Based on the Alpine series, with every car hand-built in Alpine's Dieppe factory, the Renault Spider’s chassis was made of aluminium and its body of plastic composite, bringing its weight down to only 930 kg. Even the jack was made of aluminium in the search for weight loss, and a radio was an optional extra.
PUTTING DOWN POWER
The Renault Sport Spider’s engine was the four-cylinder 1998 cc F7R introduced on the Clio Williams, which produced 150 hp @ 6,000 rpm and topped out at 211 km/h. With a rear-mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout and five-speed mechanical gearbox, the two-seat roadster’s acceleration, braking and roadholding were sensational.
The first-ever road car with a Renault Sport badge, the Spider had a radical minimalist look. With no power steering, ABS or heating, it was perhaps more at home on the track than on the road, a point reinforced by its two bucket seats and prominent roll bar. Early models even did away with the front windscreen, with drivers in the aeroscreen version wearing a helmet instead.
GIVING IT WINGS
The Spider's doors are one of its most recognizable features, opening vertically in "beetle-wing" style and having no handles. The Sports Yellow bodywork, prominent side scoop, bulging headlights, and lack of side windows added to the highly distinctive, streamlined look of the car.
The Trophy version was developed specifically for racing, aimed at a new one-car series. It had an even lighter aluminium chassis, with a weight of 850 kg, a six-speed gearbox and its engine produced 180 hp and a top speed of 251 km/h. Later models gained a sequential gearbox for even better performance. Only 80 were ever built, making for a very exclusive club.
Production ended in 1999, but the Renault Spider is fondly remembered by fans for its radical design and exciting performance. The Renault Spider Series ran as a support race to both F1 and the British Touring Car Championship, and is also notable for producing future BTCC champion Jason Plato – who won 11 of the 14 races in its inaugural year.