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Built on an exemplary platform this new Renault owed nothing to the Peugeot 205, its great rival. The GT Turbo engine was based on the old and well-known Cléon-Fonte launched in 1962. It was however, upgraded to bring it more up-to-date, as task which ended with a 1397cc displacement and the introduction of a turbo-compressor. The recipe was nothing new: a powerful engine mounted to a lightweight structure for un-matched agility — automotive holy grail.
Developing a total of 115hp and a maximum torque of 165 Nm, combined with a svelte body weight of 840 kg, the new model took less than eight seconds to reach 100 km/h, a feat reserved in its time for cars with 200hp or above.
With a highly evolved suspension and braking system, the GT Turbo developed a rapid pace never before seen in the compact sports segment. It was one of those cases in automobile history when a car of somewhat humble origins absolutely crushed and embarrassed much more expensive cars of very different pedigree.
In 1987 Renault launched the GT Turbo Phase 2 with slight mechanical improvements, namely a new ignition system and a water-cooling circuit to improve the turbo-compressor unit reliability. Aesthetically, the Phase 2 was distinguished by the alloy wheels, bumpers and new fender wings. These changes allowed for a slight improvement in aerodynamic efficiency whilst the power went to 120hp. This much-loved model was discontinued in 1991 when it was replaced with the Clio 16V.
In view of its giant-killing capabilities, the GT Turbo was used for competition right away, with Renault Portugal offering a very advantageous acquisition program for those who wanted to get their hands on it for racing purposes.
The example on display was the first GT Turbo to enter Portugal. Owned by the official racing team of Renault Portuguesa, it was driven by Edgar Fortes who was crowned national Group N champion in 1985.
After a relatively brief career in competition, this very car entered into civilian life and was later bought by Moisés Martins, one of the Heads of Competition Services at Renault Portuguesa. Martins owned the car until it was acquired by Museu do Caramulo. The car was then re-fitted to its original configuration complete with its competition livery and won the Ramp of Caramulo in 1985.