Nicest One Left? 1982 Renault Fuego

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I’m grateful to the Barn Finds community for flagging this 1982 Renault Feugo Turbo here on eBay. Special thanks to Jim S. for spotting it, as I had it on my watch list and was dying to write it up. First off, I know these are less-than-great cars. But there’s so much I want to like about these oddballs that super clean examples like this one in Florida are damned hard to ignore. There are two bids at present to over $6K with the reserve unmet. 

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First of all, these cars left an impression at a young age, as there was a neighbor down the street who owned one. I believe it caught on fire, but that’s neither here nor there. There’s also one in a junkyard not too far from me that’s been there for years with a perfect interior, much like this one, with thickly bolstered sport seats and one of my favorite shift knobs ever installed in a production automobile. It’s good to see the turbo boost gauge and old-school radio are still present as well.

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The turbocharged 1.6L has only 35,000 original miles. The elderly Florida owner that the seller purchased the car from owned it since new and clearly used it sparingly. While we expect to find survivor-grade vehicles in states like Florida, they often take the shape of Oldsmobiles and economy cars. To find an oddball Fuego Turbo as the vehicle of choice for a retiree just makes me curious as to what other vehicles were in his collection, since the seller references the Renault as being part of a larger assortment of vehicles.

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While the paint remains original, the seller does acknowledge it’s not perfect. I can see a minor abrasion on the bumper in this photo, but it’s all the other details – from the mint interior to the original wheels to the “Turbo” badge on the dash – that makes this Fuego such a standout. I do detect in this picture, however, that the rear wiper has gone astray, which may be a tough part to find a replacement for. Although they had terrible reputations, this could be an example worth owning for the Renault enthusiast or anyone who likes an underdog.

 

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Comments

  1. Dan

    I don’t know what you mean by less than great, they are more than reliable. Many countries in Europe used them as police fleet with no complaints.

    Like 1
  2. RayT Member

    I put a fair number of miles on a couple of Fuego Turbos when they were new. Not as fast or nimble as I would have liked, but in many respects wonderful cars. The seats were teriffic and the ride, as was true of every French car I’ve ever driven, was comfortable.

    It didn’t seem most owners took much care of them, and I saw quite a few that were turned into Roach Motels in short order. The plastics and upholstery fabrics were the first to go, and hard-to-find (and often poor) service and parts availablity did the rest. There were reports of underhood fires back in the day…the turbo generated beaucoup heat! Oh, and the expensive, hard-to-find and not especially wonderful Michelin TRX tires (which this car has) are the ONLY rubber that fits those rims.

    Potentially a fine cruiser — if the price is low enough — but it would take a lot of hard work and more than a little luck to keep it looking this nice a year after purchase.

    Like 1
  3. alder

    I had a 1983 fuego, and for the first few months it was great, then I read an article on the worst cars to have, and there it was the 1983 Renault Fuego. Almost from that day I had nothing but issues with it, the alternator fried twice ( and it was impossible to get to) and then the car doors stuck in the lock position and I had to crawl out the hatch. The passenger window went out and would not come up. It did have the moon roof which was cool, but it got so I was afraid to put it up.

  4. Rabbit

    Having worked at an AMC dealer in the early 80’s, I can attest that the seats were, in fact, great. That’s about where the greatness ends. The Ducellier electrical components were less than reliable, & I saw my share of these cars after underhood fires. Actually, I don’t recall ever seeing our shop without at least one in a service bay, sharing space with Alliances & Encores. At least they were better than the infamous LeCar, which we also sold. Then again, I was driving a ’76 Gremlin at the time (304 V-8), so take my opinions as you may.

    • John K

      LOL about the underhood fires. When these came out I was in high school and had a job as a delivery driver around Boston and down to Cape Cod. Over the course of only a couple of weeks I witnessed three of these off to the side of the highway, roasting away.

  5. Roger Owen

    They were not well loved in the UK, several spontaneous combustions – think there might have been a re-call. Gearbox failures and rust finished them off here. Not seen one for years.

    • Dacosport

      It happens the same in Spain, it’s been years since the last time i saw one.
      As far as i know they were far from being good cars.
      It was the start of the turbo era in street cars and they weren’t too reliable.
      They sold as well the r5 turbo and copa turbo which were and are rally cars, the r11 turbo, r18 turbo, r21 turbo and turbo quadra and the r25 turbo.
      When i was a kid it was common see this renault turbo, now it is almost impossible to see one
      French dig the turbo engines in the 80’s

  6. Dave Wright

    Junk when new does not get batter with age………….another great French idea. Probably original 35,000 miles because they couldn’t keep it running.

  7. Cody

    A lot of stories about these catching on fire. So, Fuego is not just a clever name.

    • Mike H. Mike H.

      “I believe it caught on fire. . .”

      Fuego en fuego! Oh, the irony. . .

  8. crazyfordguy

    A neighbor of a friend bought one new back in ~80-81. My friend asked him what kind of car it was and he didn’t know how to pronounce Fuego.

  9. jaymes

    needs 4 trx metric tires :(

  10. nighttrainx03

    Does anybody remember the commercials they used to run? That was the first thing I thought about when I saw this thing. found it on u-tube.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTbQGBsBtjg remember the turbo zone lol.

  11. Rob

    Not only the nicest, but the Only one left?

  12. Howard A Member

    In the mid ’80’s I worked with a guy that had a car exactly like this. Not a bad car, kind of tinny, but plenty of power.

