Hello! I don't have my own car right now, so these pages are a sort of retrospective on my five years of performance cars. I live right in the city centre now and share a basic Mk2 Clio with my other half, but intend to buy something interesting as soon as we get a place with a yard / garage again.
These pages were originally about my Clio Williams and Clio 16V and they're worth a read if you're keen on buying one or want to know a bit more about the cars. I used to own both, but moved on to a Fiat Coupe 20V Turbo, a Ph2 Clio 172 and then back to another (tuned) Fiat Coupe 20V Turbo.
Page 1 is really a history of the hot versions of the Mk1 Clio, while the rest are about each of the cars I've owned. Happy reading!
Twenty-five years of extremely hot Renault hatches: Clio V6 Mk1 with the Renault 5 Turbo 1
A lot of myth and pub chatter surrounds the Clio Williams in particular, so here's as proper and authoritative a history as I can muster.
The Clio replaced the supermini sized Renault 5 range in Europe during late 1990 and was introduced to the UK mid-1991. Of course, we're interested in the hot models...
Renault's 5 GT Turbo had enjoyed a reputation for giant-slaying and so its spawn - the Clio 16V - had a lot to live up to. Some saw the Clio 16V as a maiden mistress to the GT Turbo's place in the "oldest profession" - it was a very different car. Nonetheless, the Clio 16V was here to stay and began to rack up the critical acclaim of the motoring press.
My old Clio 16V (Phase II)
The Clio 16V was substantially developed over the base car. Just as with the latter-day Clio 172/Cup, responsibility for creating the original Clio hot hatch was handed over to Renault Sport. They began in earnest by shoehorning the 1764cc twin-cam 16 valve unit (F7P) from the Renault 19 16V into the Clio's rather modestly sized engine bay. It was a bit of a squeeze, so the throttle body housing was shortened and the Clio 16V's distinctive bonnet bulge was added to allow clearence for the inlet manifold. It got very hot under the bonnet, so the air vent was added at the top of the bonnet (just above the exhaust manifold) and the standard Clio cooling system was re-designed. All that hard work was worth it though, since with 137bhp, power all the way to a 7300rpm rev limit and only 975kg to carry - the Clio 16V was destined to be a scream...
The rally-going Clio Maxi - still holding records as fastest FWD car on many tarmac stages
The suspension set up was the familiar French strut at front and torsion bar at rear arrangement. The Clio 16V got the hot treatmeant with a new four-bar torsion set up at the back, a healthy 35mm drop and significantly wider tracks (hence the wider arches, front and rear). Other modifications included sports seats, oil temperature/pressure/level gauges, large disc brakes all round and appropriately uprated transmission and auxillary systems.
What the buying public got was a hot hatch capable of 0-60 in 7.3 secs, 30-70 in 7.1 secs, a 50-70 in 5th of 8.9 secs and a top speed of 130mph (Autocar, November 11th 1991). Even by today's mega-hatch standards, that is a quick car.
The 16V was the car from which the Clio Williams was developed. A common myth is that the Williams was developed by Williams F1 Engineering - it was not. The name was actually used to celebrate the Williams-Renault F1 victories of the time. The car was actually developed as the most successful and advanced FWD rally car of its day. Incidentally, Frank Williams owns Williams No. 0001 - a gift from Renault which sits at Williams' premises with delivery miles on the clock:
Williams No. 0001 at Williams F1 Engineering's premises
Renault had been successfully using the 1764cc F7P engine from the Clio 16V in the FIA World Rally Championship Group A Clio rally car. In the hands of their top man Jean Ragnotti, the 16V-powered Clio works car was estimated to be about 1.5 seconds per mile faster than the legendary Group B 5 Maxi Turbo - despite a massive power disadvantage, such was the pace of progress. Not resting on their laurels, Renault spotted that rally regulations would allow another few cc's of engine capacity on top of the 16V's capacity - and the homologated Clio 16V was only 1764cc (200cc from the class 2000cc limit). In 1993, Renault decided to homologate a 2.0-powered (F7R) Clio so they could utilise the crucial extra cc's in their rally expolits.
The resulting homologation car was the Williams - an initial batch of 400 individually numbered RHD cars made in all. Modifications over the 16V base car were mainly to the suspension, engine, transmission and minor cosmetics (detailed below). The first batch eventually extended to some 3000 cars in all (mostly LHD), of which some 500 were called "Swiss Champion" for the Swiss market.
Extraordinary demand led to the production of further cars, called the Williams 2 and 3 each respectively another year or so later.
My old Williams, No. 123
Williams: The original homologation special, 400 RHD cars, numbered individually and made in late 1993. The original edition was based on the Phase1 Clio 16V, with the various modifications basically concentrated on making the best hot hatch of the day an even more fitting home for the new Group A/N rallying 2.0 F7R engine. The Willy also wore that unmistakable trademark 449 Sports Blue bodywork and gold/silver rimmed Speeline wheels, with wider tracks filling the 16V's already pumped-up arches and sporting a larger rear lip spoiler. The distinguishing features over the Williams 2 and 3 are the Phase1 exterior/interior trim ("retro" would be kind ), lack of sunroof/electric mirrors/ABS/basic sound system. None of the three editions have any mechanical differences worth mentioning.
Williams 2: Such was the amazing public and press reception for the original Williams (see http://www.cliosport.net/articles/williams-2.asp), that Renault produced a second batch of Willies in 1994: much to the anger of the original Williams owners. Still, with numbers of RHD cars at less than 400, these are again very rare. These were also Phase2 cars, which in line with the general Clio range are smoother-looking and more soundproofed cars - see elsewhere for details. The Willy 2 gained some of the refinements of the Clio 16V lost on the original Williams, such as electric mirrors. Still no sunroof or ABS and still 449 Sports Blue in colour.
Williams 3: Renault again gave in to the pressure and produced a final edition in 1995. These cars were again limited to under 400 RHD examples and were Phase2 models. They are distinguished by their Monaco Blue pearlescent paintwork (shared with the Clio 16V), which is a lighter colour than the 449 Sports Blue. These final editions came with an electric sunroof as standard, with ABS as standard (I think, or at least a very popular option).