The French Collection

Okay, how many of you picked up on the reference to the 1971 classic The French Connection in the title? Well, even if you didn’t, you can still appreciate this seller’s collection of obscure and rare Renault automobiles submitted by reader Reese O. The seller of this barn full of French classics claims to have the largest collection of Renaults in the Midwest, and with over 20 cars, he is probably not far off with that claim.

I can’t identify all of what is shown in the seller’s pictures, but I do recognize a few standard R5s, or Le Cars as they were called stateside, and one or two Alliances. Maybe some of you can identify some of the other cars shown in these low light and fragmented pictures.

The crown jewel of this collection is a replica Renault R5 Turbo which is featured here on craigslist in the St. Cloud, Minnesota area. Now I know what you’re thinking, this is only a replica car, but it still has a fascinating story. This replica R5 Turbo was apparently built by Archer Renault in Duluth Minnesota to be used as advertising for the dealership and later as a race support vehicle. How hard must it have been to get one’s hands on a real R5 Turbo for it to make it worth their while for the dealer to convert their own. No word if the replica includes the engine and drivetrain upgrades that a real Turbo model would have had, but this conversion seems to be the simple addition of a body kit and Turbo model trim and grills. Nonetheless, this car has only had one owner since being purchased from the dealership that converted it which makes for an interesting history. With all of these French classics being in reportedly solid condition, albeit non-running, what would you do if you could get your hands on this remarkable hoard of vehicles?


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WANTED 1961 Chevrolet Biscayne Looking for a 1961 Biscayne in decent shape for an everyday driver. Will also consider Bel-Air Contact

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  1. RayT Member

    Ethan, that R5 Turbo “replica” does not — and could not — have the real car’s engine and driveline upgrades. The amount of fabrication, cutting, bending and plain ‘ol modifying involved just in moving the much different driveline from front to back (and essentially turning it 180 degrees) would be beyond most people, and the price would have likely been more than it would have cost the Archers to buy the real thing. Given their ties to Renault, I would imagine it wasn’t difficult for them to acquire the body parts (and at a friendly price) to tack on to an unsuspecting Le Car.

    Aside from the R5s pictured in the stash, the seller seems to have a Fuego and R17 Gordini as well. But since my “collecting” days are over, I’d be interested in picking up just one of the R5s, if in decent shape. They aren’t difficult to work on (except for chasing down parts) and are reliable, economical and fun.

    If the collector had some sort of connection to the Archers, I’d want to snoop around and see if they had any leftover Renault Racing parts in the warehouse. A 1397cc Alpine engine does an American-spec R5 all kinds of good!

  2. Rhett

    is it wrong to want the 17 Gordini?

    • RayT Member


      • SSPBill

        Agreed. I had an R17 Matchbox as a kid. Have wanted a real one ever since. It was my go-to car whenever we setup the track and was virtually unbeatable. I still have it around somewhere.

    • Gary

      Not at all! My father bought a brand new R17 Gordini that I began to drive when I was 18. It was white, red interior, retractable roof, 5-speed, and flew like a bat outta hell! I was just sinking my roots into my first (still have it) car, a 65 Malibu Conv., when he comes home with this new car(?) I had never heard of anything Renault, other than the name. For an import, front wheel drive, piece of (later to be determined) crap, it sure got up! They just were not very dependable, and at the time, nobody but the dealer had much experience working on it.

  3. P

    Is that 9 a GTA? I want it ;)

  4. Ken W Nelson Member

    What, no Citroens, Panhards or Peugeots?? No R16? He’s missing the best of the breed. Boring – altho I’ll admit the R5 alias Le Car, has a superb torsionbar suspension that eats potholes for breakfast. Never forget when a friend shot his R5 across a drainage gutter onto a main cross street and we barely felt it! And alas – the R16 has to be one of the best, most useful cars with 4 doors ever built with its superb ergonomics in seats, visibility & flexibility of storage capacity – not to mention 35 mpg fuel economy.

    • RayT Member

      Ken, I have to agree that the R16 was the pick of the Renault litter. I spent considerable time — and some money, of course — bringing mine up from $100 “beater” to Pretty Nice Machine status, and never regretted the investment. It had the same basic suspension layout as the R5 (torsion bars all around) which, with the addition of Koni shocks, gave it a fine ride and excellent, if tippy, handling. Practical, too, due to the huge rear hatch.

      I do have to question your “35 mpg” assertion, though. Even after I installed a 5-speed transaxle from a R16 TX, never managed anything over 30, and that was during gentle highway cruising. Most of the time, I was pushing it right along, and didn’t care much about fuel mileage.

      Wish I still had it! Except, that is, for parts availability; spent way too many Saturdays at the Pick-Your-Part yard!

  5. Ken W Nelson Member

    I could’ve been off on the mileage, but it sure was better than my ’65 Citroen DS19. Sadly I have to let my two R16s in San Jose Ca. go as I’ve filled my space with more Panhards – compared to them, R16 parts are fairly easy, thru a guy in Fla. who seems to have everything for them. The ’71 was my main rally car, as the 911 guys on the NoFrills Iron Bottom Motoring Runs out of Pasadena used to love telling me how far I’d roll in corners without falling over! Did have a couple say I only had 3 on the road often!

  6. IdL

    In the pictures, I see a white and a green r5 ‘leCar’, a red r17, a light blue and a red r9/alliance (the hatchback variety is r11/encore), a grey Fuego 1.6l and a grey r21 saloon (sold as ‘medallion’ in the States).
    The red r9 might be a GTA, but that is only based on the rims and color.

    • George Member

      The Eagle “Medalion” Dodge “Monaco” were derived from the R-21, but they were substantially different. I probably wouldn’t call them the same car. The Dodge version was created with the sole intent of consuming Renault parts. Chrysler was required to purchase a certain volume of French parts as part of the AMC sale, and creating a second sales chain allowed them to meet that requirement faster.

      • SubGothius

        Actually, the Dodge Monaco was a badge-engineered Eagle Premier, derived from the R25. There was no Dodge version of the Renault/Eagle Medallion (R21).

  7. George Member

    Love that R-17. Rare enough to drive you insane finding parts.

  8. John

    Holy flashback! My brother-in-law was a Renault mechanic here in PA and growing up we had a succession of R12’s (even a bright orange wagon) and my first car was dog hair filled R17 I bought for $350 when I was 16. Man that 8-track and Alpine 6×9’s rocked! A few years later I picked up an R17 Gordini as well and fixed and drove that until I switched for a 240Z project in college. Always wanted the R5 Turbo of course but that never materialized. My grandfather had a Dauphine back in the late 60’s so I guess odd French cars were in my blood.

  9. Dan Mouton

    You had a 75 jaguar xjc 12 silver w/black vin ton got sick could not follow trough wanted to buy it to restore had one when my wife and I got marred is there some way to go back to find old listing


    Like 1
    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Dan, you can search the listings with the window on the home page, but unless the ad is recent it will no longer be active. If it was an exclusive through Barn Finds you may still be able to contact the seller (if they haven’t sold it already).

    • Dan

      Hello the seller has a lot of these Renault’s still for sale.

  10. Carey Hill

    love the r17 and r15…. I had a 15ts sport coupe (R17 but different side windows with the 1565cc hemi head. loved it- it flew… found it very reliable…

  11. gaspumpchas

    Guy I worked for used to say they made Renaults out of Prince Albert tobacco cans…

  12. Maestro1

    I know where the parts are, the problem is finding a mechanic, not a technician,
    the cars have an international racing history there’s really nothing wrong as long as you know you’re not in a Chrysler 300.

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