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Almost Great: RenaultSport Spider

1 year ago

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David Twohig | Engineer


7 March 2023

How can a car with no windscreen be anything but great? When Renault launched the RenaultSport Spider (you have to say it Speeed-errrr, with the appropriately Gallic rolling of the r’s) in 1996, the motoring press got very excited about the potential for wind in your hair, flies in your teeth and gravel being picked out of your face in A&E.

And most thought that the little French fighter was quite cute – a single-sweep-of-the-pencil upturned bathtub shape, something like the very early Audi TT, with even less glasshouse. Lopping the windscreen off and replacing it with a patented wind-deflecting airfoil was a stroke of brave genius. Admittedly, the screenless version was only offered in LHD, Renault presumably assuming that the NHS would be less understanding about the gravel/face interface situation than its local hôpitaux, meaning all UK cars had sensible bug-stoppers fitted as standard.

While we are on the looks of the Spider, it is worth pointing out that most of them were painted in a fabulous deep metallic Sport Yellow over dark grey. Now, this is more significant than you might think. Because this particular shade declares that the car is a RenaultSport – yellow was Renault’s racing colour for many years: the first-ever turbo F1 car, the RS01 ‘teapot’ wore it, as did the Renault-Alpine A442b that won Le Mans in 1978. Various shades of it have been worn by squadrons of hot Clios and Méganes since then.

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