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1970 Vauhdin Maailma
Story: Ensio Mikander, Mauri Vuorinen
English translation: Juha Moisio

Cars of Competition part 1: RENAULT R1135

In this issue we start a series that will go on until, if possible, we have introduced all of the most popular machines in Groups I & II. We'll try to introduce both versions of each model at the same time. If there's no Gr. I car available for some model, we'll test the standard car. We start our series with Renault aka the 'Remington' aka the 8 Gordini. In other words, the car whose official type is R1135, which really is used quite seldomly.
The man behind this car's success on gravel roads is the long, thick-haired and ever so quietly-spoken Jorma Lusenius.

Out of box Group I

What makes the R8 Gordini interesting is the fact that it doesn't require much work for the Gr. I. And much work isn't even allowed, as just about every part needed and homologated for the Gr. I is standard from the factory. This of course can be seen on the car's relatively high price. The only modifications needed after the car has left the retailer are: fitting of the underbody armors, changing the shock absorbers, fitting of seat belts and roll cage and installing auxiliary lights. With this work done, the car is ready for Gr. I rallying.
On good-surfaced roads, the car is excellent to drive and the progress is fast. Even though the steering is quite slow, it doesn't matter too much because the car is somewhat keen to oversteer, thanks to the weight distribution. And it's just the oversteering tendency that demands fairly precise approach at the steering wheel to make the progress fast and fluid.
Entering bumpy, poor-surfaced roads reveals the car's worst deficiency. The front suspension easily bottoms out. Longer and stiffer front springs would be required. The rear suspension with double shock absorbers on each side is very sturdy and good.

And the Group II car?

Cars modified for the Gr. II are quite a thing of their own. The similarities to standard cars are usually confined to only the body looking standard. Let's take a look at Jorma Lusenius' car which, unlike many other car makes, differs very little from the standard car.
- The differences in the body: Double front inner wings (for added strength) and wheel arch flarings.
- The suspension is completely different, shock absorbers as in the Gr. I.
- Main lights have been changed to halogen units (allowed in the Gr. I as well, but the standard alternator can't cope).
- A smaller front fuel tank to make the front lighter (standard 25 litres, now 1.5 litres).
- Faster steering ratio. Standard car has 3.2 turns lock-to-lock, this car has 2.5 turns.
- A smaller steering wheel fitted.
- Seats changed for bucket seats.
- Electrically heated windscreen.
- All sound isolation has been removed (undersealing, body sealing and sound absorbing materials under the interior trim).
- The following wheel sizes can be used: 4.5 x 15, 4.5/5.0/5.5 x 13.
- "Rubber bypass pieces" are used for the gearbox mounting. It means that the gearbox is practically bolted solid to the rear crossmember. This is to prevent the car jumping out of gear on a bumpy surface.
- Gear ratios have been changed (the new Gr. II regulations allow the ratios to be chosen entirely to everyone's need and taste).
- A stronger clutch fitted.
- Engine modifications: The crankshaft and connecting rods balanced. Pistons changed for ones with a larger bore to raise the cubic displacement from 1255 to 1296 cc. The cylinder head inlet and outlet ports reworked for a better flow. A slice of 0.5 mm taken from the cylinder head. Camshaft changed. Valves lightened, valve springs changed. The exhaust header and silencer changed (the header type Alpine). Electric fuel pump. Fan blades shortened by a couple of centimeters. A stronger alternator fitted (standard 400 W, this car 750 W).

The feelings after modifications

A Gr. II modified rallycar is anything but an ideal family car for city commuting. But wait. Let's get out of the town and find a suitable gravel road with no speed limit. That's where you notice that all these modifications have been made for a good reason. The car really goes, if you just care to give a slightest of hint to the engine room. Lusenius has really set up his car's suspension well, it feels like the machine just loves every bump in the road. After a jump, the car lands evenly on all four wheels. There are no unnerving movements after landing, the car being perfectly in control. The brake pressure limiting valve is adjusted so that the rear wheels brake a bit earlier than the front ones. This is to prevent getting into "panic brakings". In other words, it is extremely difficult to go out of the road front first. Even in the tightest of situations, the car turns.
The feeling of the Gr. I and II cars is completely different. A speed suitable for relaxed traveling in the Gr. II car, means taking quite a risk in the Gr. I car.
If we can test both group R12 Gordinis next spring, remains to be seen.

Above: Gr. I & II cars. Position of cars reveals differences in suspension. Gr. II front clearly higher than standard.

Above: Standard header (left) differs significantly from Alpine header used in Gr. II (right).


Above: Only difference at back is silencer. Lower picture shows Gr. II transversally mounted silencer, upper picture standard car.


0-400 m:
0-1000 m:
0-50 km/h:
0-80 km/h:
0-100 km/h:
0-120 km/h:
0-140 km/h:
18.5 s
33.8 s
3.8 s
7.9 s
12.1 s
17.7 s
26.3 s
16.5 s
31.0 s
3.0 s
6.1 s
9.1 s
13.3 s
18.4 s