During the 4s, Renault had been building small sports cars for a long time. The small 1063 CV 4 was such a car, which also inspired Jean Redélé to develop the first Alpine. In the run-up to this, the Renault Rédéle had already been a first step, and it also knew the XNUMXCV as fundamentum. The Dauphine 1093 also had a special sound among the fans of sporty small French cars. In 1962 Renault introduced the R8. And this Dauphine successor also came with a sporty variant. And what for one. The angularly designed sedan formed the basis for an illustrious and historic sports version: The Renault 8 Gordini.
In the autumn of 1964 Renault - which by now already had the necessary experience in the sporting field - released the first R8 Gordini. The car actually succeeded the Dauphine 1093 and was only available in the color “Bleu de France”. The name of the color was soon renamed Gordini blue. Like its characteristic predecessor, the Gordini had two stripes on the trunk lid, roof and engine lid. The instrumentation consisted of a tachometer, a speedometer, a water temperature gauge and a brake performance indicator. The meters were housed in a moody gray painted plateau. The windshield was laminated glass, and Renault had fitted fog lamp preparation, including switches. Of course, a sports steering wheel was also installed.
Different cylinder head, solid specifications
The 8 cc engine originally placed in the Renault 1108 Major (the regular R8 had a 956 cc engine) was overhauled by Amédée Gordini. The standard carburettor was replaced by two Solex 40 PHH 2 copies. Furthermore, the sporty Renault branch constructed a different cylinder head, a trick that was already done with the Dauphine 1093, for example. The four disc brakes all around - which were also on standard R8 models - naturally remained on board. The R8 Gordini 1100 was good for 80 DIN HP at a speed of 6.500 rpm and a top speed of 170 kilometers per hour. These were not only good values for a small family sedan, with such figures you looked pretty good in the XNUMXs anyway.
Even more impressive
The 1100 version of the Gordini (internal: R1134) rolled off the production line a total of 2626 times. It turned out to be the harbinger of the even more spicy R8 Gordini variant: the 1300. In 1966 the new version (internally: R1135) debuted at the Paris Salon. He got a 1255 cc engine, which delivered 88 DIN-HP and reached a top of 177 kilometers per hour. In terms of carburetors, the company Solex was second to none with the Gordini 1300, because Renault now applied two Weber 40 DCOE carburetors. Also historic: the Renault 8 Gordini 1300 became the French manufacturer's first car with a five-speed gearbox and rather short ratios.
Recognition and refinement
There was also a difference in appearance between the 1100 version of the Gordini and the Renault 8 Gordini 1300. The more powerful of the two was easy to recognize. The front had double headlights, the outer ones of which were filled with halogen lighting. The French also mounted larger wheels and tires in order to create an even better road holding. This was further improved by the placement of the fuel tank enlarged to 38 liters, as it was moved to the bottom of the luggage compartment in the front. That helped the weight distribution. And the sporty division of Renault also provided extra ventilation openings for the 1300 for better cooling of the brakes. The 1300 Gordini was built almost 9.000 times in total and was therefore a lot more successful than the 1100 variant.
The Gordini achieved several sporting successes with both engine variants. Various French drivers ensured a first place in the Rally of Corsica from 1964 to 1966. The duo Piot-Roure took the title of San Remo in 1967. The Portuguese Albino and Pereira took the first place in their home country with the R8 Gordini, not a bad performance at all. Rallies in Ivory Coast and Poland were also won with an R8 Gordini. For a few years, the sporty Renault was also a regular guest in long-distance races such as the Spa 24 Hours, the Nürburgring 6 Hours, the Kyalami 9 Hours and the Brno 6 Hours.
Especially loved in historical blue
The Renault 8 Gordini is - in 1100 and 1300 trim - still one of the most sought after sporty historic Renaults. The peppery R8 is especially popular in the legendary color "Gordini blue". Really good copies already sold for €50.000 a few years ago. The R8 Gordini made a major contribution to the development of fast small family cars, its performance was almost unparalleled for cars in this class. To this day, Renault sticks to sporty variants of their models. In 1970 the Renault 12 Gordini took over. With that, the Renault 8 Gordini entered history as a particularly fast and powerful sedan. A car that showed what a manufacturer could get out of an everyday smaller car. Renault really pushed boundaries in this class.