The Renault Sport Spider, launched in 1995, is a unique model that remains in the memories and hearts of all sports car enthusiasts. Responsiveness, performance, agility: the Spider already summed up the quintessential DNA of Renault Sport, both in its exceptional road performance and in the way it was developed at the time.
With 6 consecutive Formula 1® engine titles starting in 1992, the context was favourable to Renault Sport. The sports car market was in great shape at the time. But nobody expected a generalist manufacturer like Renault to launch such a radical car.
Geneva Motor Show 1995: Renault made the news when it unveiled a major model in the history of the brand and of automobiles in general. The Renault Sport Spider caused a huge stir with its radical two-seater tray concept promising single-seater sensations, right in the middle of Renault’s heyday years as a Formula 1 engine manufacturer.
The Spider was an opportunity to show the company's creativity in a way that was more than just an idea. It was a great story, with great team spirit. We wanted a vehicle that was easy to build and with perfect ground links. It combined passion and reason, sport, escape and freedom. The Spider, so unreasonable in its features, was just as reasonable in its pricing or high-tech features. It became a touch of madness that was within reach of the greatest possible number. The use that could be made of it was marvellous.
The development of this model was both ultra-fast (about fifteen months!) and totally atypical, like the development of a race car, with a very strong team spirit. What’s more, it would keep its pre-project code name even after its approval by Louis Schweitzer, Renault’s boss: W94. The aim was to offer driving pleasure and sensations comparable to a motorbike, but on 4 wheels. Jean Coquery was in charge of the specifications and it was Claude Fior, who had developed the single-seater Renault Campus, who looked after the development of the car, with the prestigious racing cars of his garage as references. The first test model was driven in mid-1994 on the Nogaro circuit, the test track of Fior Technologie, "self-taught and mechanical genius, a skilled driver, working in an old-fashioned workshop," says Didier Deffrasnes, head of the development project.
“The Mosaic pathfinder project for lightweighting was an important part of the development. We gained access to Renault’s test bench for many of the car’s components, built on an extruded aluminium chassis made by the Hydro-Aluminium specialist in Denmark and fitted with a composite body.” As a result, the Spider was very light (930 kg), which allowed its 150 hp Mégane Coupé engine in central and propulsion position to offer excellent performance (6.9 secs from 0 to 100 km/h) and first-class sensations, with its rigid and safe chassis and double wishbone suspension close to a race car’s. “A Spider comes alive on small roads," says Didier. “It’s a very communicative car, holding the road, with an accurate and reasonable steering effort and a surprisingly comfortable ride. I’ve had a lot of fun with it!”
Under the leadership of Patrick le Quément, Benoît Jacob’s proposal was chosen for the design of the car. A very pure design, without aggressiveness, which really stood out thanks to its aeroscreen (a version with a windscreen was launched later), its beetle-wing doors and its interior, leaving the aluminium of its chassis to take pride of place. A veritable concept car in motion.
Hand production was entrusted to the Alpine factory in Dieppe at the rate of 4 cars per day. A total of 1,664 road cars + 90 Trophy versions were built between the end of 1995 and 1999, including 438 without windscreens. The Trophy version was the ideal car for a spectacular specially-designed promotional race opening for the Formula 1® Grand Prix. The road versions were a great success in many markets, even in Japan, where there are very active clubs, a symbol of the passion for this fun model.
The Spider is the foundation stone of Renault Sport's range of vehicles, a concentration of all their DNA. It’s a model that’s as symbolic as it is iconic, which sums up in its own right the driving pleasure distilled by our cars. I'm very happy that we can bring together so many Spiders and their enthusiastic owners to celebrate this wonderful anniversary during a major R.S. Days event at Le Castellet.
The 25th anniversary of the Renault Sport Spider will be celebrated by the community of Renault Sport Cars customers and motor sport enthusiasts gathered at the R.S. Days France on the Paul Ricard circuit in Le Castellet on 3 and 4 October. A once-in-a-lifetime gathering, where the first 25 owners registered with their Spider will be given a place of honour among a hundred or so Renault Sport model collectors. A special exhibition area will be dedicated to the Spider, with a "guest star", a Trophy version developed specifically for racing.
View the technical specifications of the Renault Spider: