Even in the storied history of Renault, a marque with a rich heritage of producing sporty, high-performance vehicles, the Sport Spider takes a special place
Renault took the world by surprise in 1995 when it presented its radical Sport Spider for the first time. The newcomer was a back-to-basics machine with a mid-engine design, lightweight construction and just about zero creature comforts at all!
But there was method to the French marque's seeming madness. The Sport Spider was originally designed for racing. The primary use for the Renault Sport Spider Trophy was to be the preliminary program for Formula 1, but fans soon wanted to see the uncompromising sports car on the road. Between 1995 and 1999, a small series of 1 493 vehicles was built at Alpine in Dieppe. We know of at least one that has made it to South Africa.
The Sport Spider, which weighs only 930 kg and is 1.25 meters high (including a roll bar!), was dressed in a futuristic plastic body. With the exception of the spectacular, supercar-like swinging gullwing doors, the body consisted of only three parts, which could be easily dismantled to fix competition damage.
In the best racing tradition, a trellis chassis served as the base. A windshield was only available at an additional cost. Heating, radio and power steering were not available. Only the airstream and the 2.0-liter four-cylinder installed directly behind the driver and front passenger across the direction of travel ensured sound and warm temperatures. The 108 kW light alloy powerplant accelerated the Sport Spider from 0 to 100 km/h in just 6.9 seconds. The top speed was 215 km/h.
The Sport Spider is also considered a milestone for the brand in another respect: It was the first road vehicle with the Renault Sport emblem and established a tradition that continues to this day.