One Buck Barn Find? 1972 Renault 17R

Update: The listing appears to have been deleted but you can at least read about it here – sorry! JO

I have to be honest, a Renault anything doesn’t usually garner my attention. This 1972 Model 17R is different – it really caught my attention and I don’t believe that I have ever spied one before, it registers no familiarity. That being the case, I’d like to delve into this sporty French hardtop, located in Sissonville, West Virginia and available here on craigslist for $1.

The Renault 17R was produced between 1971 and 1979 and the seller indicates that few made their way to U.S. shores. The platform was a reuse of an existing Renault model but the sheet metal for the 17R  and its Model 15 sibling was all new. The architectural layout for the 17R is a longitudinally-mounted engine driving the front wheels.

The seller mentions, “This car was the dealer’s personal car, so it has never been titled (owner still has paperwork for it, though, so titling it shouldn’t be a problem)”. Ah, OK, so the former dealership owner, whoever and where ever he is, still has the “paperwork” 48 years after the fact? Tread lightly… And curiously, the listing condition for this Renault is referenced as “salvage“. Beyond that, the elephant in the room is the Corvette influenced exhaust side pipes. What’s up with that? And there are eight tubes (four per side) for a four-cylinder engine. To cut to the chase, the body is straight and lacking obvious damage and rust though the finish is a bit flat. The trim is still in place, the seller mentions that ’72 was the last year for metal C-pillar grilles, and the chrome looks fair. It may be possible to bring the entire exterior of this Renault back to presentable shape with some elbow grease.

There is no included image of the 1.6 liter, in-line, 107 HP, four-cylinder engine. It’s probably irrelevant as this Renault bears the familiar, “ran when it was parked” caveat. Gear changes occur by virtue of a four-speed manual transaxle.

The interior is self-described by the seller as, “Leather seats are dirty, but no cracks or tears. Same with carpet”. The upholstery does appear to be revivable but the requisite “pile-o-detritus” in the rear cargo portion completely detracts from the interior. That said, everything, as in, the dash, instrument panel, door cards, etc. all appear to be present and minus serious degradation; there would seem to be a foundation here from which to start a clean-up operation.

So, the price is listed as $1, there is a reference to “best offer”, there is no title but the original owner, from long ago, has the paperwork – since this Renault was never titled, the engine is non-running and the condition is listed as salvage. Oh yeah, and don’t forget the side-mounted boom tubes. At least a repair manual is included, pretty much a necessity for this generation Renault. If you note the old photo above, this 17R was a slick-looking car in its day, definitely unique, especially compared to anything on the road today. So, knowing all of these attributes, what do you think about this rare Renault, worthy of consideration?

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  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    He only wants a buck for it? Hopefully he’s open to offers.

    As they say, “Once you buy a French car, nothing worse can happen to you”.

    Like 27
    • DayDreamBeliever Member


      Caught me off guard, and literally LOL!

      Good one, Rex!

      Like 2
  2. Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

    Side pipes and tinted glass on an untitled dealer-owned/old stock? Odd to see this car sitting in West Virginia. Must have been one helluva poker bet. Shame this didn’t get more screen time, I’d be a serious player since my last chance to buy an R17 dissolved as did the car itself into a pasture in Lynchburg, Tennessee around 2015.

    Like 2
  3. Classic Steel

    The old buck is make me an offer i cant refuse.

    Interesting but title is gone baby gone. He could have at least got the floating open title or BOS.

    If I bought this now gone-car the owner or stolen car holder would sign a BOS to assist the future trial of stolen property defense 😉👀

    Like 2
  4. Bill

    If “titling shouldn’t be a problem,” then why the heck didn’t the owner get it titled?

    Like 7
  5. GARY Member

    I copied the info below as a reference because in 1976 my father purchased a brand new Renault Gordini R17, which was also the year I received my 1st driver’s license. I have no clue why he wanted or bought it, but at 16 years old all I can say is man was it a fast get up and go car! I never buried the speedometer, but easily ran through the 5-speed up to 130 mph so quickly. I remember it having the optional AM/FM, 8-track w/built in CB radio, an exceptional upgrade for the year. The car was white exterior with red racing stripes from the front just below the headlights to the back and up the sail panels; interior was a burgundy red leather, and a fully retractable roof. I must say that for it’s time it was one bad-ass sports car. I’m sharing this info because apparently there is little known about them and thought the readers on here would appreciate some incite of what it was like to have been fortunate enough to have driven one for a few years. I do not remember anything negative about it other than it was traded in as it was approaching 100,000 miles on the odometer. Hopefully I’m not boring you, the readers, with this bit of info as I was hoping to broaden you with the little known automobile facts that exist. I figure I was the fortunate one as I got to drive this car a lot and really enjoyed it even though my 1st car (still in my possession) was a 65 Chevelle Malibu Convertible.

    March 1976: New R15 and R17 ranges introduced as follows: R15 TL, R15 GTL, R17 TS and R17 Gordini. The R15 TL/GTL were mechanically identical to the earlier R15 TL, while the R17 TS and Gordini had the 1647 cc engine from the Renault 16 TX.

    17 Gordini R1313 Type 807-12 Leaded Fuel 1647 cc 108 PS (79 kW; 107 hp) @ 6000 rpm 180 km/h (112 mph) 9.77 kg/CV

    Like 13
    • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

      Not bored at all. For over 40 years I’ve had a red Matchbox of this car in its blister pack. Only ever saw one in person in 2015 when one showed up as part of a bigger collection of French wonders on a farm in Tennessee. I’m sure it, and the Fuego that came after, were way ahead of their time in terms of style, comfort and performance. If, like I discovered by owning two Peugeots, the service network for these cars dried up at the dawn of the 1990s — it’s no wonder many of them got mothballed or simply left in people’s yards. There is a fellow within the city limits of Nashville that has all of his Peuguots scattered across his fenced yard. They never get better with age when stored that way! Cheers.

