Renault Sport Spider
Renault has always been known for producing slightly bonkers hot hatches. The mad Renault 5 Turbo 2, its baby brother the Clio V6, and more recently the slightly unhinged Megane R26.R are all very focused drivers cars. In 1996 Renault launched it’s most focused car yet, the Spider.
During the 1990s the French company was revelling in the success of its racing programme, most notably that of the Williams Team dominance of Formula 1. The idea to produce a singleminded 2 seater sportscar utilising the 2 Litre 16v engine from the Williams Clio and creating a one make race series to show it off was born. An extruded and welded aluminium chassis, insect-like upwards opening doors, no windscreen (Renault added one later) and no roof meant that the Spider really was a paired down racing car for the road.
If it hadn’t been for those pesky Lotus boys at Hethel whose Elise came out the same year, the Sport Spider might have been the car everyone raves about to this day. It’s not that the Spider lacks the credentials; 0-60 6.3 seconds, 144 bhp, fully independent double wishbone suspension, mid mounted engine etc. It’s just that while the Spider weighed in at 950kg, the similar specced Elise weighed a whopping 170kg less.
Only 1726 Sport Spiders were made in it’s year and a half lifespan and of the around 200 official uk versions imported, a fair few were used as race cars.