Currently reading: A brief history of Gordini
The iconic Gordini badge has returned to Renaults

The Gordini brand is an important part of Renault’s heritage both on and off the track.

Amedee Gordini was born in 1899, around a year after the launch of the first ever Renault vehicle, and originally worked as a mechanic on single seaters before becoming an engine tuner at Renault.

His R8 Gordinis finished first, third, fourth and fifth on the 1964 Tour de Corsica rally. In 1966, the 1300 version heralded the birth of the Gordini Cup race series.

The R8 Gordini was replaced with the R12 Gordini, which featured an all-aluminium 1565 cc engine, Weber carburetors and a 115mph top speed.

The Renault 5 Gordini was arguably the first hot hatch, beating the VW Golf Mk1 by a year, and featured a 93bhp 1397cc turbocharged engine and five-speed manual gearbox.

The 5 Gordini hit 60mph in 10.7sec and a top speed of 107mph.

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jerry99 11 November 2009

Re: A brief history of Gordini

It is probably worth noting that these models had quite highly modified engines with domed pistons giving compression ratios around 10.25:1, fully floating grudgeon pins, big valve cylinder heads, high lift cams and on the 12 G hemispherical combustion chamber cross flow arrangements with central spark plugs. Factory kits were availble with more radical cams for race use as well as roll cages.

Later R8G and all R12G models had close ratio five speed gearboxes. All models were fully disk braked and the R12G was an early user of ventilated front disc brakes. Specail steering rack ratios were employed.

It was for this reason when I drove a 12G replica that it could outperform the later MK1 Golf GTI as one could use more of the performance knowing that the car would easily outbrake many other cars of the day, not to mention later Ford Serrias and Capri 2.8i. This was all achieved on tyres of 155 or 165 section, which illustrated that the wishbone front suspension (and dead beam axle rear) was brilliantly effective at keeping those small tyres squarely in contact with the road.

Renault introduced a short lived R17G based on the R12G with Bosch fuel injection partly for the American market, but the extra weight and its bias to the front wheels with the coupe body meant that in driving terms it was not quite so proficient.

Many of these parts were used to upgrade successive verisons of the Apine A110 series of rear engined sports car, which were highly successful in rallying in the early 1970s before Porsche built a big engine for the 911 rally versions

Dougie 11 November 2009

Re: A brief history of Gordini

"The Renault 5 Gordini was arguably the first hot hatch, beating the VW Golf Mk1 by a year, and featured a 93bhp 1397cc turbocharged engine and five-speed manual gearbox."

Hang on....I thought the turbocharged version didn't come out until the early eighties.

I also thought that the R5 hot version was sold as the Alpine on the continent (non turbo from it's launch in the 70s and the turbo thereafter). It had to be called the Gordini in this country because what was then Chrysler Europe (after taking over the Rootes Group) and then Peugeot after buying what was left of Chrysler in France and the UK had the rights to the Alpine name, didn't it?

That's why Renault UK marketed the GTA and A610 as Renaults in the 80s and 90s, not as Alpines, I thought.