Racing Heritage: 1978 Renault 17 Gordini

1978-renault-gordini

Gordini is to Renault what Abarth is to Fiat. Gordini was a sports car builder who helped Renault with their race cars in the sixties. Renault later purchased the company and used the name on their high-performance offerings. When you think of the word Gordini, we bet you picture a blue and white Renault 8, but many models wore that prestigious badge. This 1978 Renault 17 is one of them and although it had already been strangled by emissions requirements, it was still a respectable performer in its day. Find it here on eBay where the seller is asking $3,300 or best offer. Thanks goes to Jim s. for the tip!

1978-renault-gordini-engine

The founder of Gordini did not have a hand in the development of this one, but Renualt tried to stay true to what he had started by cramming a larger engine under the hood, connecting it to a five-speed gearbox, and tuning the suspension. Renault even built a hopped-up version of the 17 to compete in rally events with some success.

1978-renault-gordini-interior

This Gordini needs help. It did live in California before moving to Michigan so we are hopeful that the rust is just on the surface. The engine does not currently run, but isn’t seized up either. Finding interior bits may be the biggest challenge as there are not many 17s left in the States.

1978-renault-gordini-rear

The seller has a restored one for sale too so you can see what this one could look like after spending thousands. Values may go up in the future, but for as for now these are not high-dollar collectibles so we would be tempted to just go through the drivetrain and leave the rest alone.

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Comments

  1. Don Andreina

    These are a really nice looking car. A bit like a Renault version of the Alfa GTV in body shape. I think the 15 was better looking, but it wasn’t the sports variant. De-bumperise it so you get that loop bumper at the front and neat rear kick up. Don’t know about its asking price, but someone should find this appealing.

  2. Bill

    The French may have great designers, but they often produced unreliable, ummm, stuff and still do.

  3. Dolphin Member

    I can understand that there’s a niche for the Gordini versions, and I respect that, but for me there just aren’t enough hoses and wires in the engine bay.

  4. Mark E

    Had an R15 which is virtually identical to the R17 except for the removable roof panel and the gordini engine. Cool styling but be prepared to work on these AT LEAST once every week or two. Things LITERALLY kept going wrong that often with it! Also, someone asked about performance? Well, if you look in the first pic you can see that the wheels each have only three lug nuts…I’ll just be polite and say they don’t need more than that for their particular performance characteristics.

  5. CraigSu

    I thoroughly enjoyed my R17 Gordini during the brief time I owned it, despite its penchant for breaking expensive bits ($80 each for a pair of Kleber radiator hoses, in 1984!). Same model year as this one plus the optional rear window louvers. The dark section of the roof was removable and exposed a full-width sliding canvas sunroof. Nothing beat driving with that roof open on a clear, cold winter night with the heater blasting away. Those seats were the most comfortable I’ve ever sat in, made by Recaro and offering individual spring-loaded thigh supports (visible in the interior photo). Sadly, it went off-road during an ice storm and was beaten up by a tree.

  6. rapple

    Very neat cars when new, not too sure about owning one now, even the nice one the seller is offering. I was a service manager at a dealer with a Renault franchise in 1978 and had one as a demo (between Le Cars). One of my most memorable driving experiences was commuting to my home 40 miles outside Boston on the night of the Blizzard of ’78 in an R17 Gordini shod with summer Michelins using trees, bridges and buildings as guides since the edges of the roads were undistinguishable. Pretty much defining the term “young and foolish”.

  7. Al thompson

    I bought a new 1972 Renault R-17 Gordini in 1973 and had great luck with it. I raced it at Riverside international Raceway in 1973 (before Riverside closed) in a SCCA-sanctioned Open (high-speed) Slalom and took 1st Place in ‘Showroom Stock, Class L’. Fun car to drive – and turned heads (at the time). It was dependable, looked good, was comfortable and was tight. However, my problem with it was it had some under-steer and was underpowered. Otherwise, I’d love to have one again. I also owned a 1966 Renault R-8 Gordini. Now THAT little ride was fun!

  8. Steve D

    We had 3 R15/R17’s growing up. A 1973 R15, a 1974 R17 Gordini (solid roof) and when the car was in for service and totaled, we ended up with a 1976 R17 with the roof. That car took me through 11th, 12th grade and through college, with a 1000 experiences I cannot share, but one of the best was meeting a life long friend because he had a 1975 and we both met at the University of Florida.

    I went on the hunt for reliving that dream, I found this 1973 R17 and brought her back to life a starting two years ago.

    Here is a picture.

  9. Steve D

    whoops forgot picture

  10. William D Rekow

    I know where there is one of these in a junkyard.

  11. Jeff Garrett

    Just found one a 1978 Gordini in poor condition located in chillicothe Ohio it’s in the fb marketplace

  12. Frank Sternett

    Its’ a cold night here in Howell, Michigan so I’ve been meaning to search for other Gordini’s in the States as I have 2, a 1972 and 1979, both w/ Power Sun Roofs and the 79′ has mag wheels vs. plain steel and red Recaro velvet seats. In fact the 1979 was Paul Tibetts’ executive lease car as he was Vice-President of the merger of Renault and Chrysler when Lee Iacocca was President. His 79′ was black w/ the Gordini full rocker panel decal with red stripes from front to rear w/ GORDINI printed out . I actually have a “OEM” Renault brand new decal that I shelved for back-up in case that lower stripe ever got damaged.

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