Renault 15 and Renault 17. Beautiful seventies coupés from Sandouville

ER Classics Desktop 2022

You are used to it from us. Every year we focus on a number of cars that celebrate an anniversary. Today you can read the story about the Renault 15 and the Renault 17. It is no coincidence that the French team was chosen from the interesting list of newcomers from 1971. The combination R15 / R17 debuted simultaneously and came second in the Car of the Year election, behind the Fiat 127 and before the Mercedes-Benz 350 SL (R107). A story about two extravagant and beautiful French coupés.

During the early 1450s it was a trend: building a coupe and a coach / sedan from one platform. More specifically, Project XNUMX spawned the Opel Manta A and the Opel Ascona A. The first Celica and the first Carina also shared a lot, including the same platform. Toyota also had a first with this respectable two-unit. Toyota expert Ron Moës recently said the following about this: "Toyota was the first manufacturer in the world to build two different models together on one production line, which meant a first and a breakthrough in production technology."

Conventional and extravagant

In 1971, Renault surprised by presenting not one, but two coupés with a self-supporting body on the basis of the Renault 12. The French launch the R15 and R17. The coupés (internal R13) developed under the supervision of Gaston Juchet have a striking and striking design, which offers a lot of design freedom. The height of 131 centimeters contributes to the dynamic appearance of the coupés, as do the angled rear and the angled windscreen. The coupés are equipped with a third door with a deep-set rear window. The R15 is the more conventional brother of the two, the R17 is the extravagant variant. Both stand out because of a number of features. Examples are the four separate instruments placed under a hood, the steering wheel with two recessed spokes, the chrome top of the front section and the polyester rear bumper. The latter application is a first.

External distinction

Cosmetically, the R17 differs from the R15 by the use of a wide C-pillar, louvres and small rear side windows. Unlike the R17, the R15 does not have a B-pillar. As a result, the R17 also has a hardtop character. The front of the R17 has double headlights, the tailgate is partly painted black, unlike that of the R15. Moreover, these are the first Renaults to get a different logo. This is reflected in the housing of the set of spare bulbs, because the box has the shape of Renault's new logo.

Different equipment levels, faster engines

The R15 is available as TL (1.289 cc Cleon Fonte engine from the R12, with double Weber carburettor, higher compression and 60 DIN-HP) and the rather luxurious TS (Cleon-Alu 1.565 cc engine from the R16, with double carburettor, higher compression and 90 DIN-HP). That the R17 is higher in the tree is evident from the motorization. The TL gets the 1.565 cc engine from the 15 TS and also takes over the specifications. The luxury TS gets the 1.565 cc with Bosch D-Jetronic (108 DIN-PK) and five gears. With this engine it is good for a top speed of 172 km / h. The 17 TS is the only one from the first R15 / R17 series (which runs until the spring of 1976) never available with an automatic transmission. This option also expires from 1975 for the 15 TS.

Excellent brake installation

The 17 TS has ventilated discs at the front and solid discs at the rear. The rest of the 15/17 series does it with discs at the front and drums at the rear. All R15 and R17 versions have a separate braking system, power brakes and a brake force distributor. The chassis with independent suspension at the front and a live axle with coil springs at the rear is taken from the R12, as is the front-wheel drive.

Decouvrable and Gordini

Just like the 17 TL, the 17 TS is available with an electrically operated folding roof in combination with a detachable semi-hard top. The guide rails of the roof are then reinforced. This is done to guarantee the necessary stiffness of the bodywork. When the buyer orders the R17 in combination with this option, the model name is added Decouvrable of hard top. The 17 TS welcomes the 1974 cc injection engine for model year 1.605. From model year 1975 it is called Gordini. That version gets a slightly larger stabilizer at the front. That is the only technical difference from the 17 TS. Remarkable: both the 1.565 cc injection engine and the 1.605 cc with injection deliver their maximum torque at 5.500 rpm. The 1.565 cc carburettor engine from the 15 TS and 17 TL already does that at 3.000 rpm.

