The question is, why had it come to this? How could such a head-turning car fizzle out in such a short period of time? For starters, it suffered from the same issue as the Ford Capri. The most powerful engine of the Renault Fuego was a 1.6-liter unit with 95 horsepower, which doesn’t contrast well with the sporty looks. A 2.0-liter mill with 108 horsepower would arrive the following year, but it wasn’t particularly exciting in comparison to the likes of the Cleon-Fonte turbo inline-four engine of the ultra-coveted 5 Turbo hot hatch.
Across the big blue pond that we call the Atlantic Ocean, the Fuego was a commercial disaster, aggravated by the car’s deficient rustproofing. In its defense, the French coupe is the first production car offered with remote keyless entry. Two years prior, the Ford Motor Company introduced the Keyless Entry System (a.k.a. SecuriCode) keypad on the driver-side door.
The Fuego also happens to be the first production car with steering wheel-mounted controls for the audio system. Come October 1983 for the 1984 model year, a 1.6-liter turbo was introduced to coincide with the mid-cycle refresh. It failed to spark any interest. With the introduction of the 21, production of the Fuego ended in France in 1985. Spanish production came to a halt in 1986, and that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Coupes were a ‘70s fad in the Old Continent while hatchbacks were in with the ‘80s in crowd.
Renault wasn’t the only one behind the curve. Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu purchased a white Fuego in 1983 for his daughter, Zoia, as a wedding gift. Ordered directly from the automaker during a time when your average Romanian had to choose between Dacias, Oltcits, and other Soviet crap, the 1983 model was seized after the Romanian Revolution of 1989.
Returned to Zoia in October 1996, the car was used “only for trips outside of Bucharest” according to the peeps at Artmark. In the capital of Romania, the dictator’s daughter and her husband used a Dacia 1310 to get around.
Gifted with a 1,647-cc engine, the same 95-horsepower unit mentioned earlier, this piece of automotive and sociopolitical history will be auctioned on May 19th. The starting bid is listed by Artmark at €500, which is $530.