The Sacred Fire of Juan María Traverso

The Renault coupe, which arrived on the Argentine market in 1981 and was produced in the country for ten years, is a symbol of the golden age of the TC2000.


When talking about the most emblematic cars of national motorsport, the coupe Renault Fuego occupies a special chapter. Presented to the public at the Geneva Motor Show From 1980, it arrived in the country in 1981 through imported units. He was so successful in Argentina that his national production lasted for a decade, while in France his life barely reached five years.

With a high level of equipment, innovation was its main characteristic with unprecedented technology up to that time such as the centralized remote locking “plip” type and the incorporation in a large series of unusual items such as electric window lifters, air conditioning, radio passes cassette, alloy wheels, etc.

Juan Maria Traverso
Traverso y la Fuego, from TC 2000 and street, during a production for CORSA in 1987.

The design of the Renault Fuego is attributed to Michel Jardin, Under the direction of Robert Opron. He used the same platform as the Renault 18But the body design, underlined by a ribbed black band from the optics to the curve of the trunk, was an absolute innovation. Even its name was original, since it broke with the numbering system used by the French brand since 1961.

One of the outstanding characteristics of the Fuego was its aerodynamics. With a factor of a coefficient of 0,34 was the best in the Renault range. An equally remarkable point was the soundproofing of its cabin, which is very bright and comfortable, and its “petal” type front seats that, with integrated head restraints, provided excellent lumbar support.

The Fuego coupe had five versions in Argentina, all from the company's factory in the Cordovan town of Santa Isabel. The first was the GTX, produced between 1982 and 1985. It was equipped with a 1.995 cm3 engine that delivered 103 hp. It was followed by GTX II in 1986. It had the same mechanics as its predecessor and the differences were in its interior with a new board. Between 1987 and 1988 the GTX II 2.2 with an impeller of 2.165 cm3 and 116 horses. It had a novelty on the local market: four-wheel disc brakes. It also stood out for its on-board computer with eight functions (average speed, distance traveled, average consumption, instantaneous consumption, time, outside temperature indicator, amount of fuel in the tank and autonomy).

The evolution continued with the GTA, which was marketed between 1989 and 1990. Its exterior appearance was much more modern thanks to the incorporation of various aesthetic details, while the power plant was the same as in the previous version. The last Fire was the spiciest: the Gta max, which was produced between 1989 and 1993. The engine was 2.165 cm3 and delivered 123 hp. The maximum speed was 198 km / h.

Renault Fuego
The Fuego Coupe is the winningest model in TC 2000 history with eight titles and 54 wins.

In total, between 1982 and 1993, 19.952 Fuego coupes were marketed in the country. And more than three decades after the start of its production, some can be seen on the street. So it is not surprising that there is Club Renault Fuego Argentina, which has subsidiaries in Buenos Aires, Rosario, the Atlantic Coast, San Luis, La Plata, Chacabuco and Córdoba.

Beyond the fact that the vehicle impressed for its design and performance, the large window was the TC2000. His arrival in the category occurred in 1985. The first users were Eduardo Usandizaga, Daniel Mustafá y Ernest Bessone. Only in 1986 was the model used by the Renault official team, which had changed its policy and left the Argentine Rally to get fully on the track. The team was run by Oreste Berta and had as a star pilot Juan Maria Traverso.

The Fire, the Magician and the Skinny were a forceful formula. The one from Ramallo won that 1986 title and then repeated in 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1993. In the middle they also celebrated with the mythical French product Silvio Oltra (1987) y Michelangelo Guerra (1989). In addition, he got 54 wins and it is the most winning model in the history of the category (the Honda Civic, which has 93 successes achieved with five different versions, is not counted).

The coupe was followed by other Renault models, but none matched its sporting successes. That is why it is still in the memory of the followers, as if it were branded by fire.

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Diego durruty

Journalist with 30 years of experience. Worked in magazines STROKE, The graphic, Coequipier y Only TC, on the Internet sites SportsYa!, e-driver.com y kmcero.com and on the radios Rock pop y Vorterix.com. He covered the Dakar rally for the German agency dpa. He currently drives Two Daring Guys, a car magazine that is broadcast on Tuesdays from 18 to 19 by RadioArroba.com; is editor of motorsport in Red Bull Argentina, columnist on the show WorldSport (AM Splendid) and in Surf & Rock FM.  He is also a teacher in SPORTS. Now you can read it on his blog: automundo.com.ar.

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