Renault R8, R8 Gordini, R10 ,Alconi & Dauphine


Supercharged sensation

30 Dec 2010





Puddles Adler was instrumental in the development of 'Sideways' Jody Scheckter's awesome blown Renault R8

Then came the False Bay 100 in August where Jody came up against another incredible South African car for the first time - Willie Meissner's 1424cc turbocharged Escort brainchild pedalled by Peter Gough. For reasons unknown, Scheckter drove his 1300cc Gordini instead. The R8's last race was the Rand Spring Trophy in October 1970 when Jody qualified 4th but did not race, with Gough setting a new lap record of 1m 37.7sec in the Escort. 


Puddles, who today resides in Canada, and Ecurie Acquila stalwart Martin Pomeroy gave us a great insight into the R8 project during his recent visit to South Africa Puddles reckons, "Alconi was thinking ahead of its time and ahead of itself." The main problem facing the team was that neither intercooling nor water-injection were considered or invented in 1968. 

One of the mysteries the team contended with was that every time they dyno-tested the motor, during the initial stages of a test run the test equipment would indicate new significant gains in power which, "would have given a reliable 200-plus bhp. But on the track, we could never figure out why the power slowly disappeared when everything got so hot!" Puddles reflected. 

Adler went on to remind us that the R8 Gordini engine was incredibly reliable with all that power. "But problems with clutches disintegrating, pushrods bending, and the power developed way beyond the 8 000-rpm limit and where valve springs were temperamental, detracted from the project's potential success. 

"Renault's gearbox and diff parts were not available for serious racing, so the small tyres and wheels just made too many revs." 

Another interesting fact was that Jody recently indicated his intention of attempting to track down his supercharged R8, which was in many ways was the car that saw him being roped with the nickname, 'Sideways Scheckter'. 

Puddles is quick to point out that he was perhaps a little too 'bang-bang' when he developed his race engines, while cohorts John Conchie and Scamp Porter would slow things down, "Especially when I got lost." He went on to say, "Remember that the name Alconi was made up of a combination of Adler and Conchie..."

- Mario Lupini 





The Gordini brand is an important part of Renault’s heritage both on and off the track.

Amedee Gordini was born in 1899, around a year after the launch of the first ever Renault vehicle, and originally worked as a mechanic on single seaters before becoming an engine tuner at Renault.

His R8 Gordinis finished first, third, fourth and fifth on the 1964 Tour de Corsica rally. In 1966, the 1300 version heralded the birth of the Gordini Cup race series.

The R8 Gordini was replaced with the R12 Gordini, which featured an all-aluminium 1565 cc engine, Weber carburetors and a 115mph top speed.

The Renault 5 Gordini was arguably the first hot hatch, beating the VW Golf Mk1 by a year, and featured a 93bhp 1397cc turbocharged engine and five-speed manual gearbox.

The 5 Gordini hit 60mph in 10.7sec and a top speed of 107mph.


The Dauphine was launched in 1956 to replace the highly successful Renault 4CV. Like the 4CV, the Dauphine used a single-shell monocoque body. It was a 4-door saloon design as was the 4CV, but it lacked the rear-hinged "suicide doors" of the 4CV. It was also heavier and 12 in (300 mm) longer than its predecessor, but used the same engine, albeit a version increased in size and power from 760 cc to 845 cc and 19 hp to 32 hp (14 kW to 24 kW) (the Dauphine was infamously slow: Road & Track magazine measured the Dauphine's 0-60 mph/0–97 km/h acceleration time as 32 seconds). Like its predecessor, the Dauphine used a rear-engined rear wheel drive configuration: Renault's Fernand Picard pointed out in a paper he delivered in 1957 that in this respect the car was part of a trend led by Volkswagen, Fiat and Renault themselves whereby the rear drive/rear engine configuration had increased from 2.6% of continental western Europe's car production in 1946 to 26.6% in 1956.[4] (The UK auto industry, which had also managed largely to avoid the front-engine/front-wheel drive trend of the 1930s, was excluded from Picard's figures here.[4])

The Dauphine was originally intended to be called the Corvette, but was changed to Dauphine (the female form of the French feudal title of Dauphin) to avoid confusion with the recently-launched Chevrolet Corvette.

Two limited editions of the Dauphine tuned for greater power were launched during its lifetime. Renault performance guru Amédée Gordini engineered a version of the Dauphine tuned to 37 hp (27.2 kW), sold as the Dauphine Gordini. In the final run of Dauphines, a limited edition of 2140 called the 1093, were similarly tuned to 55 hp (41 kW) and featured a twin barrel carburettor, rear track rods, four-speed manual transmission and tachometer, and had a top speed of 140 km/h (87 mph). The 1093 was only available in white with two blue stripes down each side.

The Dauphine's legacy is largely dominated by its infamously poor performance and bad handling, as well as its poor reliability.[citation needed] In many markets (particularly the

In a press statement produced in 1966, Renault stated that the Dauphine production had passed the million mark more quickly than any other car manufactured in Europe, with the first million coming up in just four years.[5] (Second, third and fourth places at that time went to the Renault 4 - 4½ year, the BMC Mini - 5½ years and the Fiat 600 - 7 years.[5]) 2,150,738 Dauphines were produced in its production run of 10 years.[6] In the United Kingdom, it was one of the first imported cars to sell in large numbers, in a market that was formerly dominated by British manufacturers and the local subsidiaries of American manufacturers.