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Renaults world wonder: The Renault Espace 1 (1984-1991)

Renault Espace
ER Classics Desktop 2022

The Renault Espace was the start of a completely new European car type, the MPVs. The model was launched in 1984 Renault proved that practicality could also be comfortable. And that his bodywork consisted of plastic panels that were mounted on the galvanized body? That was new too.

What a space!

Because: anyone who thought practical - outside the Randstad - would prefer a spacious, comfortable car. In 1988 the Randstad was not that full. However, spacious cars were often based on the lightest commercial vehicles. And there it went wrong with the comfort. The Renault Espace offered space and comfort. And that with the performance of the better middle class.


The Renault Espace was developed together with Matra by the British designer Fergus Pollock as the successor to the Matra Rancho. After that a kind of hop jump followed with Chrysler and Peugeot as supporting characters. Matra signed a cooperation agreement with Renault in 1982. The prototype P18 was created based on the Renault 23, from which the Renault Espace was developed, the first European MPV. Renault rationalized the design, took care of marketing and sales, and supplied the powertrain. Matra was responsible for production

In its time, the Renault Espace actually had no real competition

The Mitsubishi Spacewagon and the Nissan Prairie were no more than approaches to the idea. And for many Europeans at the time, the Chrysler Voyager was simply "too American."

In its early days, the unique character of this revolutionary Renault was also widely recognized by the press. But in practice, several car journalists found a few things that they had reservations about. Thus the rear door could not be opened from the inside. And the heating was a bit under-sized in the then still harsh winters.

But the interior space of the Renault Espace measuring only 425 cm was phenomenal. There was no doubt about that. In the standard version, the car was delivered with five seats. Two extra seats were optional. But also with seven people loaded the Renault was a great travel companion.

The entry at the Renault Espace was fantastic

The passengers simply 'slide in'. This results in a sitting height that at the time demanded some habituation because of its height. But the additional traffic overview that gave the seating position was appreciated.

The seats behind the front two seats were mounted on a completely flat floor where the remaining furniture could be mounted. Incidentally, mounting was not optimal, because if a bolt ended up in the wrong mounting hole, it was quite a hassle to get it out again.

And what was seen as a nuisance was that the rear seats could not be 'turned'. The front seats could, they had a 'conference position'. In that position, the fifth chair became a table. Smart! We ourselves once missed the opportunity to turn the rear seats when we had to take pictures of a classic engine driving behind us from a Renault Espace. But we know for sure that there have also been fishermen who missed this opportunity during a rain shower.

To 'pimp' the Renault Espace, Renault presented the 'Boutique Brochure' with suitcases, bags and ... beds. The ordinary option list contained things such as sunroofs (two!), Nozzles on the headlights, alloy wheels and roof rails.

In the meantime, the early Renault Espace with their galvanized chassis structure and their plastic body parts are sought after - and highly usable - classics.

When the press photos were black and white
And a little later

7 Comments

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  1. This car was definitely not the first MPV; our Fiat 600 Multipla from 1964 already has 6 seats and is more spacious in relation to the Espace.

  2. My family and I have driven 28 with great pleasure for years and our Espace TSE from 1986. In contrast, with what is stated, placing and removing the individual seats was very easy. There is no bolt involved. Super handy car with lots of space. The rear seats 6 and 7 did have limited legroom.

    • I still drive with an Espace from 1985. Model 1 phase1 And ​​happy too !!!
      But now I have a huge problem. Yesterday at the MOT, the car turned out to be TOP again. Approved, therefore. But to cancel this I had to show the number hit in the chassis. Because the judge couldn't find that. Search all afternoon. Eest with the judge, but he had to do even more. I continue. This issue is not new. I have certainly had this 5 a 6 times. Once even that the Kurder passed on a number and that turned out not to be correct. Let stand, re-inspection with someone from the RDW there. He looked his eyes out, due to the condition and quality of the car. We have been searching with 4 persons for a varied 3 hour.
      Registration certificate states “R. Bulkhead under the hood. ” And there we found it too.
      But now I am looking for a lamp under the hood again, I have forgotten where exactly and my car is old, but now I am too. My eyes are not like that anymore, and I have a stiff leg with heaps of hardware. Cannot stand searching for long, etc.

      Is there anyone in the world who recognizes this problem and who knows who has a photo.
      Or can say very precisely, there!
      Renault Netherlands is absolutely not interested in my problems and actually never received professional support if I had questions about my old car that works perfectly.

  3. Matra had originally designed the car on a Peugeot basis, but they did not see it in part because they were in financial difficulties. Only after rejection by Peugeot did Renault come into the picture that fortunately saw something in it.

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