallying in 1980 they decided it would be best to base those efforts around the Renault 5. They had other models, but looking back, I can see that like the Golf did for VW, the Five served as the everyman car in the range. Unlike the Golf, Renault did one major thing that still makes me smile to this day, and was followed by Peugeot later in the 80s with their 205 T16.

Henrik Renault 5 Turbo 2 Gatebil-27

They moved the engine from the front to the back. There was already a turbo model in the range, but to help with the physics of handling and traction it was deemed worthwhile that the 1397cc engine was put where you’d usually find a rear seat. There are multiple reasons why we’re featuring Henrik’s Five, but one of the major ones is that it’s a 1985 homologation model for the Maxi 5 Turbo, the ultimate rally incarnation. Although just over 3500 Turbo 2s were built in France between 1980-4 there were just 200 of this final fling, so this engine has the enlarged capacity of 1430cc which produces 210hp.  Although as Henrik says, it’s the French so who knows the true capacity?

Henrik Renault 5 turbo 2-1

Because yes, I did just say 1430cc. So it must be slow right? I mean come on, why is the engine that small? Well first up the engine had to be based loosely on a road-going model. Another thing you need to remember about this time in history is that anything over 100hp in a road car was actually quite impressive; Henrik saying that the Five has the same sort of pace as a BMW 3.2ltr M3 up to higher speeds. But it’s the engine shift from front to mid that means the Renault can hustle so well.

Henrik Renault 5 Turbo 2 Gatebil-33

Look under the bonnet and there’s nothing really to see – no fancy trim package. Just a front-mounted radiator and the brake servo as you’d find if the engine was still there. Usually you’d also find a spare wheel here, mounted horizontally behind the steering rack line. Take a look at that moulding that surrounds the radiator though.

Henrik Renault 5 Turbo 2 Gatebil-7

It’s needed because with that bank of lights on the front there’s been some clever packaging added to enable air to flow through in such volumes to enable cooling. The air is ejected through the bonnet after being used.

Henrik Renault 5 Turbo 2 Gatebil-13

With air being fed to the rear by way of side intakes, again it all feels very analogue. You need air? Let’s cut a hole, hand formed and thought about. Sure there will have been wind tunnel testing but again it was analysed by eye, backed up by computer.

Henrik Renault 5 Turbo 2 Gatebil-4

There’s a lot of aero going on here as well; the bodykit adds more drama to the rear wing supports, with a cut out allowing air to wrap round the C pillar. Once again the standard shape is visible with the additions feeling exactly that instead of an entirely new panel like say the arches.

Henrik Renault 5 Turbo 2 Gatebil-24

Scoops and vents dominate the exterior thanks to the Maxi kit; this was designed for use in rallying.

Henrik Renault 5 Turbo 2 Gatebil-25

The sometimes wild styling all has a purpose.

It’s a road car, honest…
Henrik Renault 5 Turbo 2 Gatebil-18

Okay so I shot the Turbo 2 on a track and yes you’ve probably recognised it as the distinctive location of Rudskogen. Henrik has been involved with the Gatebil team for many years and some of his previous cars will probably ring some bells if you follow the scene. His Mk2 Escort fitted with a 650hp/750Nm Cosworth YB engine was pretty distinctive; the Ford GT40 replica with a 700hp Nascar spec V8 was impressive too.

Henrik Renault 5 Turbo 2 Gatebil-17

So the Renault sees track action as well as road miles, which is what it does so well. Being a manufacturer’s road legal race car, it’s a great mix of disciplines, again another justification for finalising our rally roots theme.

Henrik Renault 5 Turbo 2 Gatebil-14

Once again there’s more to this particular example though: the roof is made from aluminium which along with the aforementioned engine displacement is another indicator of its Maxi 5 designation. The 200 road cars which served this homologation can all be identified by a VIN beginning with 8221.

Henrik Renault 5 Turbo 2 Gatebil-5

Inside it all feels far more normal, with a standard Renault dash pod in place and the simple three spoke wheel showing its motorsport intentions to the driver.

Henrik Renault 5 Turbo 2 Gatebil-29

Even the boost gauge appears subtle; no wild claims or numbers, flashing lights or warning.

Henrik Renault 5 Turbo 2 Gatebil-30

Like I say, it’s all very Renault 5 in here, although I can’t remember the speedo on my old car registering over 220kph.

Henrik Renault 5 Turbo 2 Gatebil-31

Look closer and the clues are here though: for a start the doors are cut down over a standard car. There are other changes too: when the original owner ordered the Five in Germany back at the end of 1984 for an early 1985 delivery time, the seats were changed to those from a Turbo 1 as they didn’t like the Turbo 2 design. The other change is a longer fifth gear, which means better cruising revs for longer journeys, or longer legs on the Autobahn…

Henrik Renault 5 Turbo 2 Gatebil-3

One other change over stock and one of my favourite parts of the car are the wheels. I’ve always loved the intricate Gotti designs and they now command big bucks.