  13. Van

    Remember when Renault was dominant in F1.
    Alain Prost was the man.
    We said, wow let’s go drive a Renault turbo.
    Funny the three new Fuegos at the dealer were a year old?
    The drive started out ok, until three miles in. I push the go pedal to the floor. The salesman heard the turbo wine and freaked out. Notice I said heard not felt. Very little acceleration could be felt as the salesman informed me that the car was not to be driven that way.
    We returned to the dealership and we’re told to leave post haste.
    Need I say more.

  14. Claus Graf

    I remember these when I was in high school. There was also a formula fuego with fancy body work/spoilers but not a whole lot of extra power.
    There can’t be many fuegos left in this condition.
    I like it.
    We had a Renault 12 in my family.

  15. Rex Kahrs Member

    As always, I’ll repeat my adage regarding Gallic transportation: “Once you own a French car, nothing worse can happen to you”.

    • Tirefriar

      That’s very comforting to a former Chevy Vega owner

  16. Randy

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7v4VxBBGjRA

    “F1 Turbo – The most scary race cars ever – Feel the Torque”

    The “Turbo Era”….1977 to 1988…..1.5 liters (92 cid)….1,000 bhp (some say well over in various tuning states)……Not a problem.

    Safety concerns?….well not so much.

    Back in the day the French certainly could build an all out turbo engine.

  17. Blueprint

    First stick shift I ever drove was a silver Fuego Turbo. 1st gf’s Dad had bought it replace one lemon of a Fairmont. AMC dealers were clearing them out at stupid low prices. Memories of floating down the road in the Renault, gf partly stripping to the Joe Cocker tune from 9 1/2 Weeks. Good memories…

  18. Jay

    Cool fact: the Renault Fuego was the first car available with a keyless entry system! Not that it makes up for any of its other shortcomings…

  19. Murray

    Interesting to hear of the stories of these things catching fire. Fuego is the French word for Fire……

    • Blueprint

      Not French (I’m French-Canadian). Spanish!

      • Murray

        Blueprint… Naturally I bow to your greater understanding of the language Sir :-) I spent a lot of time in Europe in my younger days and I’ll admit to often getting the limited amounts of each of the Euro languages that I did manage to soak up confused as to their origin… I did initially think it was Italian….. Doh!

      • Blueprint

        Full disclosure: had to Google to see if Fuego was Spanish, Portuguese or Italian ;)

  20. bcavileer

    EHad a R12 TL , the a R 17 Gordini. When these came out the local dealer tried to trade me out of the r17 but I wanted a TR8 my neighbor had. The Renaults were cool, but very hard to keep on the road. Remember waiting a month for a clutch… ended up with a Fiat 131, no more french stuff for me..
    But then there was the DS , i will never learn.lol

  21. Clayton

    I drove quite a few Fuegos in the ’90’s without any major issues. I enjoyed them for what they were, but I remain partial to the LeCars and still own and drive a bunch of them. I sold some of the Fuegos but still have several of them (parts cars at this point). There is a really nice red Fuego in North Carolina that was restored to like-new status several years back, and I recall seeing a few others around over the past few years. This particular car looks pretty decent, but I am shocked at the bidding…thought it to be more like a $4k-$5k car.

    • Tirefriar

      Must be dem darn shill bidders

  22. Mike

    It could just be discoloration but did anyone else notice how one of the diagrams/warnings on the inside of hood looks like it was burnt? Small fire at some point? This car is the same age as me but I’ve never once seen any of these in person.

  23. Roger Owen

    Oh yes – looks indeed like it must has got a bit hot under there.. There are several points that let this restoration down, they are minor points but distracting all the same. Nice new brake calipers – bolted onto a rusty back plate, Engine bay black front cross-member looks like a swap from another car, wouldn’t take much to paint it red. Bumper plastic really lets the exterior down – there must be a suitable application that would freshen the age fading. Apart from the load space carpet the interior looks reasonable.

    • Mike H. Mike H.

      They don’t mention restoration in the ad, and although “refreshed” is used they go to some effort to comment on the originality of the paint and interior, so I’d believe that it’s a fairly original car.

      The bumper plastics are gray and match the painted trim on the sides. . . There was some minor discoloration on the rear bumper, but otherwise I thought that the bumper plastics look great for this car’s vintage.

      The piece under the hood which looks burnt appears to be a heat shield; you can see in the upper LH corner that there is still a small amount of the original tinfoil attached to it. It also appears that it’s been habitually sprayed with what appears to be dirty engine oil, could this be from a turbo oil line? It would explain the condition of that piece of heat shielding.

      Not sure what cross-member you’re referring to in black? I see weatherstripping which traverses the engine bay in black. . . Were you referring to the rusty looking metal plate that supports the hood latch? It indeed looks like it’s from a different car and isn’t in a similar condition to the rest of it; it makes you wonder why someone would need to replace that particular piece. It seems odd, but again parts fail or break sometimes.

  24. Mark-A

    Can’t really understand why the spare wheel & tyre seems to be a NON Metric (both rim & tyre?) totally different tread block design which to me seems like a re-tread but could be wrong.

  25. Geno

    Had 3 of them, 2 caught on fire. The 1 for parts did not. Still have 2. Had 4 or 5 blown engines and cracked heads. My buddy could tell whenever I was ahead of him from the burnt antifreeze/oil smell.

  26. M Perkins

    I had my 1982 Renault Fuego for 11 years and never had a problem with it. It was one of the smoothest running cars that I ever owned. No rust problems either. The interior was awesome and plenty of room. I loved that car. Traded it in for a new 1994 Mercury Capri convertible.

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