Renault 8 Gordini

Renault 8 Gordini


Italian-born designer Amédée Gordini was known as “Le Sorcier” (“The Wizard”) for his work race-tuning engines for Simca in the late 1940s and early 1950s. When Simca closed its racing department in 1956, he moved to Renault and the result was a match made in heaven. His work on the Renault 8 transformed a dependable street car into an outstanding competitive race car that was soon nicknamed “La Gorde”.

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In September 1964, the first R8 Gordini went on show at the Salon de l’Auto in Paris. The Type R1134 was instantly iconic with its “Bleu de France” colour set off by a parallel double band of white running from front to rear on the driver’s side. The engine was now a four-cylinder 1100cc engine with a new cylinder head and twin Solex carburettors producing 80hp at 6500rpm and a top speed of 170km/hr, remarkable for its time. This racing DNA was to continue into the 1966 model, whose major distinguishing feature was its dual headlamps.

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A press release of 1964 made the aim of Renault CEO Pierre Dreyfus very clear in developing the new car: “The Renault 8 Gordini must allow a whole clientele of enthusiasts and sports driving enthusiasts to satisfy their passion without having to invest more than the price of a mass-produced car.”

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The R8’s chassis was stiffened with improvements to the front crossbar and rear engine support, and reinforced front suspension wishbones. Most notably, shorter springs and twin shocks at the rear dramatically improved handling. A more direct steering rack, with 3.25 turns between stops, was another major improvement. The 1966 model was tweaked even further, with stronger wheel arches and other chassis strengthening, while the door and rear numbers were lightened.

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The 1966 R8 Gordini was boosted with a 1255cc engine with twin Weber 40DCOEs. With a five-speed gearbox, it developed 88hp at 6500 rpm and a resulting top speed of 175 km/h. A second small fuel tank at the front also helped balance the handling in the 1966 model, toggled by a small tap between the front seats. The combination of great balance from the chassis and remarkable power made for a car that was to dominate motorsport for years to come.

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Inside, the R8 Gordini had a businesslike dash with twin speedo and tacho clocks, as well as a temperature gauge and brake fluid gauge – also innovative for its time. Other nice touches were a passenger grip, tilt-adjustable front seats (with black leather optional), two-speed heater, prewiring for fog lights, and laminated windscreen – all for a very affordable price of 11,500 FF. A whole generation of young French drivers were to settle into that cockpit to race in the Coupe Renault 8 Gordini, that also launched in 1966, before often going on to even greater things.

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The tiny “Gorde” with its RWD, rear engine layout proved perfect for the bumpy twisting roads of rallies such as the Tour de Corse. In 1965, the R8 Gordini even beat a works Alpine A110, and in 1967 it won the San Remo in Italy. The car was still competitive in the 1970 Monte Carlo Rally and it took the likes of the Porsche 911s, which had more than twice its horsepower, to beat it.

Renault 8 Gordini
Renault 8 Gordini

Technical Specificities

  • 1108cc Engine
  • 170 km/hr Max Speed

See all technical specifications

Technical Specificities

Technical specifications

Renault 8 Gordini

Engine 4 cylinders, 1108cc
Transmission 4-speed gearbox plus reverse, rear-wheel drive
Dimensions 3.99m (l) x 1.49m (w)
Max speed 170km/hr