It didn’t take long for Ford’s idea to transform its Transit into Supervans, complete with a racing engines to enhance and promote its victories, to be imitated: in 1994, to celebrate two Formula 1 World Titles and 20 years of success of the Espace model, Renault presented an authentic and decidedly captivating monster.
It was an Espace, identical to the one made for daily use, but it had a carbon fibre shell and bodywork instead of fiberglass, and the Formula 1 V10 mounted centrally in the chassis at the expense – but what use would they have had for that? – of the space to comfortably accommodate passengers!
Already mightily impressive on the outside with its racing set-up, the large slick tyres and the very evident air intakes and exhausts, the Espace F1 had a unique peculiarity: its engine, mounted inside the passenger compartment, with the unobstructed air intakes guaranteeing a truly unrepeatable sound experience for the lucky occupants. For many don’t know this, but it’s the air intakes that give engines their most beautiful and exciting notes.
Built at Matra, the Renault Group company that had been producing the Espace since the early 80s, it produced somewhere north of 800 horsepower and was capable of accelerating from zero to 100 km/h in 2.8 seconds, with a top speed of 312 km/h. Among the many innovations introduced was the six-speed, semi-automatic sequential gearbox, controlled by the steering wheel and introduced by Ferrari in racing in 1989.