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SlickDizzy GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
4/18/15 12:19 p.m.

So, those of you who have been on this board for a while know that I love French cars, and I've messed around with a few old Renaults. I always wanted a GTA but I figured they had all disappeared into the sands of time by now, and anything left would be basically junk. I have some project car cash and initially wanted a Starquest or Z31 but struck out finding anything decent. But, life is serendipitous, and after e-mailing for more info after seeing a listing for a "1985 Renault" with almost no info, I had my first barn find.

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1987 GTA convertible. 90k miles. Bought new by a plant manager in Kenosha where they were built, it has never seen salt and apparently has only seen rain once or twice. Dad who bought it pampered it, then gave it to his daughter as a wedding present before passing away, daughter got busy with kids and life so it sat in the garage. For about a decade.

I'm dragging it home tomorrow for a sub-$1000 price and after I detail the heck out of it, change all the fluids and do the timing belt/water pump I intend to hop it up a little bit. At least, I'd like to, but there is NOTHING out there for these cars. Even concrete information is hard to come by.

I intend to do some research to see just how much these share with the Euro Renault 9 and 11; those cars were not exactly loved either, even in their home country, but at least parts and info exist over there. Otherwise I am basically going to be blazing a new trail by trying to fix this thing up and modify it. I might even buy a domain and compile as much info as I can for the sole purpose of creating some kind of future reference for anyone else crazy enough to be into these cars.

So, until I can ascertain the amount of parts sharing with Euro models, what are some universal tricks I could make use of to get this thing moving a little quicker and handling a little better? I'd bet the chassis could use some stiffness, maybe a DIY strut brace setup or some fender arms could help. Lightweight wheels with real modern rubber? Advance the timing? What should I poke at to increase the fun factor of this incredibly rare frog car?

etifosi HalfDork
4/18/15 12:32 p.m.

Sacre bleu!

Those things were obscenely expensive when new.

Neat find, I drove an R10 from AK to PA a few lifetimes ago.

No idea where & what would make it faster....bonne chance!

tr8todd Dork
4/18/15 12:37 p.m.

I think there was a spec racing series back in the 80s for those. Before spec racer Ford, they were renault powered. I'm sure there are some old school SCCA guys that would know.

Gearheadotaku GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
4/18/15 12:38 p.m.

You'll sweep the field at the next Concours De'Lemons! great find.

G_Body_Man HalfDork
4/18/15 12:44 p.m.

Plant Manager in Wisconsin? Was it owned by this guy?

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
4/18/15 1:05 p.m.
tr8todd wrote: I think there was a spec racing series back in the 80s for those. Before spec racer Ford, they were renault powered. I'm sure there are some old school SCCA guys that would know.

There was, a guy in Sacramento had one of those cars for sale last year. Very long time SCCA member, he was, too.

DeadSkunk UltraDork
4/18/15 1:16 p.m.

Those Renault Sports Racers were powered by 100 HP sealed engines. Not much potential there for sourcing speed parts. You might see if there are any Gordini bits that would work, but I'm doubtful.

SlickDizzy GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
4/18/15 1:27 p.m.

The engine is called the F3R and was never used in anything else, anywhere else. Apparently it's kind of a bastardized F-engine using a mishmash of Euro parts, basically a long-stroke diesel block with a gasoline head and injection system. I think the Sports Renaults used the 1.7L version, but I could be wrong. Apparently there is a carbureted version called the F2R that may share some parts. Overseas there were turbo and 16v versions of this engine, so absolute worst case scenario, I could do some kind of swap if the engine pukes.

ssswitch Reader
4/18/15 1:29 p.m.

If you can get some of the original bushings out and measure them with a caliper, Whiteline has a search engine that will let you figure out if maybe some other, more popular, application has the same bushing but in poly or with a harder durometer rubber: http://whiteline.com.au/catsize_bush.php

Wheels at least can't be that hard, google says they're lugcentric 4x100 with a 57.1 centre bore.

DeadSkunk UltraDork
4/18/15 1:29 p.m.

I'd look at the exhaust header and see if something from another vehicle might be made to fit, probably needs a new flange cut and some welding. Otherwise, replace the exhaust system from the header back with a 2.25" or 2.5" custom bent unit. A cold air intake system should be relatively easy to do.

DeadSkunk UltraDork
4/18/15 1:31 p.m.

Would Renault Fuego Turbo bits fit the 2 liter engine? Not easy to find, but then you were the one who bought a Renault.

DeadSkunk UltraDork
4/18/15 1:33 p.m.

The Spec Racers were largely converted to Ford engines with an SCCA supplied kit. You could put a Ford Escort engine in it and ease your speed parts quest.

