30 September 2020

The 25th anniversary of the Renault Sport Spider: a design in a class of its own

The 25th anniversary of the Renault Sport Spider: a design in a class of its own

The sleek lines of the Renault Sport Spider were revealed at the 1995 Geneva Motor Show in front of astonished journalists and members of the public. Without a windscreen, with beetle-wing doors and contrasting body colours, the playful character of the car was expressed in a design that was sporty but not aggressive.

Only three months: that’s the record time that elapsed between the 1:1 scale clay model and the presentation of the Renault Sport Spider at the 1995 Geneva Motor Show. This intense concentration of work reflected all the passion generated within the Renault design teams by such a unique project. The aim was to finalise a production model that drew its inspiration from the Laguna roadster (1990) and Argos (1994) concept cars. Like a concept car for the road!

Under the direction of Patrick le Quément, a competition between young designers was launched at the very beginning of the project, under the responsibility of Yves Legal. Very quickly, the first sketches were proposed and displayed in the large room of the design studio. The choice of Patrick le Quément and Christian Contzen (at the head of the project) was the same: it was Benoît Jacob’s drawing that caught their attention. A very pure design, without aggressivity, which stood out dramatically thanks to its aeroscreen (a version with a windscreen was produced later on), its beetle-wing doors and its interior, leaving the aluminium of its chassis to take pride of place. It was a veritable concept car on wheels, with very expressive shapes that evoked the search for the purest sensations, so that the car became an extension of you. These sensations were amplified by the “no-filter” effect of the version with no windscreen. "We wanted to create an extremely simple vehicle," explains Patrick le Quément. “Benoît Jacob was the right designer for this car. His proposal was very graphic, extremely pure, even purist, with the scoop dominating the central engine, full of curves, without angled lines or sharp shapes, and a fullness that gives it a very special touch. Le Corbusier was right when he said, ‘proportions are what give an object their smile.’”. Compact (3.80 m), very wide (1.83 m), with virtually no rear overhang, the Spider’s proportions give it a distinctly sporty feel.

 

Renault has a long-standing tradition in all matters relating to automobile design. The Spider was a real concept car, without compromise. Full of curves, with beautiful proportions, it exuded a fullness that gave it a really special character. It expressed its joyful side, but without being aggressive.

Patrick le Quément Renault's Design Director for the project

The two-tone colour sets the mechanical package of against the bodywork. Only three colours were proposed at the start: red, blue and yellow, the symbol of Renault Sport, all contrasting with the anthracite grey of the parts housing the engine. A more discreet grey was later added to the catalogue. The remarkable work of the colour and material specialists also made it possible to find a real communion between the exterior and interior of the Spider. The cockpit succeeds in expressing the raw technicality of the car without giving the impression of being completely exposed. The aluminium cross member defines the instrument panel, which supports the three-meter cluster, while the digital display is integrated into the aeroscreen structure. The body-coloured centre-console houses the instrument lights, the hazard warning-light button and the model signature plate. The gear knob is a simple ball of raw aluminium, which gives the driver a very physical contact with the main chassis material that is omnipresent in the passenger compartment. The perforated aluminium bucket seats and pedals are adjustable. The driver is already visually prepared for the thrills that await him or her at the wheel.

 

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