Category Archives: An Aspie’s Favourite Things

This series of blogs is where I write about some of my favourite things (some people might call them obsessions), but I call them “intense interests.”

An Aspie’s Obsession, Renault – My Dream

This will be the final Renault blog post, for now. The R8 was a good little car. I would take one in stock condition and be very happy. Of course, stock means rebuilt to new specification so that it might be reliable. But, given the opportunity, I would like to hot rod one a bit with a philosophy of greater efficiency in both speed and fuel economy. Here some of the things I would like to do in addition to a good, standard rebuild:
Cleanup combustion chambers and exhaust ports
Hard valve inserts with 7 angle grind
Thermal barrier coatings on:
Combustion chamber roofs
Exhaust ports
Valves; all, both sides
Piston crowns
Low friction coating on piston sides
Gapless piston rings:
Total Seal ductile iron with Gapless top
compression, and Napier second,
lowest recommended tension
Forged pistons, floating pins
Aerodynamic crankshaft leading edge
Windage tray
Heavy metal balance, high balance factor:
Rotating assembly
Microplate timing gears
IF Possible:
Competition Cams HE 262 camshaft
Roller valve train – if not’ use low
friction coatings
Stainless valves, possibly tuliped intake, stock diameter
Dual point distributor
4 carburettors: Mikuni CV motorcycle type on custom individual intake runners:
Common intake plenum
Intake bells
Calculate for ram induction
Cold air induction
Manual choke and carb heat
Great care to taken in design of fuel feed
More efficient exhaust
Electric cooling fan
A couple of additional instruments
IF Possible: turbo compounding
Microplate all transaxle gears
Stronger differential
Motorcycle like hand clutch lever on shifter
Aeroquip brake hoses
Racing fuel cell with exterior filler
Stock size but modern high pressure tyres
More aerodynamic exterior mirrors
Synthetic lubricants everywhere
Oh boy, would that be fun? Yes! I think the result would be a wonderful little car. I would love to test my theories. However, no, it will not happen. I am poor as dirt! I can still dream. And I can gaze at Teeny Gordini. Teeny Gordini is beautiful!

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An Aspie’s Obsession, Renault – Gordini!

Ahhh, the Gordini. There was a time in which economy cars were not capable of ten second zero to sixty times and feature power seats. Way back in the old days (When did I become a geezer?) there were factory hot rods. In the USA we had Thunderbolts, and GTOs, and Roadrunners – oh my! Europe had some cool cars too.

Many companies had sedans worked over either in house or by an outside company. And so there were fast little boxes like: Saab Monte Carlo, Mini Cooper, FIAT Abarth, Fast Cortinas, NSU TT, and others. A company founded by (I think his first name was Amado) Gordini worked on Renaults.
Take an R8. Change the cylinder head to a cross flow type. Add better carburettors, and a free flowing exhaust, I’d bet it was re cammed. The car has now about 90 HP rather than the stock 46. Alter the gearbox to have 5 speeds, up from 4, and a four spider differential to handle the power. Lower the car just a bit to get the centre of gravity and suspension roll centres down, and decamber the rear tyres. Stiffer springs and shocks. . .

Let’s compare a 1965 Renault 8 Gordini to Porsche’s best of that year, the 356 Super 90. Each has about 90 HP. Each has four wheel disc brakes. The Porsche is sleeker, but the Renault weighs a few hundred pounds less. The Renault has better front suspension and steering. The Renault has one more gear ratio. The Gordini was, for its day, a snorting quick little car.

It would be fun to say that the Gordinis rolled over their competition. They did not. Remember all those other cars I mentioned? All of them were inspired engineering made real and good. All of them did well in tough competition. The Cooper modded Minis were probably the winningest of the lot.
But, the gordini was a Renault, and I like that! And the Renault was arguably the most practical base sedan of the lot, and the Gordini probably would be the best to own today. Cars of this type are still raced, all are still fun. A Gordini would be the best daily driver.

There are some great vids of Renault 8 Gordinis available online. One is of a Renault factory driver showing off a Gordo way back then, and redoing that demonstration just a few years ago. Another is an in car look at tachometer and speedometer as an 1135 cc Gordo reaches 104 MPH on an open road. Imagine that: a 1965 four door sedan with less than 70 cubic inches and not an overhead cam in sight pulling one oh four! And the song it sings! Listen with headphones or so much of the melody will be lost. Such cars as the Gordini are overachievers, like me. I was recommended for placement into an institution. Each day I am free, I am exceeding my expectations! I like overachievers! Long live the Renault Gordini!

Mine is but 3.5 inches in length. Long live Teeny Gordini!