Jumper K. Balls
Jumper K. Balls UberDork
4/18/15 1:34 p.m.

There is a build on Retrorides of a transplanted british guy in Arizona doing a very low buck build on a GTA. IIRC he has had a fair bit of luck dipping into Jeep parts bins for some of the engine sensors and such.

I feel the perfect recipe for stuff like this is a small turbo like a KO3 at ~7psi, Megasquirt to make it work and parts bin engineer some coilovers using sleeves and decent dampers from another car that could be made to fit.

drdisque Reader
4/18/15 1:39 p.m.

Rock Auto has KYB GR-2 front struts on sale now for $25 each!

Rock Auto actually has a fair amount of replacement parts.

SlickDizzy GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
4/18/15 1:43 p.m.


If anyone is interested, here's a link to possibly the only other person in existence trying to fix one of these up.

Junkyard_Dog SuperDork
4/18/15 1:55 p.m.

Somewhere in my hoard of old Car & Drivers is an article on a pre-GTA with all sorts of RenaultSport hop-ups on it. I bet if you look in the back of some old magazines you'll find some places that made parts for these. IF any of them survived you may be able to help them clear out their basements.

gunner GRM+ Memberand Reader
4/18/15 2:39 p.m.

Don't know if this is any help at all but in quapaw ok there's several renault alliances in a fenced lot on the side of the highway. None in working order though

Woody GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/18/15 3:00 p.m.

In addition to Sports Renault (which, as mentioned above, became SRF) there was also another series that ran Renault Encores, and maybe Alliances too. I don't remember if it was a spec series or not, but I remember seeing them at Lime Rock in the late 80's. It might have been a Canadian series that travelled south.

They also ran in the Champion Spark Plug Challenge.

Trackmouse Reader
4/18/15 3:00 p.m.

What sort of suspension is this front and back? I used eBay Honda Civic coil overs and mustang rear springs for my Celica. With measurements- anything is possible.

BlueInGreen44 HalfDork
4/18/15 3:17 p.m.

I have nothing helpful to add here but it sure is cool that you have such a unique car.

SVreX MegaDork
4/18/15 3:20 p.m.

Well, I've done LOTS of cars with no aftermarket, but I've never touched anything French. Including women.

But the basic formulas have always been the same. More air, more fuel, stiffer, and get the exhaust out.

How fast do you want? Really fast and easy, I agree swap the engine- Escort sounds good.

But if you mean a basic $20XX Challenger, then it would be fun to use the original engine. (I am blowing the doors off people with a 1.6L right now, and loving it. Used to run a 1300 in a Fiat respectably).

Detail the crap out of it, make your own suspension bushings, talk to the guys at DIY Autotune and see if there is any possibility of Megasquirting it, cold air intake, bigger injectors and fuel pump, stiffer springs, better shocks if you can find them, light wheels, sticky tires, get the weight down as low as you can, turbo and open exhaust if you are serious. All of that is within the abilities of a mediocre mechanic, needs no after market support, and can be done to any car.

SVreX MegaDork
4/18/15 3:24 p.m.

BTW, I am currently upgrading the Mumpkin's suspension.

With some good Ebay shopping and some light fabrication (and a WHOLE lot of patience), it will end with 800/ 500# springs, poly bushings all around (made out of bathroom partitions), 4" lower, fully adjustable retired race shocks on the front, and a rear suspension built around motorcycle shocks. Total expenditure, under $200.

SlickDizzy GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
4/18/15 3:26 p.m.

Once I have the car back home at the garage tomorrow I intend to do some poking around. The stock setup is TBI so sadly Megasquirt will basically require a total overhaul of the intake manifold. Honestly, I want to keep it French too - there would be something really sad about having one of these running around with a Ford 1.9 - but apparently the block is the same as the Euro cars that got a 16v head with MPFI, so maybe that setup could be sourced and made to run with MS.

JohnRW1621 UltimaDork
4/18/15 3:37 p.m.

Tremendous. Cool find. Great back-story.
I know that "hop-ups" sound cool but it would be equally cool to just see it runs stock. Show up at your next autox and enter the stock class.

$1k purchase price is great.
Just a reminder, The Challenge is Oct 23, 2015 in Gainesville, FL.

Junkyard_Dog SuperDork
4/18/15 4:09 p.m.
SlickDizzy wrote: apparently the block is the same as the Euro cars that got a 16v head with MPFI, so maybe that setup could be sourced and made to run with MS.


How swappable are French cars to each other? Peugeot M16? It'd be like finding a unicorn and mating it to adragon to make a dragicorn.

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