The Renault 25 was once Renault’s flagship car when it was first released in the UK in 1984. It was Renault’s executive car and it seemed Renault spared no resource or expense in throwing the kitchen sink, the plug, the worktop, the kitchen units and floor tiles at the project.
Robert Opron – of Renault Fuego and Alpine 310 fame – designed the exterior, taking hints of the Alpine and various other cars and adjusting them to create something beautiful. The interior was designed by Marcello Gandini – the man behind the interior of the Countach, Mirua and Stratos. If there is a car version of an all star show, the Renault 25 would be the prime time TV slot to showcase such an event.
But now, at the time of writing in October 2019, there are only 49 left on the road in the UK from a peak of nearly 45,500 when it was released. According to a Petrol Blog about this car written in 2013, there was only 302 left at that time! I think that means these are getting rarer than Ferrari F40s?
In pub conversations, sometimes talk goes to what you think the best car is or what car would you most like to own. And when I pipe up and say “Renault 25” I’m met with faces that you’d only see if you just let out a wet fart at a funeral while you carried the coffin down the aisle.
It is a forgotten car, one of many in the UK market. While some deserve that, the Renault 25 simply doesn’t. It was the poor man’s Bentley, and arguably more reliable than one too.
What makes the car so good for me name it as the one car I’d own above all else? Well, I can tell you right now that this affection I have for the 25 is based purely on the 4 years my Dad owned one, between the ages of 3 and 7 years of age. It was the first car I properly remember, how it smelt, how it looked, how I broke the ariel by swinging on it through the sunroof in a car park. But I also remember the absolute hell my Dad had with it.
I don’t remember much of the car being bought, just that Dad turned up with it one day. In later conversations I had with him, it turned out that he bought it with a broken engine and had it replaced. The next thing I remember of the car was that it sat on the driveway while my mom and dad filled a Vauxhall Senator with suitcases and we made our way to Ireland on the ferry. Turned out that the day before we were due to go on holiday the rear suspension on the Renault broke, meaning Dad had to borrow his gaffer’s brand new Vauxhall Senators. Like most Vauxhall’s it was fairly forgettable.
What makes the Renault 25 so special, in my head at least, was it’s dashboard. The dashboard is pure space age, and while Honda got close to a spaceship-like dashboard with their 8th generation Civic, the Renault 25 just hasn’t been beaten. The controls slant away from you, covered from above with air vents blowing that sweet sweet fresh air in to your face. The radio itself is laid out at a slight angle but mostly flat which can be operated easily by the driver or passenger.
The best thing though, and it’s odd that I remember this, is that it had a little sun visor that sat above the rear view mirror. I do not understand how car companies don’t do this more often, it’s a fantastic and I think nessescary item that improves the driving experience of any car. We have all been there, either early winter morning driving or in the evening, but you have the main sun visor down and a crease of light just blinds you in that spot above the rear view mirror. Renault, at the time, had you covered. They knew how annoying it was, so they did something about it. Perfect!
The car, though, wasn’t without it’s problems. My Dad’s Renault 25 never had a working fuel gauge, and in fairness I don’t recall it ever running out of petrol. The “new” engine also suffered a timing belt snap while we were driving up a hill. Dad didn’t call the RAC or AA, he just limped the car home. That then meant yet another engine for this Renault. Finally, the car also suffered from overheating problems, leading to a mechanic at the time fixing the head gasket and allowing the radiator fan to keep running for about 5 minutes after the car was turned off. I don’t think it ever resolved the issue. In the wider world, these cars were notorious for failing automatic gearboxes. The ATF oil cooler used on these cars weren’t at all strong and would leak. But given their location, if you weren’t eagle eyed to spot the ATF fluid leaking all over your lovely driveway then the only other symptom would be the car refusing to move, as the gearbox became starved of ATF and would weld itself together.
Ultimately, given the rarity of this car, I’ll probably never own one myself – much to the delight of the wife. If, however, a Mk 1 Renault 25 GTX ever showed itself and I had the few quid to purchase it believe me I would. But that’s highly unlikely to happen, as mostly Mk2 ones come up for sale now and then and I have zero interest in the newer versions. The Renault 25 will always be a special car to me, as it was at a time in my youth where everything was brand new and exciting. It’s also the first car I drove, being 5 years old sat on my Dad’s lap operating the steering on a farm in Ireland.
They deserve a lot more respect than the little bit of credit they get today. Keep the memory alive! The next Renault 25 you see you should buy it, restore it, and give it to me!