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A Grand Monday: Renault Espace

Published 19 February 2018

It may appear to be as french as baguettes, brie and fine wine, but the Renault Espace was originally conceived in Coventry...

It was a car with a strained start in life, originally planned as a Talbot, to replace the Matra Rancho, the engineering for the fibreglass-bodied people carrier was undertaken by Matra in Dieppe, but under the command of Chrysler (formerly Rootes Group) in the UK.

Chrysler Europe's parent company, PSA, had other ideas, though, and deemed that the model would be too expensive to put into production, allowing Matra to keep the design. Matra, in turn, approached Renault with what was effectively an off-the-peg production-ready car that would introduce a new concept to the car market, and the Renault Espace was born.

Thirty-four years on, and the multi-purpose vehicle, or MPV, is a staple of most manufacturers' model ranges. PSA must have been kicking themselves... 

Renault Espace (3)

The Espace was an instant hit. Practical, with up to seven seats and a van-like load bay, but no larger in its footprint than a contemporary saloon car. Plus, it was designed and conceived by Matra, a manufacturer with a fine history of the weird and the wonderful, so its fibreglass construction and modular bodywork were suitably unusual, with the added advantage of creating a Renault that didn't rust - such a thing was a rarity back then. 

And speaking of rarities, early Espaces are thin on the ground these days, which makes this £950 example an interesting and unusual choice of modern classic. It's 24 years old but has nothing of great concern in its service history, while the 113,000 mileage is quite reasonable for its age. This one's a Phase 2 - effectively a facelift of the original Espace, but with smoother, rounder bodywork.

The vendor openly says that the paint is sun-damaged, so if you want to make it a really nice example, you'll need to get the roof painted at the very least. But it's otherwise very presentable, with a long MoT. Enjoy the upcoming show season with the family in tow... 

Renault Espace (2)



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