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Automotive 1980s: R11 turbo, Renault’s anti-Golf GTI


In 1977, Renault will digest the flop of the R14 by designing no less than two cars on the same chassis. Robert Opron, formerly of Citroën, joined the style department and found himself overseeing the L42 project.

In 1982, it was the release of the R9 / R11 couple; a classic three-box sedan and a hatchback. In 1983, Renault extended the range upwards and presented the Renault 11 Turbo, only as a 3-door coach.

Light alloy wheels, stripping on the sides, grille with double headlights are part of the signature, as are the specific front and rear bumpers.

Le Cléon fonte at the service

To power the 11 Turbo, Renault will use an old classic already seen on the R 5 Alpine Turbo: the cast iron Cléon increased to 1,397 cm3 and stuffed with a Garrett T2 turbo.

The turbo is air-cooled and blows at 0.7 bar. It is placed upstream of the Solex 32 DIS carburettor and the ignition is fully electronic. The 11 Turbo boasts a rather furious 105 hp.

The 0 to 100 km/h is swallowed in 9.3 seconds and the top speed reaches 190 km/h. In 1985, the 3-door version was joined by a 5-door that was just as playful but more accessible for the father.





The only R 11 Turbo that was the property of the National Gendarmerie Intervention Group. It never received the “gendarmerie” blue paint. Photo DR

An R 11 for the GIGN

The performances encourage the Gendarmerie to acquire an 11 Turbo; it will do its service with the GIGN and will keep its metallic gray livery. In May 1985, the limited “Zender” series appeared, designed in partnership with the German tuner on the basis of the 3-door R11.

This R11 Turbo receives not only a body kit, but also a 4-bar rear axle of the same type as the R5 GT Turbo.

It is equipped with 4 Zender alloy wheels in 15 inches. A spoiler is fitted at the front and the rear spoiler is enlarged. The power remains the same.

In May 1985, appears the limited series “Zender”



Simplification to the extreme for phase 2 which recovers the rims of the R 9 Turbo.  Exit the double headlights;  the front side is almost identical to the cousin.  Photo DR

Simplification to the extreme for phase 2 which recovers the rims of the R 9 Turbo. Exit the double headlights; the front side is almost identical to the cousin. Photo DR

Restyling in 1986

In 1986, the restyling of the 11 Turbo was accompanied by an evolution of the front with the abandonment of the double headlights. Under the hood, the turbo is water-cooled and the engine gains 10 horsepower. 115 hp is better, but the car is sharper.

Phase 2 gains 4 disc brakes and recovers the alloy rims of the R9 phase 1. At that time, Pierre Ferry, another mechanical wizard, offers a kit which allows to gain a few more horsepower to reach 200 km/h and the 0 to 100 in 7.8 seconds: increased turbo pressure, modified and reinforced brakes, 15-inch Rial rims. About twenty kits would have been assembled.



The R 11 turbo still participates in competition.  While some models have kept the 1.4-litre Cléon cast iron, it is sometimes replaced by a 2-litre, with upgraded gearboxes or other specific improvements.  Photo DR

The R 11 turbo still participates in competition. While some models have kept the 1.4-litre Cléon cast iron, it is sometimes replaced by a 2-litre, with upgraded gearboxes or other specific improvements. Photo DR

The R11 at rally speed

From 1984, the R 11 Turbo scoured rallies with Alain Oreille at the wheel. The car has a rigorous chassis and the car is reliable. Out of 32 participations in rallies (French championship, Tour de Corse, Monte Carlo) the R 11 Turbo finished 26!

From 1987, the 11 Turbo became Renault’s spearhead in rallying after the discontinuation of Group B. A lot of work was done to improve engine power and adapt the gearbox for competition.

A 180 horsepower kit is offered for sale by Renault Sport. The car is racing in Group A, notably with Jean Ragnotti, who will perform miracles at the wheel.



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