French Classic: 1983 Renault Fuego

French car manufacturers have always had the uncanny ability to create interesting, quirky, and ground-breaking cars, and the Fuego is a perfect example of that ability. Launched in the US in 1982 and sold through AMC dealerships, it is a car whose design has stood the test of time really well. Barn Finder Roger referred the Fuego to us, so thank you so much for that Roger. The owner has decided to part with the Fuego and has listed it for sale with an asking price of $6,900. You will find the Fuego located in New Albany, Ohio, and listed for sale here on Craigslist.

At around the time that the Fuego was introduced, a number of other manufacturers were also experimenting with vehicles of similar design, including Nissan with the Gazelle, and Isuzu with its Piazza. Compared to those cars, the styling of the Fuego has held up really well. This particular car appears to be in really good condition. There are a few little marks on the car, such as the one on the driver’s side quarter panel near the tail-light, but the overall condition of the panels, paint, and trim is very good. One thing that does puzzle me slightly is the 2.2-liter badge on the rear pillars. I went and did a bit of research, and that engine wasn’t introduced into the American Fuego models until 1984, so this one may have been manufactured very late in 1983 and was actually a cross-over vehicle between those two years.

The interior of the Fuego included some quirky design features, and the most obvious of these is the front seats. When the car was released, these seats were like nothing that had ever been seen previously in a production car. The leather on these seats appears to have held up well over the years, but the driver’s seat is showing some wear. However, a good upholsterer should be able to condition the seats, apply some dye to a few of the worn spots, and they should come up really well. The Fuego features power windows, air conditioning, and it was also the first production car to offer remote central locking. Apart from the CB radio and a couple of toggle switches to the left of the steering wheel, the rest of the interior appears to be original, and it also looks to be in good condition.

I wish that we had at least one photo of the engine, but we don’t. The Fuego is powered by the 2.2-liter 4-cylinder engine, and the transmission is a 5-speed manual which sends the drive to the front wheels. The Fuego would also be fitted with power steering, as this became a standard feature on the car from early in the Fuego’s production life. The owner states that the car has always been well cared for and that it runs and drives really well.

I’ve always liked the Fuego because it is a little bit different, a little bit daring, it delivers great fuel economy, and it is a fun little car to drive. This one appears to be in good condition, and due to the fact that the worldwide production was in excess of 250,000 cars, most parts can still be readily sourced. A really good Fuego will now set you back around $8,000, while an immaculate one will be closer to $10,000. This one is priced at $6,900, and if you are looking for an affordable French classic, this is a car worth considering.

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  1. Howard A

    In the mid-80’s, I worked with a guy that had one of these. It was bright red( like the one in related finds) and had a personalized license plate, “ITSRACY”. I rode in it a couple times, and was impressed what a nice car it was, with images of the Alliance still fresh. Quiet, shifted nice and smooth. Still had many typical French features, but he put a ton of miles on it. Parts would be the only thing holding me back on this. Most auto parts folks weren’t even born when this car came out. I can just hear it,,,”you want a left CV shaft for a Renault what now?”

    • Rob Watson

      Parts are often cited as a reason not to buy one, but really unfounded. The 2.2L Douvrin engine was used far more in the ’87-’91 Peugeot 505 in North America and the ’88-’89 Eagle Medallion. The R18i (Sportwagon) also used the same engine and transmission too. The MT has plenty of parts available from a leading wholesaler in ALTOUSA in Alabama and AutomaticChoice in the UK. Renault specific parts can be ordered online from the UK easy enough. Clutch parts and other things can be had at RockAuto or Westernhemispheres online. The exhaust system was an OEM Bosal except for the catalytic converter… replacements are available on the Walker site. There is no reason NOT to buy it, if parts is the only excuse. Simply isn’t true. Bluestreak Canada has many parts as well; also known as Std Motor Products or Intermotor parts. You can order new CV shaft or just order the ends from SKF online. It isn’t a big deal with the internet these days. Record France or good APEX shocks and struts are available online too. Gates USA (the water pump is actually an SKF product) has the timing belt and water pump. Join the Renault North America Club on FB for any help you may need.

  2. Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff


  3. Bocatrip

    CV joints would normally go bad on these as well as having flimsy switches. Overall it is a soft riding car. I happen to like the R17 Gordini that came before this model in the 70s. The Fuego was a 2 door Renault 18 which never sold in great numbers in the US.

