“Jamais deux sans trois” is an old French saying, so here is the final and 3rd part of the Renault 5 Turbo story with a detailed look at chassis #D000020. In situ, the Bruno Saby works car from the 1981 Monte Carlo rally and good to know, it’s now been found and it’s up for sale by a good friend of mine in the UK. Below is the whole story and how it comes today. A good buy if I could only afford it..!
Chassis #20 has a continuous traceable lineage through just 2 owners since its initial birth campaigned as a works car by Renault in iconic Calberson colors. During the models debut in World Rally and part of a 2 car race team with RenaultSport, this cars story begins as registration 127 TZ 91 that of the group 4 car used in rally Monte Carlo 1981.
Finished late Saturday evening the night before rally start as recalled by team manager Francois Bernard this car carried entry number 20 and was driven by Bruno Saby and Daniel Le Saux. Suffering a heavy accident late the following Thursday night and compounded by another car also involving itself the roof was crushed. Renault were using titanium for roll over structures at that period weighing in at just 10kgs but failing to protect the car, it was promptly returned to RenaultSport headquarters in Dieppe.
Parallel to this story was Alexandros Maniatopoulos AKA ‘Leonidas’ a representative for Renault Greece, importer of NSU, well renowned buyer of factory cars from Renault and not least a good friend of Patrick Landon. Leonidas commissioned the purchase of a works car from the finish of Monte Carlo rally 1981, the winning Ragnotti car was held back by the factory for development and thus the retired #20 car of Bruno Saby was used to honour the arrangement.
Stripped and rebuilt at the factory in Dieppe the former Calberson car was used as a source for the build base and was finally delivered as a factory group 4 car in the then revised ELF livery. Francois Bernard and the factory team delivered the car for pre-sale testing to Cyprus during July 1981 and also with a well-remembered week long late summer test in September at the Mount Parros special stage with Krystos Smirnios (Leonidas’s personal engineer) Leonidas’s relationship with Renault is long lasting and remembered even to this day, many times during his ownership Renault collaborated with himself and Krystos for Acropolis data using chassis #20 as a download platform.
Once the sale was confirmed chassis #20 was promptly painted into FINA livery in readiness for the Acropolis WRC of 1982 where it finished 8th overall, a credible international debut for Leonidas in Group 4 and well documented. Its remaining forays that year were national events but with Group B looming the car was duly sent back to RenaultSport headquarters at Dieppe for update to Group B specification. During this stay again Krystos was sent along with the car to strip and inspect ‘Acropolis affect’ for future revisions on Renaults own entry for the following year along with Leonidas’s own.
Regulations announced meant that Renault had to build 20 cars to comply with the evolution rule for Group B so in light of this ruling, whilst Leonidas car was updated it was also put into the production line up of 20 cars to allow Renault to comply with evolution procedure; thus the car was sold back to Leonidas as a ‘new’ car in 1983. Contrary to most circumstances of this nature, chassis #20’s previous lineage can be clearly seen and traced as its Group 4 origins are still clearly identifiable. It has clear continuity from its 1981 debut as Group 4 right through its Group B update and on to the present day.
Delivered again back to Greece resplendent in Factory Tour De Corse colours of white on yellow for 1983 Leonidas again entered Acropolis WRC round along with the national rallies of Halkediki and Albena. Gaining tarmac suspension along with gravel specification made it a formidable private entrant before financial circumstances halted Leonidas competition lifestyle.
Sold via an associate to its current owner for the princely sum of Drachma 12,500,000 and a Jaguar XJC during 1984 (equivalent to 3 apartments) XE 9999 as it was now registered lost within this transaction the dry sump oil system, this being sold separately to further aid Leonidas financial crisis. The new owner and current owner still to this day was amateur racer Dimitris Manolopoulos AKA ‘Taki’ who campaigned the car with son Thomas Manolopoulos alongside.
Hugely successful in national Greek hill climb and National Greek rally they accumulated over 200 race wins in their 30 year ownership, running the car on the remnants of the original works supplied spares package and with Krystos still alongside engineering. It passed through a multitude of liveries as national sponsors picked up on Taki’s success and the car accrued something of a national status in motorsport circles.
Chassis #20 now resides in the UK and is presented in factory Tour De Corse delivery colors and specification of 1983. Supplied with relevant homologation documents for Group 4 and Group B, these being the original documents with an endearing feature of having the pencilled in registration details of the Calberson car on which it was based. A full ex works spares package is provided, again it retains the original team quick lifting gear for front and rear along with original body moulds for each configuration it ran in. Every suspension variable is with the car from narrow track ‘Cévennes’ through to Tour De Corse gravel and full tarmac. As an Acropolis car one of the failings found was that the aluminium rear uprights were insufficient, these changed along with the factory entered Acropolis cars to fabricated steel items (all variants are supplied).
With Taki’s unsurpassed knowledge of the car, he has provided alongside all period documents and archive history; a complete running guide for competition maintenance. Chassis #20 has rebuilt engine and drivetrain with just a single competition event mileage outstanding that was finished successfully.
The car requires only a systems update and gentle cosmetic overhaul to retain the fiercely original look of one of the last absolute true lineage factory cars surviving. Eligible for all premier historic rally events such as Tour De Corse Historique, Eiffel Rallye and the FIA European Historic Rally Championship. This car in particular would also be welcome at events such as Stoneleigh Race retro, Goodwood Members meeting, Oulton Park Gold Cup and a multitude of other Group B demonstrations across the UK and Europe.
Supplied with authentication, photo history and covering mail from Michel Tétu, this factory supplied Tour De Corse with impeccable international and national history is offered for sale whilst being open to viewing and negotiation.
All details and official advert for the car can be found here. Full details are available from the seller and well, documentation is as good as the spare package that comes with it.
Chassis #D000020 in action while in “Maxi” trim.