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The Spider was produced from 1996 until 1999.
The idea for the Renault Spider was formulated in the early 1990s: in the midst of a revival after a difficult second half of the 1980s, Renault wanted a car to promote it as a sporting brand. The Spider was intended to both serve as a racing car, in a one-make series organized by Renault, and as a road car. The first prototypes for Project W94, as it was known at the time, were completed in mid-1994 and a concept version was presented to the public at the Genev Motor Show a year later. The car went on sale in early 1996, assembled at the Alpine factory in Dieppe. Left hand drive versions were first produced with an aeroscreen device the same as the race cars. In 1997, a version with a full glass windscreen and wiper was made available.
Approximately 1800 cars were produced through 1999. The UK market only imported the windscreen version and 100 right hand drive cars were produced.
Designed from the outset as a driver's car, the chassis was made of aluminium for its combination of low weight and substantial strength, while the actual bodywork is a plastic composite. Unusually, the Spider did not have a roof, either folding or hard-top. The gearbox and the engine were one unit transversally fixed in an oscillating hinge (an arrangement inspired by aeronautical design), which all but eradicated the interference of engine vibration with the chassis, and the pedals of the Spider were adjustable as well as the seat so the driver could achieve a better driving position. Power for the Spider came from a version of the 2-litre F7R engine from the Clio Williams and Mégane coupé, producing 150 PS. Either a windscreen or a small wind deflector was fitted, with the driver wearing a helmet in vehicles without a windscreen.