Welcome back to Forgotten Sporty Cars at The Garage! In this space we recall an era where small, economy car-based based vehicles were sold with zippy styling. Whether there was any substance to the sizzle weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll leave for you to judge.
1982-1985 Renault Fuego
We’re on a roll with Renaults, but after TG’s last look at the GTA and today’s Fuego, it is a short run. While the GTA was built in America as a limited edition, higher performance Alliance, the Fuego took a different route. Made in France, based on the 18i sedan (sold in N.A. from ’81-’82) and 18i Sportwagon (sold from ’81-’86), the Fuego had a body all its own.
And it was hard not to mistake the Fuego for a French car. Designer Robert Opron penned the Maserati-powered Citroen SM, as well as other Citroens. From ’82-’83, buyers here had a choice of turbo or non-turbo 1.6 liter four cylinder engines. The Fuego Turbo boasted all of 107hp, good for a 0-60mph time of 10 seconds, with a top end of 110mph. At least the aerodynamic body allowed for good fuel economy. In 1984, the 1.6 liter was replaced by a 2.2 liter four.Ã‚Â
In other markets, the Fuego lived a long, successful life. But alas, in North America we had just a glimpse of the Fuego. So, what went wrong? Everything. The appeal of owning a sporty, turbocharged Renault in a relatively affordable package in the early 1980’s held enormous appeal to Formula 1 racing fans, but in the US that was a very small number of people. Worse, the Fuego was being sold by people accustomed to peddling AMC Concords and Jeep CJ-7’s. The same applies for the people at AMC dealers who had to service the cars. Ill-equipped and ill-prepared, the dealers and mechanics didn’t have a chance. Ã‚Â