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Renault 8: Buying guide and review (1962-1973)

Renault 8: Buying guide and review (1962-1973) Classic and Performance Car
Renault 8 Renault 8 Renault 8 Renault 8 Renault 8 Renault 8
Introduced in 1962, the Renault 8 eschewed the swoopy rounded looks of its predecessor, the lovable Dauphine, for a more fashionable angular look. Underneath its chiselled new skin though, its basic architecture remained very close to the Dauphine – retaining the rear-engined layout. The R8 did introduce some innovations, including all-wheel disc brakes, and the option of an automatic gearbox, which at the time was unusual for a car of this class. 
The introduction of the performance focussed R8 Gordini kick-started a trend of hotted-up Renaults that has continued to this day. Updated engines and running gear for the rest of the R8 range including the more luxurious R10 variants kept demand high through the production run, and it sold in massive numbers. 
In usual French tradition the Renault 8 also continued to be built, under licence, in various countries around the world long after official production in France had ceased. Winning a number of European rallies gained the R8 an enviable reputation for performance and reliability, making a well-maintained (and mildly tuned) example is a great useable classic today.
Which one to buy?
The Renault 8 range features a single bodystyle, the four-door saloon, but there’s a fair amount of different versions and spec to choose from. While automatic gearboxes were available, the vast majority today are manuals, while more powerful engines were introduced throughout the production run. 
Early models came with a smooth 43bhp 956cc engine, and the introduction of a larger 1.1-litre option in 1964 increased power output by 6bhp. The facelifted 8S added a further 10bhp to this total, as well as a more appealing updated interior. While these were all great little cars, most people gravitate towards the more sporting Gordini models.
The first of the Gordinis was introduced in 1964 with a heavily modified twin-carb 1.1-litre engine, developing a pokey 89bhp. Twin rear shocks, uprated close-ratio gearbox and numerous performance enhancements also improved things massively. This was a Renault aimed squarely at the sports car market.
In 1967 the entire model range received a substantial facelift, seeing the Gordini’s power output swell to an enlarged 99bhp, thanks to a 1.3-litre power plant. The rear-engined, rear wheel drive chassis could prove tricky at the limit and this was especially the case with the Gordini’s.
Thanks to the interchangeability of parts, a large number of surviving cars may have been modified, with a common modification to install more powerful engines, or build full-on Gordini-style replicas. Check over all documentation and service histories to ensure that the car has been well maintained over the years, and that it isn’t a standard model posing as one of the more desirable variants.
The Renault 8S was a sportier version of the standard car with a bit more power and the same larger twin headlights of the Gordini. Later models received uprated gearboxes and the automatic versions are best left alone due to parts scarcity.
There are precious few good condition Renault 8s out there, so being too picky is generally not an option today. Gordinis tend to pop up from time to time at auctions or specialists, while more mainstream versions can be found online or through the Renault car club.
Performance and specs

Renault 8 Gordini 1300
Engine 1255cc, 8valve OHV in-line four-cylinder
Power 99bhp @ 6750rpm 
Torque 86lb ft @ 5000rpm
Top speed 108mph 
0-60mph 10.9 seconds 
Fuel consumption 30mpg 
Gearbox Five-speed manual
Dimensions and weight

Wheelbase 2273mm
Length 3988mm
Width 1486mm
Height 1308mm
Curb weight 850kg
Common problems
• Rust is an ever present issue and while great strides were made to improve on the abysmal corrosion that beset the Dauphine, it is essential that all the usual trouble spots should be checked. This includes the front and rear footwells, all arches, bottom of door sills and around the hinges. A rusted through body shell can make restoration unfeasible.

• Most engines are robust, and many owners will have upgraded or replaced the original motors, especially in the standard versions. This means that a thorough check over by a specialist is usually worth carrying out, as it will ensure that any conversion work has been done properly

• Most parts can be found through specialists and clubs, and there is a lot of specialist knowledge surrounding the modification scene for these cars should you be looking to build a rally car. 

• Disc Brakes were standard all-round, however some versions of the Renault 8 built outside of France were fitted with drum brakes. Both systems work well enough however.

• Gearboxes were improved throughout production, with a three- and four-speed ‘box for the standard cars and 1100 Gordini and a five-speed box for the 1300 Gordini. Watch out for crunching second gears as this can indicate an abused transmission and damaged synchros.
Model history
1962: Renault 8 introduced with 956cc 43bhp, inline four-cylinder engine.
1963: Semi-automatic transmission introduced as an option
1964: Renault 8 Major introduced with more powerful 1108cc 49bhp engine. Performance Gordini model introduced with 89bhp 1.1-litre engine. Gordini models feature close-ratio four-speed gearbox, uprated suspension and unique blue on white paintwork
1965: 8 Major replaced by 10 Major, which featured more luxurious interior and redesigned front and rear body panels
1967: Major revisions to entire Renault 8 range. R8 Gordini received quad headlights and uprated to 1255cc engine producing 99bhp. Renault 8 Major reintroduced as basic model, and 8S introduced as sporty variant with 59bhp 1.1L engine
1973: Renault 8 production ends in France
1976: Global production of Renault 8 ends
Owners clubs, forums and websites
• renaultccc.proboards.com
• www.renaultownersclub.org.uk
Summary and prices
Original mint condition Gordinis are very rare, and are commanding up to £30,000 in today’s market. There are a fair few replicas out there though, which generally sell for a fraction of that value. Obviously, a replica’s collectability and potential future value will not be in the same league, but it can offer good value for money.
A standard, unmolested early or face lifted Renault 8 can be found for between £2500-£5000. Buying cheap is generally not a good idea, as the time and effort to effect a proper restoration can easily outstrip the cheaper purchase price.
Words: John Tallodi
Renault 8 Renault 8 Renault 8 Renault 8 Renault 8 Renault 8
Last updated: 12th Jan 2016
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Renault 8
19995 19995 GBP
  • Renault 8

