Rare In The US: 1979 Renault 17 Gordini

With a crisp, modern design unlike many cars from the early-1970s, Renault created what was, in my opinion, a very nice-looking car. While they’re rare to see in the US today, this 1979 Renault 17 Gordini Convertible Coupe can be found listed here on eBay in Canaan, New York. There is an unmet opening bid price of $4,900 listed and no reserve after that.

I’m a huge fan of the R17, Renault 17, or Renault 17 Gordini – or however a person wants to refer to this car. Especially the convertible coupe model. They were all two-door coupes but this one appears to be what was called a Convertible Coupe which had a removable roof panel that revealed an accordion-like top that slid back, letting the sunshine in. I wish that the seller would have shown us what it looks like but they don’t show it with the roof panel removed and they don’t show the headliner from the inside. There appear to be some fit and finish issues on this car.

The Renault 17, and related R15, would be available from 1971 to 1979 and later in the production, they shared showroom space with the Le Car in the US. I have only owned one French car, a 1987 Renault GTA, and it was flawless and very, very fun to drive. I haven’t driven a Gordini but I would like to. The seller says that this example has been repainted but unless I’m missing something, I don’t see it unless these are old photos maybe? They say that there was some rust “but it was removed, neutralized, painted, repaired.” The graphics on the bottom appear to be original and not in good condition.

Another confusing part of the seller’s description is they mention that they have a second R17 Gordini for sale, one that doesn’t start, but I don’t know which interior relates to the photo above. The seats have covers on them so we don’t know the condition of the original seating material but they say that the interior needs to be restored. It has a 5-speed manual which is rarely a bad thing. They have included two underside photos but we don’t know which car they’re from. They have owned the green car (I’m assuming) since 1987.

The engine should be Renault’s 1.6L inline-four with around 95 horsepower and yes, that thang’s got a hemi in it! Well, it has a hemi-head and fuel injection and all of the good things that you expect from a late-1970s Renault. Guys? Where did everyone go? Seriously, the seller says that it “Starts and runs very well. The engine is tuned to have more power than the other Gordinis I know.” It also has a new battery and a new heavy-duty custom radiator. Have any of you owned a Gordini? Any thoughts on this one?


  1. alphasud Member

    Such a cool little car. Does anyone see the way the B pillar sweeps up? At first glance I saw Lamborghini Miura in the profile styling. I also noticed the engine drives the accessories from the cam-in-block much like the Citroen DS design. They also use a wet liner like Citroen did. European versions were much more handsome without the heavy bumpers. Here is a link from a sale last year on BaT. Not much of a market for these but at least you can see the potential of what the car can look like.

    Like 5
  2. Big C

    “There appears to be some problems with fit and finish…” There was a problem with fit and finish on Renault’s when they were new.

    Like 5
  3. Derek

    Just about every vehicle made in the ’70s that didn’t come from Japan had fit and finish issues; that was the decade that made the likes of Datsun and Toyota.

    I haven’t seem an R17 in years, even in France.

    Like 2
    • bone

      Japans cars fit and finish was no better than anyone elses back then, they did have much more reliable engines though. The cars had cheap crappy plastic interiors which didnt hold up, and the metal dissolved in water. The engines though were like lawn mowers; no matter how much you neglected them, you always knew they would start

  4. Martin Horrocks

    I had a Mexican built 12TS, which used the same engine with a single Weber. Very goo over long distances, comfottable and quick, rather than fast.

    As @Derek says, rare to see an R17 anywhere these days, but I wouldn’t say that was a great loss. First gen Scirocco and Alfasud Sprint were much more desirable competitors.

    Like 1
  5. princeofprussia

    Your ’87 GTA may have been designed in France, but it was a Franco-American Motors built in Kenosha, Wisconsin, with HORRIBLE quality control. I know, as I have owned French and Kenoshan Renaults. My Kenosha-built R-11 had the following happen: the window crank knob came off in my hand; the stick shift knob came off in my hand, and the motor vibrated so that the sunvisor screws worked themselves out and the sunvisors dropped in our laps. Seriously. My French Renaults rode better, handled better, and certainly lasted better. That being said, this R-17 would be a very nice project, but be forewarned: you’ll be scouring Ebay for parts! GLWTS!

    Like 1
    • Bob Washburne

      What the US market demanded of Renaults made them into crap here. I drove R5s and my mom’s R6 in France. YES by US standards they are tinny, with thin doors and the hope of insulation & sound-deadening, but damned reliable cars.

      I’d remove the bumpers entirely. The ‘corrosion treatment’ appears to be liberal use of Rustoleum Rusty Metal primer – it looks a bit like the underside of my sister’s old ’04 $Runner…and I wonder where the hose for the carburetor vacuum advance went?

      Like 1
  6. scottymac

    Back when I was young and times were tough, Dad would drag home all kinds of mongrels. We had a Morris Minor, an Anglia, and multiple Vauxhalls and Opels, but only one Renault Dauphine. Years later, the styling of a Fuego caught my sister’s. She just wouldn’t listen, and paid for it, over and over.

    Like 5
  7. Beyfon

    From someone who has owned a few Renault in my life (Dauphine, Floride, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20… No, never a 30TS!) I must admit that the problem with the 17 is that it looks great but it drives like a Renault 12 which was the worst driving car of those old Renault. Most of them feel tinny, but eager and fun. The 12 has heavy steering, tons of understeer, a very vague gear shifter and an undersized engine. The 17 has a better engine but was still a dog.

    Like 1

      i had a 17tl 1974 model back in the late 70s. sadly only a tl 4 speed manual shift with a 1565cc carburettor engine. mine had the electric fold back roof which was great. i found it a great car and it could run rings round a lot of cars with similar sized engines. it never let me down and looked fab. i loved that car. RIP XMB 10M.

  8. Michelle Rand Staff

    Looks a LOT like a Lancia Beta.

    Like 1
  9. Mitchell

    “There appears to be some problems with fit and finish”, guess the
    onwer has lost its goggles. But better chained then lost the green
    one looks like a ‘do it all again’ from under carriage to the seat covers.

    Gordini’s back in the days where as a twin turbo of something else
    today. This roof design is the precedessor of all later coming so
    called Targa. Yeah we know, the French and Italians where the
    inventors of automotive techniques.

    4500 to buy. another 15 grand into new parts and labour, at least
    a freshened R 17 is worth about 15000 Not a good investment.
    But as typical for Renaults, they have very comftable seats.

  10. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Auction update: this one sold with a single bid for $4,900.

    Like 1

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