Spotted sat in Parc fermé at the end of a recent rally in France were these two French fancies. As the crowds crawled all over the Ferraris and other obvious classics, this pair caught my eye. These are “car club 18-30” kind of machines and I thought I would share these pics with my fellow MotorPunks. First up, the Matra Murena.

matra mureno (1)

matra mureno (2)

matra mureno (3)

matra mureno (4)

matra mureno (5)

matra mureno (6)

Not to be confused with a fat Nissan with a very similar name, the Murena is a French sportscar made from 1980-‘83 and therefore just outside the window of eligibility for our club for modern classics, “car club 18-30”. We’ll allow it to join under the ‘Cougar’ rule though, as it might be a bit old but we think it’s still worthy of some sideways slap and tickle. This car comes from a time when the French were still courageous with their car design. The Murena has a galvanised steel structure under it’s polyester panels so it doesn’t rot like it’s almost extinct predecessor, the Bagheera. The engine is in the back, an inline 4 with either 1.6 or 2.2 litres and up to 142BHP as standard. There was an ‘F3’ version which added a turbo. Styling and performance aside, the cabin is what makes this car so memorable. Three abreast sat on squishy upholstery. I couldn’t find the owner when I took these pictures but like to imagine he’d arrived with the cheeky girls and was in a bar behaving appallingly. MotorPunk approves. Next up, a Renault.

renault 5 alpine (2)

renault 5 alpine (7)

renault 5 alpine (6)

renault 5 alpine (5)

renault 5 alpine (4)

renault 5 alpine (3)

No. Not a regular Renault 5 Turbo. We can forgive the French lad in the picture for looking confused. It’s a Renault 5 Alpine, also known as the Gordini in the UK due to some argument over naming rights with Chrysler at the time, and it predates what the internet (un)reliably says is the world’s first hot hatch, the Golf Gti. This R5 looks fabulous with it’s Gordini wheels and period yellow lamps but it goes well too, with a crossflow head 1.4 litre motor and 5 speed ‘box. It has 92BHP, nearly double that of the standard ‘5. A 0-60 time of 9.7 seconds doesn’t sound quick but the handling had been sharpened and it has that lightweight chuckable look that we love. Later versions than this one had a turbo too and a very silly for the era 110BHP, although the UK motoring press panned it back in the day because it cost £2 more than an XR3. What do they know, anyway? The R5 Alpine was a rarity back then, even more so now, and it qualifies for “car club 18-30” not just because the mainstream R5 stayed in production until ’96 but because the Renault 5 Alpine is so damn cool.

Pics by Rich Duisberg.

About The Author

Rich Duisberg

Rich's drivel regularly appears in Practical Performance Car and GT Porsche magazines. He has also written for Classic & Sportscar, MogMag, Classic Performance and Retro, Banzai, Evo, and Modern Mini. He also did a book no-one bought. His hungover fizzog also often appears on CBS’s Carfection channel enthusing about historic motoring. Le Mans winner Derek Bell once refused to get in Rich's Morgan Three Wheeler with him at the wheel. Currently amongst the detritus in his garage is a 1972 Fiat 500 Abarth, a fat BMW and a Lotus Elise. Previous machinery includes a Porsche 968, an Alfa GTV V6 and a dreadful Sinclair C5. He also owns a vintage Royal Enfield pushbike.

2 Responses

  1. David Milloy

    Hi Rich,

    The Murena in the picture is a Murena 2.2 from either the 1981 or 1982 model year. How do I know this? The button velour seats were replaced by zebra patterned seats (sans buttons) for the 1983 model year. The exhaust is an aftermarket unit, possibly a Devil or Devil copy, and the rear spoiler is also non-standard.

    The Murena F3 was a styling kit produced by Fleischmann – I’m looking at a sales flyer for the F3 and F2 kits as I type this. Matra had nothing to do with the kit; they had hoped to produce a Murena with a re-designed and uprated engine and revised bodyshell, but the funds weren’t available to allow them to do so.

    There was indeed a turbo kit for the 2.2 engine, but it was produced by a Dutch company and wasn’t part of the F3 kit. It raised power to 168 bhp and was fitted to several 2.2s in the early 1980s. John Miles tested one such car (which had also been converted to RHD by a British company) for Autocar magazine in 1983.

    • Rich Duisberg
      Rich Duisberg

      David, thanks for the fantastic insight. Love your blog, too.


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