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An Autistic Obsession, Renault – 3

My family never owned a Renault, and neither have I. By the time I might have, the company had left the United States; one more European automaker of marginal standing in our market, leaving about the time of emissions laws. Still, I recall the cars, and have a long term love of the 8.
Most of the small European cars of the sixties would fare poorly in current America. Most of them were marginal at best even during their era. European cars were designed for Europe, and so unsuited to America’s speeds and distances. Very few remained working for long here. The Volkswagen could, and so could the Renault 8. As I said, my family owned Volkswagens.
Compared to a VW beetle of 1962, the R8 would fare quite well.
The Renault had a larger interior, accessible by four doors, and equipped with soft and reclining front seats. The R8 had real ventilation, and a heater that actually worked and not kill you with carbon monoxide.
The Renault rode and handled better; its disc brakes would have been a revelation for drivers of nearly anything else. It was quicker and smoother and its fuel use was approximately 35 MPG, and that with early sixties technology, like carburettor and points ignition! Oh, and it might just run more than one hundred thousand miles before the need major work.
They were not perfect. They were good. An original 1962 R8 would probably not make many US citizens happy in 2011. They had power nothing, no computers, no blue tooth; but this was 1962, nearly fifty years ago. A RB, stock would be usable in 2011. Of course, I would like mine hot rodded – just a bit.
But before I get to that, on to the Gordini. Next time. Be there or be square.

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Renault, An Aspie’s Obsession – 2

The Type 8 was the final iteration of rhe rear engine Renault, and the best (The 10 was a facelifted 8) of the series. The basic formula of the cars did not change from the 1946 introduction of 4CV (Quattre Chevaux, or four tax horsepower). What did change was performance and size and refinement. From 4CV to Dauphine through the sporty Floride and Caravelle cabriolets the bloodline flowed with gradual improvement. Then in 1962 the R8 debuted.
The design formula was simple:
Four door unit body of pressed / welded steel
Independent suspension featuring A arms in front and pure swing axles in back, with coil springs all around
Longitudinally mounted rear engine, being a liquid cooled iron block inline four cylinder pushrod four stroke
This was a good specification for 1946. It was still good in 1962. Along the way the cars grew larger than 4CV in steps. Then with R8 the car was changed for use in America. The R8 had the larger Cleon engine with 5 main bearings. This was the second automotive engine in the world (Renault’s new 4 was first.) to have a hermetically sealed cooling system. The new R8 had 4 wheel disc brakes! This was before Ferrari or Porsche or Corvette!
The new Renault carried Dauphin’s clever spare tyre available under the floor of the front boot without unloading a thing. It could still be started by crank if necessary. It had oh-so-French disc steel wheels with vent holes, pie plate wheel covers equipped with centre bolts to keep them mounted even whilst traversing rough roads. It had very French soft and reclining front seats.
Taken as a whole, the R8 was a superior small car for 1962. I could sense and appreciate this at time. Myy family owned Volkswagens.
Stay tuned!

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Renault, an Aspie’s Obsession 1

I have tweeted many times that I would like very much to have a Renault, preferably an R8, a 10 would be just fine, an 8 Gordini would be awesome. I thought that I would take a few blog postings to explain why I so like this car as specific among so many automobiles. Why, when there are Bentleys and Corvettes, would I want a 1960′s small sedan? I think this may serve as a look inside an AspieMind.
I have always liked small cars. I like efficiency. I like the direct feel of a lightweight car. I like a car not so much larger than myself, it is more personal, more akin to a motorcycle. I have always liked small foreign cars: Saab 2 stroke, Daffodile, FIAT, Lancia, Messerschmidt, NSU, Morris Minor, Hillman Minx, Austin Mini, Crosley, King Midget, Isetta. . .
I like engineering. I have a dual soul wherein engineering is felt emotionally, deeply, as an art. When I behold a work of clever engineering I feel a connexion both with that object and with the engineer(s) who designed it. I like this feeling.
I find small car far more engaging than costly car engineering. I think it trivially easy to engineer a car to be produced as a quarter million dollar toy. Design of a car to find a mass market is to accept essential compromises of design arising from a low intended sales price, and large production quantity. A small inexpensive car is a tool not a toy, and it will be expected to actually run and be useful!
Cars used to have definite personalities which reflected the design philosophies of the engineering staffs and companies employing them. In the modern world, computers and marketing studies dull the human element of design. Modern cars are excellent; modern cars are also bland. I like a car that will respond well to my touch. I like not so much repair as maintenance. Modern cars need little maintenance, they do not need me.
I like French cars. Whether the beyond wonderful creations of Ettore Bugatti, or the less known Amilcar, Citroen – especially the 2CV, or Panhard or Delahaye, or Voisin; there is something to these machines that I like. The Renault R8 is a cleverly engineered small practical car of French design, and old enough to be pre computer. How could I fail to like them? And I have since they were in production!
A person loving are would probably like very much to own a fine work, not to gain praise from others, not for ego. A person who loves are would like to own a piece of art for the exaltation of their own soul. I would love to own a Renault for these reasons. I never will. However, I can appreciate from afar.
Oh, there are other French marques that I like. I decided to spare you Full Metal Aspie mode. And there will be more to come.

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