      Like 4
      • SSPBill

        I had the same Matchbox and think I still have it somewhere decades later. You should have opened your. It was unbeatable on my Hotwheels Thundershift race track!

        I actually seen one of these back in the day. A friend of my father’s daily- drove one. His weekend car was a big block DIRT modified. Go figure.

    • Tony Primo

      Sorry, but I can’t help but wonder what year did you get your 2nd drivers license?

      Like 5
      • GARY Member

        OK, I deserved that one, I guess I should have said I my 1st real license that followed the learner’s permit.

        Like 4
    • Jim ODonnell Jim ODonnell Staff


      Not boring at all! We try to feature cars beyond typical barn finds like Camaros, Mustangs and Chargers but we don’t always know as much about certain featured topics, the more unusual ones, as we would like to – there is only so much time to research before publication. I’m sorry this listing was deleted so soon.

      I always encourage input from our Barn Finds readers, it is an education for everyone including we writers too.



      Like 6
    • Mark walker

      My favourite Renault in the 70’s here in the UK when I was a kid (I’m now 55). They are such a rare sight. I’ve been going to classic car shows for years and have only ever seen one and that was the same car twice! A pretty car. The Fuego that followed was also a good looker.

      Like 2
      • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

        After growing up a car-crazed kid in the melting pot of import cars that is Washington, DC….it took me moving to the the state of Tennessee before I ever saw a Renault Fuego (2 actually) up close in someone’s driveway. Along with the r17 “pasture find” that no longer looked like it could support the weight of its body parts.

        Like 1
  6. Snafuracer

    My folks had one when I was a kid. Fun, sporty and very reliable car. Drove it for years until Dad traded it off for a DS or some other Citroen. Our Renault had the slide open ragtop too.

    Like 4
  7. larry maloney Member

    I, in a life time long ago and far away, owned a ’74 Renault 17 Gordini. I liked the car. It handled well and was a great car. I would like to know what the “R” indicates. I don’t any more projects but it seems there is more to be known about this car. If it was closer I might be tempted.

    • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

      I believe the numbering in the Barn Find listing is incorrect. These are designated R17 as other Renaults are numbered (R5, R16). In the US, the R5 was given the cute moniker “Le Car.” So I think what we are looking at is the R17, not 17r non-Gordini.

      Like 2
  8. Nick

    I went for a drive in a turbo model in the 70s at the time when Renault was dominating Formula one with their Turbo cars. It was impressive for such a small engine. I’m not sure how durable the turbo engine was.

    Like 1
  9. That AMC Guy

    The asking price is way too high for one of these.

    Like 4
  10. Denny

    I wanted a 17 Gordini sooo much back in the day – around 1974. I thought the front end styling was beautiful (though the 5mph rear bumper was horrible) and it had gotten a glowing review in C&D. And that fabric sunroof! Even went to the local dealer in East Stroudsburg PA for a brochure..

  11. GARY Member

    I will post a picture of the Renault Gordini that I drove, but I did find this picture of a 1974 which closely resembles the racing stripe

    Like 2
    • local_sheriff

      I remember having seen a couple R15/17 but I’ve never had any interest in French cars. However your history above was inspiring and proves it’s cool to widen one’s automotive horizon. Apparently these little coupes were extremely hot for its day and being R12 based they should also be somewhat easy to locate parts for.

      Definately learnt something new today 👍

      Like 3
  12. Doyler




    ugh. I really want to build a rally replica.

    Like 3
  13. larry Member

    I understand… the car pictured is an R17 the fancier version of the R15. i like french cars. i had an R 16 (200k + mile) and an R17 Gordini, the car pictured has the european bumpers not the ugly safety american version. I thought it was pretty car and a fun car to drive. i don’t need anymore projects at any cost.

    Like 1
    • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

      The same pasture that claimed the R17 I looked at years ago also produced an R16 which a friend of mine purchased and trailered to his home. I was resold to the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville not long after. I believe the R16 was Car of The Year in a magazine editors poll when first debuted.

      Like 1
      • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

        The R16 was voted European Car of the Year by a board of European motoring journalists in 1966

        Like 1
  14. Phil Parmelee

    My parents bought one back in the mid-70s. I only got to drive it once as I lived in another state, but I loved driving it. I remember the engine made a dual whine, making it sound like 2 engines. Good times!

    Like 1
  15. carey Hill

    had a very similar 15ts coupe- same shape and layout- different rear side windows- great little car- very advanced for the 70’s – loved it till the kids got too big….
    Surprisingly fast- hemi head on the 1.6l- slightly quirky-

  16. John Kam

    I had a 1974 Gordini which was my first car in 1982. Four speed and that wonderful full length power sunroof which turned it into an almost-convertible. The design was way ahead of its time.

    Like 1
  17. GARY Member

    I found this 4-year old article on Hemmings website and within the comments from when the article was mentioned there is a comment by JP Smith who refers to “Fairview Motors the US NE parts distributor” which was where we bought our Renault from. Crazy how much info is actually out there about these automobiles, and in further reading, how much Renault proper invested in & helped to save so many other manufactures, not just AMC

    Like 2

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