Monday, February 27, 2012

1971 Renault R17 - Maybe One Of The Oldest R17s In The US?

This is really interesting. This has to be one of the oldest surviving R17s in North America. Renault introduced the R17 to the world in 1971. I don't think many made the trip to North America that year.

Most of us are familiar with the R17 Gordini, which Renault started producing in 1975. I've owned a couple and have written about them a couple of times. (You can find the posts here and here.) It was, in my mind, the finest car Renault ever sold in the US.

This is an R17. No Gordini name attached to it. It has a smaller engine (1565 cc) than the Gordini (1647 cc). It also didn't come with the truly spectacular electric cloth sunroof. But, it did come with power windows, which were never available on the Gordini.

This car has a lot going for it, besides its rarity. First of all, it has the pre-1973 bumpers. They're pretty much worthless when it comes to protecting the car, but, when compared to the later big bumper cars, they look awesome. Secondly, it appears to be virtually rust free. Like most cars from the 1970s, rust was a huge problem for the R17.

This car is complete and intact, but needs restoration. The seller got it to fire up with some ether, meaning the engine is not seized, but it's not known how well it runs in general.

The big downside to this car is the aftermarket sunroof. They were all the rage in the 1970s and early 1980s, but they look awful and tend to leak. If you're really, really good with a MIG welder and filler, you could probably replace it with metal, but at this point it's probably best just to make it as waterproof as possible and learn to live with it.

This is a really cool and rare car, especially in North American trim. I hope the buyer brings it back to its former glory.

Sadly, by the time this article posts the auction will be over. Still, I thought this car was cool enough and rare enough to post anyway.

Located in Emeryville, CA, click here to see the eBay listing.


I was cleaning out an old desk last week and found this picture. It is of my 1975 R17 Gordini. It's really not a great car picture. I took it because of the temperature sign in the background. It's Christmas (I don't remember the year, maybe 1981) and it's 73 degrees. That doesn't happen often in the Northeast. The guy sticking out of the sunroof is my brother. To the best of my knowledge there are no old pictures of him on the web. There is now. Too bad it's not an embarrassing picture!

Also, I have a pair of perfect 1971 R17 front door panels. (They have no window winder hole). If someone is restoring an early R17 and needs them, make me a reasonable offer, figure out a way to get them, and they're yours.


R1326 said...

Have been following this all week. The 15/17 models were introduced to North America for the 1972 model year, so I was surprised to see it listed as a 1971. Was it a Renault demo, or perhaps it was purchased overseas in 1971? Could even be a DMV misprint. We rarely see the pre-74 cars for sale, so this was very interesting. Thanks for the post and photos of your 17 Gordini.

R1326 said...

Forgot to add that the 17 Gordinis shipped to the US before August/September 1974 with the sunroof were R1323 cars with the 1565cc engine of the 72-73 USA models. Our new 1974 17 Gordini conv. had the 1565cc engine(May '74 delivery) and was much faster than the smogged cars with the 1647cc engines (as I have in my '78/'79 17Gs.)