Words & photos - Daniel Bevis
The Renault 17 and its twin, the 15, were effectively coupé variants of the funky 12 saloon. The main differences between the two lay in their headlights and side windows; the 15 had rectangular lamps and big windows, whereas the racier 17 had quad lights and jazzily curtailed glass complemented by huge triangular faux-vent things. The 1970s were weird, weren't they?
Renault took the platform eagerly into motorsport too, ever enthusiastic to get their hands dirty and chase a few chequered flags. The 17, prepared to Group 5 specs, competed in rallies from 1972-75, becoming he first Renault model to win a round of the World Rally Championship. The factory built fourteen cars like this in all, and the one you see here is the final and most successful one. Its 1.8-litre engine produces an effervescent 185bhp and, thanks to extensive use of aluminium, the Group 5 17 only weighs 820kg, so the performance is just as edgy as you'd hope for. And it looks magnificent too, doesn't it? Now part of Renault's Heritage collection, it's concours-pristine in its period livery, with those wide arch extensions and oh-so-retro Gotti split-rims. A rather obscure and very cool slice of French motorsport history.
Spotted at the 2015 FoS - more pics here.