Renault Gordini: A Retrospective on an Icon of French Racing

If you were to compile a list of the most significant French cars in motorsport history, it would be incomplete without mentioning the remarkable Renault Gordini. The Gordini name has become a byword for sporty performance and a unique, quintessentially French style of automotive engineering. Yet, the roots of Gordini are far from ostentatious, being deeply intertwined with the story of one man - Amédée Gordini.

Known affectionately as "Le Sorcier" (The Sorcerer), Amédée Gordini was an Italian-born mechanic and race car driver who immigrated to France. He began his motorsport career in the 1930s, participating in various races and developing a reputation as a tenacious driver and an ingenious engineer.

Following World War II, Gordini started his own company, Gordini, focusing on building and tuning racing cars. His talent and dedication caught the attention of Renault, leading to one of the most influential collaborations in French motorsport history.

In 1956, Renault reached out to Gordini with an enticing proposition: to inject some much-needed performance DNA into their cars. Gordini accepted, thus beginning an era of Renault cars being graced by the famous "Gordini" badge.

The first Renault-Gordini collaboration was the Dauphine Gordini, a sportier version of the Renault Dauphine. But it was the Renault 8 Gordini, introduced in 1964, that truly put Gordini on the map. The R8 Gordini was a humble family car turned rally monster, boasting a four-cylinder engine and four-wheel disc brakes, a rarity for its time. Decked in French racing blue with two characteristic white stripes, it quickly became an icon in the rally scene.

As the Gordini name grew in renown, it continued to influence Renault's performance models. It became a symbol of Renault's commitment to bringing racing technology to the streets, marking the cars that bore its name as machines bred for speed and agility.

While Amédée Gordini passed away in 1979, his legacy lived on. The Gordini name continued to grace Renault's top-performance models, and it remains a legendary figure in the world of French motorsport. As we delve into the rich history of the Renault Gordini, it's clear that its story is more than just a tale of engineering prowess – it's a testament to one man's passion for speed and his undying love for motorsport.

Breathing New Life into a Legend: The 3-Stud Wheel Reinvention

The story of the Renault Gordini continues today, infused with fresh enthusiasm from a new generation of aficionados and tinkerers. A remarkable instance of this is when a dedicated Gordini enthusiast from the Netherlands reached out to us with a distinctive request. The mission: to recreate the classic 3-stud wheel in a modern 15-inch size for his cherished Gordini.

The original 3-stud design is synonymous with the Gordini, presenting a striking aesthetic that, despite its age, still manages to captivate and impress. However, crafting such an iconic wheel with updated dimensions wasn't just a matter of upscaling. It required a careful design process, a deep understanding of the Gordini's unique style, and a commitment to maintaining the spirit of the original while bringing it up to contemporary standards.

After several weeks of meticulous design revisions and discussions, we finally settled on a design that retained the spirit of the original 3-stud wheel while updating its dimensions to a modern 15-inch size. Our primary material choice was T6-6061 aluminium, a high-strength alloy often used in aviation and marine applications for its excellent fatigue resistance and high corrosion resistance.

The T6-6061 aluminium allowed us to achieve the strength needed for modern-day driving scenarios while maintaining a lightweight profile, vital for preserving the Gordini's agile and spirited driving dynamics. This material choice also presented a superb canvas to reflect the distinct aesthetic appeal of the original 3-stud wheel.

Once the design was finalized and the materials selected, the manufacturing process commenced. Meticulous attention was paid to each step, from the initial cutting and forming to the final finishing, ensuring that each wheel was a perfect fit for the Gordini it was destined to be part of.

The final result was nothing short of extraordinary. The updated 3-stud wheels, crafted with precision and care, complemented the Gordini beautifully. They embodied the essence of the classic design, yet felt right at home on the modern road, a testament to the timeless allure of the Gordini's distinctive style.

This project served as a compelling reminder of the enduring appeal of the Renault Gordini and its influence in the world of motorsport and car culture. By reinventing the classic 3-stud wheel for a modern size, we were not just providing a service to a passionate enthusiast; we were paying homage to the rich history and heritage of the Gordini, a car that continues to inspire and captivate to this day.

July 21, 2023 — Isaac Brain