The Nicest One Left? 1978 Renault 17 Gordini

One of the Renault models that we had in the U.S. was the 17, along with the LeCar. For years those were the only two Renaults sold here. Looking back on it now, I can’t believe that even those two were sold here. This 1978 Renault 17 Gordini can be found listed here on eBay in Miami, Florida. The current bid is over $4,000 with no reserve and there are still 5 days left on the auction!

Some of you may know that I got a Renault (Alliance) GTA a couple of years ago, my first French car. It’s fantastic, or it has been so far for as little as I drive it. The design is nothing like this 17 Gordini which I would much rather have. It’s sleek and unusual and decidedly European. Although, God help you if you contact a shop that specializes in “European” cars to have them do anything on it, they only work on German cars as if Germany was the only country in Europe.

This car looks great and it sounds like it is great, for the most part. Although, rust is an issue. There is no rust on my 1987 GTA which is unusual but the seller of this Gordini mentions some pinhole rust on the bottoms of the doors, rear hatch and elsewhere, but the frame and underside are good.

The interior is crazy cool in this Gordini! The seats look perfect t if not a bit faded in spots but so am I. The dash has a couple of cracks in it and they say that the power top works well but the condition of it isn’t perfect, although the hardtop is close to being perfect. The seller has provided a great YouTube video of the car.

The engine looks equally as odd to me as my GTA engine does, like nothing I remotely recognize. But as I said, that’s my first experience with a French car. I know that a lot of you have owned and do own them. This engine should be Renault’s 1.6L inline-four with around 107 hp. I would never go over 100 mph in a car like this but the top speed was supposedly around 112 mph, give or take. This looks like a nice example of a really rare car in the U.S. and anyone who has been looking for one had better snag this R17 Gordini.

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Comments

  1. AnalogMan

    I owned one of these back in the early ‘80’s when I was a grad student. It was the perfect car for a student of limited financial means to use as transportation – reliable, easy to fix, cheap to maintain.

    Not. (I did a lot of drugs back then).

    It was very exotic feeling, especially for the $800 I paid for it. Felt so sophisticated and ‘European’ to drive. It had that incredible ride that only the French seem to be able to do, a combination of firm and sure-footed in turns but unbelievably compliant and comfortable on rough roads.

    It was tremendous fun to drive, and uncommon even back then. I never saw another one. But it was as horrendously unreliable as you would imagine of a 1970’s French car. Everything was engineered and built differently from any other car, making working on it harder than divining the inner workings of a Tardis.

    The ‘pinholes’ comment in the ad would warrant a close look. Like any car of that time, they would rust at the merest hint of moisture (my 6 year old one at the time was already beginning to return to the elements from which it was made).

    This probably is not only the best one left, but maybe the only one. It’s worth saving. It comes from a time when cars had loads of character and personality.

    6
    • Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Great, detailed comment, AnalogMan! It’s always nice to hear positive comments about the vehicles being shown here. Not that all comments aren’t helpful and valid – negative comments are also great if they point out real flaws in design or reliability from actual owner experiences.

      6
  2. Laurent Herjean

    Had never seen it with American bumpers. Oh boy do they deface the car…

    3
  3. Snafuracer

    My folks had a 74 R 17 Gordini. It was bought new and apparently was “European spec” with no emissions stuff. Fun, quick, amazing sound and very reliable, my folks had it for years. Loved the sliding fabric power roof! Always wanted one for myself!

    2
    • Phil Parmelee

      My folks also had an R 17 back in the 70’s. What I remember most about driving it is that when really revved, it seemed to sound like there were 2 engines, not one. Never experienced that with any other car.

      2
  4. Arson Cop

    As said above, the French got ride right along with the best seats. When Jeep and Renault joined forces in the 80’s, my 88 Cherokee had the most comfortable manual seats, better than any electric seats I’ve owned.
    The mention of LeCar brought back the memory that a small town in Washington had two as Police Car! Garnet Falls. Haha.

    2
  5. Conga

    Whoever gets it must put one of those “It’s a Hemi!” decals on it!

    1
  6. Carey Hill

    had a 15ts sport coupe… great car!

    1
  7. Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

    Better than the root beer brown one I was offered a few years back, rusting into a cow pasture in Tennessee along with a couple LeCar and Peuguots. I’ll keep my mint-on-the-card Matchbox toy, thank you. The pinholes are code for “metal hasn’t flaked off completely yet!”

    1
  8. SteveZ1

    I’ve not seen this car in person but I have met the owner. He’s not only super nice, passionate, but an artisan.

    I am sure the car is a great place to start for a truly nice restoration without the difficult part of getting her running and getting the basics dialed in.

    How do I know like all those who have commented I had a 76 R17 Gordini softtop growing up and while it was not the easiest car to keep running, I made more friends and great memories than I can recall and ironically more today.

    Today I have a 73, 74 and a 75 R17Gordini’s.

    I have had so much fun with these cars it’s been worth all the time and energy bringing them back.

    If you bid on this car you will have access to a small but passionate group here in the states and a very passionate group in France that can also help.

    Best of luck to whomever wins this car!!

    Steve

    4

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