Ah yes, another SOTW debutant this week in the unique shape of the Renault Wind. We’ve all assumed that it’s pronounced ‘Wind’, as in the thing that blows your washing dry, but Shed has a theory that it’s actually pronounced ‘Wind’ as in what you might do to your watch in the morning, assuming it’s not quartz or a powerfully built Rolex automatic. The explanation Shed gives for this peculiar conclusion is the Wind’s unique shape, which has always reminded him of a clockwork wind-up toy car he had when he was just a Hutch.
Shed tried to give you one of these Winds a few months back, but the pics were so bad he couldn’t bring himself to go through with it. The pics with this one are technically better, but despite there being 48 of them it does now appear that the Wind is impossible to photograph in a flattering way. No matter which angle you come from, it always looks like a cross between a clog and a liquorice Allsort. That’s the kind of unique you either love or hate.
In period, the press didn’t seem to mind it, referring to it as a sporty little two-seat coupe with a big boot and an electric roof. That kind of sums up the production car, but doesn’t tell the story of the concept car that led up to it. Renault previewed that at the Paris show in 2004. It was a pretty, mini-Barchetta-looking thing with a 136hp 2.0 engine, an automated six-speed manual gearbox and a carbon fibre/leather saddle arrangement that you turned inside out to create a third seat, making it a ‘2 + 1’. Shed found a couple of pictures showing how that worked, but they might not make it off his cutting room floor. Interesting though.
It took Renault another six years to pluck up enough courage to build it. By that time the Wind concept had been downgraded into an innocuous breeze with two seats and not much design flair. Having gone to all the trouble of building the bloomin’ thing Renault then canned the Wind in 2013, just three years after they started, a decision that was made easier by the refusal of many people to buy it.
The GT Line model here was the third poshest in the four-car UK range, one below the Collection, which is what some disappointed Wind owners tried to arrange with the Council recycling people when they got fed up with the performance of their 1.1 versions. Renault reckoned that the 1.1, which was actually turbocharged to a mighty 99hp, did the 0-62mph in 10.5sec and went on to a top speed of 118mph, optimistic-sounding figures for that amount of power in a car weighing 1,131kg. There was a 131hp 1.6 naturally aspirated Wind that was supposed to take the 0-62 down to 9.2sec and the top speed up to 125mph.
As you can see our shed has the highly rated Royal Black tyres on it. They support what is basically a modded Mk 2 Clio platform, one which was also (and for all Shed knows still is) underpinning the Dacia Duster. That was a decent chassis and the high-waisted design of the Wind body meant that roof lowering didn’t massively impinge on the car’s handling.
Oh aye, the roof. Its operation was deceptively simple. Press the button and the boot lid hinged backwards to a vertical position from a pivot point behind the back wheels. From the now exposed boot space the upside-down roof panel hinged forward from its pivot point behind the seats and plopped onto the windscreen rail. The boot lid then fell back into place, hopefully not too violently. It was a neat process that took just 12 seconds, or never if it was broken which some of them were, probably as a result of a roof/window sequencing issue that you might be able to fix yourself once you knew the secret reset procedure. If it was a microswitch/sensor problem that wouldn’t be such a quick fix.
You probably wouldn’t want to try roof deployment when an actual Wind was blowing from the front end of the car as you could easily visualise the verticalised boot lid snapping off in a playful gust. In fact, you’d probably hope it would do that in preference to tipping the whole car back onto its rear numberplate with you staring at the sky while hanging on to the (typically melted, as here) Renault steering wheel. The laws of physics would prevent that happening if you had Mrs Shed in the passenger seat of course, but then you’d be at risk from the third variety of Wind, to which Mrs Shed is unfortunately prone. If that happens with her on board you’d better hope that the roof is properly clipped into place or you might never see it again.
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