A modern take on a Rally Icon, the R5 Turbo 3 is a car conceived by enthusiasts, for enthusiastsby Khris Bharath, on LISTEN 09:05
The trend of Retro modding has really taken off over the past few years. It was only last week that we got you a story on the Gemballa Marsien, designed by Alan Derosier. Well, Alan has now worked his magic on yet another icon. This car is one of the most celebrated Class B rally cars of not just the ’80s, but of all time. The Renault R5 Turbo. Renault themselves are yet to give us a successor to the Turbo 2 from the 80s. However, until that happens, Alan has co-founded his company, Legende Automobiles to give us the unofficial successor to that 80s rally icon. Feast your eyes on the R5 Turbo 3.
Brief History of the R5 Turbo
Back in the ’80s the original Renault 5 was your typical economy hatchback and it wasn’t the most exciting car around, that is until the French carmaker went on to make a Turbo 1 homologation edition as they wanted to take it rallying. It was a completely different beast. In fact, it was the most powerful French car at the time.
One of the most significant aspects of the Turbo 1 was that this hot hatch had ditched the regular car’s front-engined, front-wheel-drive configuration in favor of a mid-engined 160 horsepower, rear-wheel-drive setup.
The car that Renault ended up making was even faster than some Ferraris of the time.
The roof, doors, and tailgate were all made from lightweight aluminum. The design was conceived by none other than the great Marcello Gandini. The Turbo 1 was in fact one of the most exciting and desirable hot-hatches of its time, however, Renault positioned the car in a price bracket that although cheaper than a Ferrari was inaccessible to the average person.
Its successor, the more popular R5 Turbo 2 however did address that problem. It was more affordable and it was built in greater numbers. Although it didn’t feel as distinctive as the original, the Turbo 2 was still a fantastic little hot hatch with the same 160 horsepower engine. It had slightly lesser torque 155 foot-pounds vs 163 foot-pounds and gained quite a bit of weight, 2138 lbs vs 1984 lbs. And this was even after replacing many of the light-alloy parts. The raucous and exuberant 5 Turbo had two revisions in its brief existence, and this is – unofficially – the third one.
The story of Legende Automobiles
Alan Derosier is a French-born car designer, who relocated to Los Angeles from Shanghai back in 2018. Alan is a Porsche lover. You really do have to see some of his sketches of what a modern 908 would look like to really appreciate his talents. After his move to LA, he almost immediately fell in love with the custom car culture in the city and wanted to get in on the action himself.
Being a Porsche fanatic, his goal initially was to recreate and build old Porsches, similar to those made by the likes of Singer, Rod Emory, Guntherwerks, and Canepa. However, Alan realized that the Porsche scene has been covered extensively. So he instead decided to reincarnate another one of his childhood favorites, the Renault 5 Turbo.
And so with that, Alan began sketching concepts based on the R5 Turbo and he shared a couple of these renders on social media. To his surprise, it drew a lot of attention. The CGI was done by Steffen Hess.
These sketches caught the attention of one Mr.Charley Bompas, a fellow Frenchman who is also based in Los Angeles. Bompas is a former car stuntman who also co-owns SoCal Frenchiez, a Classic Car Restoration shop. He adored Alan’s new concept of this Rally Icon, and the two of them agreed to collaborate and produce a limited number of cars.
Alexander Decleves, who also happens to be French is Charly’s partner at Socal Frenchiez, is an extraordinarily gifted Mechanical Engineer. Decleves was just as smitten by Alan’s concept as Charley, and it didn’t require much persuasion for him to get on board.
Pierre Chaveyriat, the proprietor of BloodMotorsport and a race car manufacturer, was the final missing piece in this French puzzle. Pierre is a racing nerd who pretty much knows just about everything there is to understand about the sport. He was charged with creating a completely new chassis to ensure the 80s icon held up even better than its older siblings.
Not only did these passionate Frenchmen want to pay tribute to this rally icon’s heritage, but they also wanted to show some love and respect for the city of Los Angeles, a city that had inspired them to go ahead with this project in the first place, and the group, therefore, christened their new venture; Legende Automobiles, or simply, L.A.
The R5 Turbo 3
According to Legend Automobiles, the concept for the Turbo 3 was pretty straightforward; for anyone who saw the car, it had to be instantly identifiable as an R5 Turbo. However, if they looked closer, it would become apparent that they’re looking at something truly special that is one-of-a-kind.
L.A. adds that the Turbo 5 was a fantastic car and was unquestionably good value for money, but they couldn't help but wonder - “What if there were no compromises?" What if we took the greatest parts of both automobiles and solely used technology to improve the car's electrics and weight?”
One thing led to another and before they knew it, they reached a point of no return, and with that, the group embarked on a journey to build the best possible replica of the R5 Turbo that has ever been made.
The entire body is handcrafted from carbon fiber. Upfront, new LED headlamp units are mounted to a single-piece frame, minimizing the number of components on the front, which ends up giving the car, a timeless appearance. The rear side glass is also framed in carbon fiber, and custom air curtains have been integrated into the C pillars. An extended rear wing on the roof, along with a lightweight structure has been fabricated tastefully, minimizing the use of materials.
L.A. has also completely overhauled the tail lights with state-of-the-art LED technology in keeping with their intent of using tech, solely for the electrics or materials used on the car. This gave them the opportunity to add their own distinct touch to an already legendary rear end. A custom two-piece diffuser with handmade dual square exhaust tips finishes off the rear. The car sits atop custom 16x8-inch rims up front and 17x11-inch at the rear.
The interior is also bang up to date with a pair of bucket seats along with racing harnesses to go with it. The dash might appear spartan, but you’ve got the basics like the sporty two-spoke steering with a digital instrument panel, climate controls and you can’t miss the manual shifter that sticks out. It is tall and should fall into the hand perfectly, for those quick shifts. Also, notice the hoops instead of door handles and the roll cage that goes around the cabin. The Turbo 3, is a serious bit of kit.
The Turbo 3 is built on an original 3-door R5, although the car now has the latest version of the front and rear Maxi Turbo double-wishbone geometry. This makes the car even wider and will in turn make it more potent than its predecessors. The car, with improved traction, will have the ability to handle the 400 horsepower from its four-cylinder turbo engine.
Legende maintains that over the years, technology has given the car world many wonderful things, however, it has also removed the tactile experience that enthusiasts miss from modern cars. And I agree with their view here. For instance, Sequential gearboxes with paddle shifters have their uses, although, with the Turbo 3, LA went for an old-school mechanical shifter to allow the driver to be in complete control of how and when those 400 horses are deployed.
In the creation of the R5 Turbo 3, Legende has left no stone unturned. They disregarded all budgetary advice and went for it. This new startup went to great lengths to ensure that their new creation is the best possible rendition of this B-segment icon.
Legende says that this car was a dream come true for them. They developed and imagined it with a fanatical amount of attention to detail, using the best possible materials and their concept idea was put together by some of the world’s most accomplished craftspeople.
They came up with something that is unapologetically uncompromised as a result. Their R5 Turbo 3 is a car built by enthusiasts for enthusiasts. It is indeed a machine that would even make an adult giggle like a child when they get behind the wheel of this machine.