    £19,995 £19,995

    *SIMILAR QUALITY CARS ALWAYS REQUIRED* SOLD Thinking of selling? Our proven commission sale or SOR (Sale or Return) program is a great way to utilise and access our professional services and facilities while still maximising the return from your vehicle with minimal hassle, stress and time, If you’d like to take advantage of this then please get in touch for further information. Alternatively If you’d like to move your vehicle on quickly and efficiently with minimal delay then we can make an offer on an outright purchase basis with payment and collection arranged soon after. A genuine RHD Renault 8 Gordini R1134 with racing pedigree. EQUIPMENT Reinforced seam welded Gordini R8 body, GRP Group 2 wings, front number plate cooling conversion, rear LED wet weather light, front and rear tow hooks, Safety Devices roll cage, Sparco Pro2000 race seat, Sabelt harnesses, side protection bars, Elliot Design electronic tachometer, FIA battery master switch, electric cooling fan with manual override and LED ‘on’ light, plumbed in fire extinguisher system, oil pressure gauge, water temperature gauge X2, Motolita steering wheel. EXTERIOR This very rare and immaculate car is well known in Classic Renault circles and is finished in the only colour available for the R8 Gordini, Bleu de France, (Code 418). Acquired by respected R8 guru, Steve Swan in 2001 this genuine Gordini was fully restored in 2002 with photos revealing the incredible attention to detail. Such is the quality of this example and the subsequent development work that it is used as a platform by which others attempt to mimic. Structural integrity and weight saving measures are displayed throughout every inch of this car without detracting from the original R8 Gordini design. Epic and immense fun. INTERIOR Being suitable for a range of competition events from reliability trials to hillclimbs the cockpit of this successful machine is focused completely on the driver. Race proven technology in the form of seating, safety, controls and gauges all make reassuring assertions that should the pilote wish, driving at speed and on the limit will be rewarding rather than daring. The factory Renault Gordini seating has been retained and fully upholstered to original specification should a more passenger friendly environment be required. Even unique Gordini items such as the passenger grab handle have been kept. Previous MSA scrutineer pass cards are a testament to the quality of workmanship. Utterly exhilarating. ENGINE & TRANSMISSION The Cleon based full race spec engine has a displacement of 1550cc and was dyno tested by Agra in Dundee producing 169bhp at 7500rpm. A brief outline of the engine specification: Tufftrided shot peened balanced crank, lightened and balanced Cat Cam, Arrows steel Followers, forged pistons, steel liners, Salv Sacco big valve head and manifold, Twin Weber 45 DCOE with Lumenition ignition, pressurised engine pre-lube system. This vehicle is fitted with Steve Swan’s own Big Box 16TX CWP Big Box conversion featuring close ratio 365 gears which have been Tufftrided. 4th gear runs on needle rollers for continuous high speed operation. An internal gearstick bracket copied from works cars can be adjusted so that on certain events when fifth gear is not needed it prevents the driver getting top gear by accident in the heat of battle. An uprated Sachs Group 2 clutch is fitted and a Quaife ATB differential and competition type solid centre universal joints. WHEELS, TYRES, BRAKES & SUSPENSION Mad’in Modele 1C Renault Alpine Wheels 6X13 are unmarked with a mirror polished edge and are shod in Yokohama Advan AO48 185/60 R13 rear and 175/60/R13 front tyres. Powerful 254mm vented discs front and rear with AP Racing brake proportioning valve fully adjustable and aeroquipped front to rear. Fully adjustable front and rear suspension with Koni and Leda dampers. The front anti roll bar and rear Z bar is adjustable with 2.5” coil spring conversion plates with both cross members reinforced to Gordini specification. HISTORY FILE This Renault 8 Gordini was registered new on 22nd May 1965 by Renault Main Dealers, Harrowside Motors of Blackpool. Used by the Managing Director until Mr John Woodward Clarke purchased the car from them on the 14th September 1966. The accompanying invoice reveals the details of the vehicle and the total purchase price being £700. The buff green card log book combined with every subsequent V5 issued reveals the total number of owners being just five including the Dealer. Correspondence between Mr Clarkes son and the third owner, Mr Paul Fraser Sage, reveals a fascinating history of care and devotion until relinquishing ownership in 1989. The current long term custodian since 2001, Mr Steven Swan, is highly respected in the Classic Renault Owners Club and is responsible for this amazing R1134 transformation with noteworthy success in circuit racing, sprints and hillclimbs with the added benefit of being completely road legal too! Footage of the car at Knockhill Racing Circuit can be seen here: https://youtu.be/qknU71E4Yms and at Forrestburn Hillclimb here: https://youtu.be/cGt6ow10hnw An immense history file reveals the colossal spend in creating one of the most sought after R8 Gordinis and now available on the open market for a very lucky individual. MOT August 2017, HPI Clear. To see a video of this car please click on the link below: https://youtu.be/3r8fy-PiHOU To see a complete set of photographs of this car please click on the link below: https://flic.kr/s/aHskKfyTQj 'Like us' or 'Follow us' for exciting new cars coming soon at KGF Classic Cars: https://www.facebook.com/KGFClassiccars https://twitter.com/KGFClassicCars

    • Mileage: 20176 mi
    • Engine size: 1.5
    For sale
    £19,995 £19,995
    KGF Classic Cars
    01733425140 View contact number