Henrik Renault 5 Turbo 2 Gatebil-23

The three-piece split rims measure 7×15 at the front and a dish-inducing 10×15 at the back. They almost give an aftermarket feeling to the Five if the overall impact wasn’t so recognisably factory.

Henrik Renault 5 Turbo 2 Gatebil-1

Henrik isn’t sure right now what the future holds. Although he uses the Turbo 2 whenever he can, it’s still a prized possession and as such needs to be protected to an extent. With his car history, this means that right now he can’t indulge in a little ‘breisladd’ (drifting) and that needs to be addressed. Although it would be nice to keep it in a safe corner somewhere, unfortunately the wallet won’t allow it if he wants something else extreme to play with.

Henrik Renault 5 Turbo 2 Gatebil-26

So the Five may well go. Henrik has kicked it around the track and enjoyed it on the road. It’s also been used in the making of a Norwegian film entitled Børning that will be out in 2014, so he’s had his fun alright. Another thing Henrik is rightly proud of is that recently the magazine Autofil ranked it fourth in Norway’s top 10 street cars (Gatebil means street car). Having been to Gatebil and seen the cars there, that’s no mean feat and a pretty high accolade.

Henrik Renault 5 Turbo 2 Gatebil-15

So hopefully by now you agree with me that this rather special homologation model should round up our rally roots theme. It’s been a trip down memory lane for me; I got that teenage buzz again, wondering what it would be like to live with a legend, but just like the prize fighter that still drinks in the bar down the road. The Renault Five Turbo is the road-going special that you can relate to, which is a bit like rallying itself I guess. Working man’s hero? Status achieved.



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I've only seen one in person and was really taken back by these little creatures.  I'm sure it would be fun to rip around.


They are such an interesting car and Henrik's is a pristine example. I'm also taking all of the credit for making it shiny for the photographs.


For the 5 Turbos, the engine was a 1397 cc in the Turbo 1 and Turbo 2 Cevennes and Tour de Corse, then in the Maxi it was a 1,527cm3 and in the 5 Turbo Production (for racetrack) a 1419 cc. I own myself a Renault 5 Alpine Turbo.


That headlight cluster though. SICK


aaaaahhhhhhhh those rear tyres are so good


a timemachina please!!!bring back the good old time


hands down,this and clio v6 is the best hatch

boosted un busted

teamsleepnine hmmm don't know a bought that, sure the 5 turbo is 100% cool but the Clio v6 never really did it for me plus I vaguely remember the test drive revues being  a bit poor? please correct me on that if I'm wrong. the best hot hatch for me? well I'm totally bias to the nova GTE ok not in the same league at a mid engine v6 Clio but mega cool. Or as I own a mk4 RS turbo Escort possibly that, it not a 100% cool car more love hate mess......

boosted un busted

possibly the most hard core word in motoring homologation. Race car for the road i.e. metro 6R4, Audi S1, ford RS200 I can't understand why people with serious money buy porches 911s you now that sort of look at me motor. yes there really cool fast and reliable but not a homologation special with more kudos than it can handle. I'm probably being over simple (I'm still bit hung over) but race car for the road will always beat sports car in top trumps.


So that's it for the rally theme!? Damn, that was the best theme on Speedhunters ever... So refreshing from the stance-garbage.
But that Renault is epic!


saw one in farnham for sale once, wanted a maxi ever since. I have a bit of history with Renault fives (taken home  from hospital in one, grandad had a GTT etc)  however they have always been my dirty motoring secret, I'm glad this post has given me the courage to come out as Liking all the Renault fives, especially the maxi and the Raider blue gtt. such mental little cars.


Subaru & Mitsubishi tried very hard to give ACTUAL rally cars to enthusiasts. Unfortunately, Ford, Peugeot & Citroen forced rules changes, turning WRC into NASCAR, with fake kit cars built by small racing firms. True rally fans have Subaru and/or DSM in their driveway, even those cheering for Loeb.


I drove behind one of these for a short while on my way home from school one day, awesome car!


So pretty...
As I have no prior Renault 5 Turbo wallpapers, my Monday (and possibly my whole week) has been made.


I got to see the later version at a recent car show over in the UK, ust awesome, pics here-


eefyVery nice, but different Group B rally car


A red Turbo 2 made an appearance in the 80's James Bond movie Never Say Never Again. I remember a friend of my older brother had a pearl white Turbo 2. We went to the L.A. auto show back in 1985 or 86 and I had to sit on my brother's lap in the passenger seat as a kid since there were no back seats. I always remember looking out the side mirror and just seeing this massive sill of the top of the rear box fender. That memory will never fade.