Facelift and program rearrangement

From the spring of 1976, Renault rationalized the coupé series. The R15 and R17 will have a different front, a tailgate with a flat window, a more conventional dashboard and a different steering wheel. The new furniture catches the eye. The front seats with integrated headrests, flexible cheeks and extended seats are comfortable and special. Incidentally, the 15 TL does not get these seats. The entry-level model is also the only R15 / R17 version that does not get a rear spoiler. The new and more luxurious 15 GTL, for example, does have these things. The 15 GTL is also available with an automatic transmission, unlike the TL. The 15 GTL also replaces the 15 TS. With the retirement of the 15 TS, the 1.565 cc engine also disappears from the range of the Renault 15. The GTL gets the 1.289 cc engine with 60 DIN-HP, which is also included in the 1971 TL from 15.

1976. The 17 TS returns

Within the R17 range, the TL is clearing the field. He gives way to lost son 17 TS. This now gets the smooth 1.647 cc Cleon-Alu engine with double carburettor from the Renault 16 TX. In addition, Renault supplies the 17 TS with the découvrable application as standard in most countries. And this 17 TS - unlike the earlier version - can be ordered with an automatic transmission. Renault continues the 17 Gordini. It remains in the range until model year 1978 and distinguishes itself technically from the new 17 TS. The Gordini retains the 1.605 cc engine with electronic injection. The Gordini thus remains the fastest R17 with a top speed of 180 km / h. The TS is good for a top speed of 170 km / h. Compared to the historic 17 TS and the then current Gordini, it has a relaxed character, also because of the 16 TX engine. Speaking of the engines: the 1.289 cc in the 15 TL and 15 GTL has a cast iron block (Cléon-Fonte). The other R15 and R17 variants always have a block made of aluminum (Cléon-Alu) from the debut to the end of production.

Built over 300.000 times

The R15 / R17 series will be built up to 1979 at Chausson in Sandouville. The Renault 300.000 leaves the assembly line 15 times, the Renault 209.887 does that almost 17 times. The French coupé combination is not only sold in a number of European countries, but also in North America and Australia. In Italy the R95.000 is called R17, disciassette is an unlucky number in de Laars. In June 1979 it was over with the typical and beautiful seventies coupés from Renault, which were succeeded by the Fuego for the eighties.




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  1. I had a fake Gordini version with widened wheel arches and 4 Simca Ralley seats. Then happiness was very common…

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  2. Drove an orange 1978 TS with a plastic rear window spoiler from 1979 to 15.
    At that time a car with electric windows and doors without pillars was a beautiful coupe that I had a lot of fun with. Proud as a monkey with …… ..
    The rust sample did its job, especially the prescriptions on top behind the headlights. Plug with plates, polyester filler and half a year later more rust.
    Furthermore, only good memories of 15 TS especially

  3. Good memories resurface. A green 15 TL was my proud possession. Not the most attractive color but I was too rich. The harmonica part of the exhaust gave up the ghost. Repair was costly. Trade in on a bright orange Peugeot 504 was a good option. Also a wonderful car, but sometimes you do things you regret. The image of the 15 now adorns my desktop.

  4. Wonderful, had an orange 17, wonderful car, eventually died from the corrosion sample, after a somewhat unpleasant landing after a bridge, it went through the struts on its nose

  5. Very beautiful cars from the time when Renault still had an identity ... Now, for years, no coupé or sports model, genre Gordini or Williams has been added to the range ...
    Unfortunately never seen the R 15/17 in the wild ...

  6. Beautifully lined coupés from the time when each brand was still clearly distinguishable. Have an R15 TL phase 1 with the forbidden Kent Renault signs on it. Hopefully back on track with it this year. 60hp full of joy, sometimes it doesn't have to be more

  7. Fun and affordable sports cars. Who do not have to rely on “practically too much horsepower and red logos” but a coupe line that (to me) still appeals 50 years later. And who does not remember those cool sports seats. And the cheerful colors. A gentleman / lady in traffic.

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