40 years after the day the Argentine Renault Fuego coupe was born

The Fire coupea car with French design, marked an important milestone in Argentine automotive history, since two years after its birth in Europe, it landed in the local market to be manufactured exclusively at the Renault plant in Córdoba.

It all started when Renault France wanted to have a car breakerwith two doors and with the roof falling well back. The plans began in 1976, and four years later, the model that succeeded the Renault 15 and 17, and which was based on the Renault 18, was already a reality with the Fuego coupé.

This model debuted in Europe with great success and was a great wake-up call for the global automotive industry, accustomed to this design being characteristic of the high-end, but not of the most massive brands. However, in Europe it had a fairly short life and its successes accumulated beyond its parent company, as happened in Argentina.

40 years after the manufacture of the Renault Fuego in Argentina.

Presented a year after its launch in France, in 1981, already in 1982 it was announced that it would be manufactured in Córdoba, where the brand still operates today in Santa Isabel, and where today the anniversary is being commemorated with the Renault Fuego Club and others. special guests.

The long-awaited coupé and the reality of the Fuego

By the 1980s, Renault already had some experience with small coupes with the Floride 15 and 17. Still, It was far from reaching the prestige of high-end manufacturers, while the most direct rivals, such as Opel or Ford, had directly renounced that segment.

Despite the context, Renault got to work and with the design of Michael Jordin, under the direction of Robert Opron (of Citroën fame), created a ‘fastback’ with rounded contours and a large sloped rear window, achieving as a result a car with a low aerodynamic coefficient (Cx) of 0.34. Production began at the French Maubeuge Construction Automobile plant.

One of the successes of this design was that the large trunk and the four comfortable seats gave the Fuego coupé the dowry of a practical model, a concept that was very much in vogue at the time and highly valued. Other innovations were added to this, such as the fact that it was one of the first production cars with turbocharging, a resource derived from Formula 1, and with very good standard equipment.

Renault celebrates the anniversary with the Club de la coupé Fuego in Argentina.

Renault celebrates the anniversary with the Club de la coupé Fuego in Argentina.

Also the selection of engines was very wide, all four-cylinder, arranged longitudinally. From a propeller of 1.4 liters and 64 hp, to a 2.0 L of 110 hp. Then the turbocharged 1.6-liter and 132 hp was added, with which the Renault Fuego approached 200 km / h maximum speed.

Its end in Europe, its continuity in America

Until the moment of its first renewal, in 1984, the Fuego coupé was successful both in Europe and in America, to the point of being the best-selling coupé in the Old Continent during 1981. However, year after year, sales plummeted and the model had to struggle to survive in European countries, where it was permanently discontinued in 1987.

In Argentina his path was different and he reaped many achievements. It was manufactured by the local subsidiary of Renault from 1982, receiving successive restylings until 1992.

Among the versions that left the plant in Cordoba was the GTX 2.2 in 1988, equipped with a modified 2,200 cm3 engine, capable of developing 116 hp, with a main novelty that was the incorporation of disc brakes on all 4 wheels.

The birth of the Fire GTA

Around the end of 1988, the GTA version of the Renault Fuego was presented, similar to the GTX version, but with a total external redesign which included body-color trim.

Finally, in 1991 the GTA Max version was presented, a local development practiced on the Fuego GTA, in which the improvement of its engine stood out as the main attribute, which went on to deliver a power of 123 hp and was capable of rolling up to 198 km/h.

The development of this latest version was carried out by the competition car preparer Oreste Bertawho had a great relationship with the Argentine subsidiary of Renault, leading the brand’s official squad and winning multiple championships at the TC 2000. Its performance and aerodynamic design allowed it to be a highly sought-after model in the 80s and 90s. for use in sports competitions.

Renault Fuego GTAmax, manufactured in Argentina.

Renault Fuego GTAmax, manufactured in Argentina.

In the case of Oreste, he was accompanied by Juan María Traverso, making this team “unbeatable” from 1986 to 1993, achieving eight consecutive titles, six for Traverso, one for Oltra (with the Benavídez Competición team) and another for Guerra. The Ford Sierra XR4, could not on the tracks with those coupes.

The Legend of the Fire was enlarged on April 3, 1988 in the Río Negro circuit. In that test Traverso won the victory with his Fuego almost on fire and holding the push of his rival Silvio Oltra. The pilot himself recounted his feat when he got out of the car, “A hose broke and I began to lose oil, mainly on the exhaust pipes. I managed to spill practically all the lubricant in the last three laps, which caused the engine temperature to rise to make it red hot.”

his last days

After great successes, and breaking with the structure of everything known, In 1992, the Cordoba plant of Renault put an end to the coupé Fuego.

Altogether, it 19,952 units were manufactured in Santa Isabel over a decadewhile 265,257 copies were made worldwide.

Compared to other models, it does not find a logical explanation for its remembered importance in the production and sales numbers, but the truth is that it is kept in the retina of thousands of people around the world as one of the most “revered” cars.

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