  4. Rabbit

    Nice writeup as always, Adam. Having worked at an AMC dealer in the early 80’s, I can say these were pretty sweet cars to drive. Servicing them was another story. Always has at least a couple in the shop. Beat the Alliance, tho.

  5. ck

    I had a friend that worked at a AMC / Renault dealer in Mesa Arizona.
    He said that the salesman said that you could Park a Fuego in the worst part of town, leave it running with a full tank of gas, roll the windows down, blast the stereo, and it would still be there the next day !

  6. UK Paul 🇬🇧

    My dad bought one brand new in 1983. Its exhaust fell off the day he bought it but we had it for years and it was my first car.
    I then bought another as my second car when a low mileage one came up near to where i lived.
    That car needed new brakes which i had done by Renault… had a very serious accident when they failed the night after picking the car up from the Renault dealer.

    Still have fond memories though.

  7. Andrew M Pappas

    I definitely can’t buy this car. I’d be making a stupid joke every time I get in it that I’m “in Fuego”. I wouldn’t be able to help myself…and then my wife would have to kill me.

  8. Cruuser

    I was an AMC technician in the 80’s. This was the best of AMC Renault, and that really isn’t saying much. People with fond memories of the AMC Renaults must have a strong prescription in their Rose colored glasses! The Fuego turbo was a fun little car, but they didn’t last long. There isn’t an AMC Renault out there that I would even pay scrap value for. I

  9. rapple

    I’m kinda glad this car is some distance or I just might…..
    As Adam mentions, the design has aged quite well, not so common with ’80s cars. And those seats! You just know they are about the most comfortable car seats you will ever place your butt in.

  10. Daymo

    Just as an observation, why do you Americans take a pretty car, like a Fuego or a R5 for example and put on these ugly headlamps?
    Both these cars were originally designed with flush-fitting headlamps that help with aerodynamics as well as look much cleaner.
    I’ve seen it time and time again with European-designed cars on this site. #Justasking

    • Concinnity

      You are right about the headlights, but all manufacturers were constrained by a federal requirement to use one of a limited set of sealed beam inserts in a misguided attempt to reduce costs and make it easier to change out a blown or broken unit. Misguided, because the flush units on many cars were made of toughened glass and latterly plastic, so they’re hard to break, much harder than a cheap sealed beam unit. Which is why, finally sense was seen, and the rules changed

      I’ve had three of these Fuegos, two 2 litres and one Turbo. The Turbo was based on the little Cleon all iron pushrod engine from the R5, also used in the mid engined R5 Turbo rally car, and five speed manual only in both. I’ve still got the nice ‘Renault only’ fitment forged BBS cross spoke alloys, fitted to Turbos, on my Mk 1 Espace. They are incredibly light.

      Outside the USA these cars were quite popular and stayed on in production in Argentina until 1992,( after a slightly clumsy facelift and with the 2.2 version of the Douvrin all alloy four).

      The better looking flush headlights are seen here along with the BBS wheels.

  11. jphilliipbandy

    Can’t believe it…..I had one of the later 2.2litre one….five speed…I called it my BMW Beater…..yes, BMW Beater…..very quck…these the last ones…no turbo, but very fast….not problems….really

    Vive La Panhard

  12. Mark Looman

    didn’t these have a transaxle? Is the engine inline whilst still being a front wheel drive car?

    • Concinnity

      Yes, tha same as AudiA4/A6/A8 and Subaru, and Renault 12, 18, 20, 25, 30, Medallion, and Eagle Premier.

      • Mark Looman

        I guess what I mean is didn’t these share the same transmission style and layout as the Europa and the Alpine?

  13. Concinnity

    Yes they do, in the Europa’s case, in the same orientation, i.e. engine in front, transmission behind. Hardly surprising as it is the exact same Renault transmission. In the Alpines the final drive is flipped over to allow for the engine to be at the rear. A stronger, redesigned, version of this transaxle is fitted to the V6 powered cars, the Renault 25 and 30, the DeLorean and later Alpines, and also to later Lotus Espirits,( after Citroen’s 9kg heavier SM/Merak transmission was no longer strong enough.)

  14. Sandy

    Renault Owner’s Club of North America is a GREAT place to find parts for this wonderful car! We are a very supportive and inclusive club. The One to Watch. The price for this car may be a bit steep as it is a non turbo without the sunroof. A more realistic price would be $5,000.

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