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Renault Espace- 1987


The Espace debuted in 1984, the same year as the Dodge Caravan. Both were pioneers in the Multi-Purpose Vehicle market. Designs for the Espace had been floating around Chrysler (UK) and SIMCA (France) for nearly a decade, eventually landing at Matra, who finalized the design and manufactured them for Renault.

The forward-slanting headlights and orange indicator housings – as seen on our 1987 model – gave the early Espace a unique face. From 1988 on, facelifted models moved to a more traditional slanted-back design with clear headlights.

What continued to differentiate the Espace’s look was its single box approach, versus the two or three box design of its peers. The interior of the Espace is home to seats that swivel and fold into a mobile office of sorts, a feature Renault marketed in period.

At the time of Espace’s debut, Renault held a controlling stake in American Motors Corporation. AMC planned to market the front-wheel drive Espace in the United States – and showed the van at the 1985 Chicago Auto Show – but plans for the U.S. market Espace fell through when AMC was purchased by Chrysler.

While the Espace eventually enjoyed huge success – with the fifth generation in production today – during Espace’s first month on sale, Renault managed to move only nine.

Though a couple generations on, no discussion of the Espace is complete without mention of the Espace F1. Circa 1995, to celebrate 10 years of Espace, Renault put a fiberglass body onto a carbon fiber chassis, and added their 789 horsepower, Formula One-based 3.5 litre V10 in the middle, and called it the Espace F1. Four-time Formula One champion Alain Prost lapped the supervan with seeming confidence around Circuit Paul Ricard in speeds in excess of 190 mph!

Manufacturer: Renault
Country of Origin: France
Drivetrain Configuration: Front-engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine: Water-cooled, 2.0 liter inline four-cylinder, 110 hp
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Top Speed: 110 mph
Years of Production: 1984-present
Number Produced: Over 500,000
Original Cost: 96,000 Francs ($10,740USD)