Ace Cafe French Night – June 2015

During the course of a month, there are plenty of different themes for the evening meetings at the legendary Ace Cafe. I’ve been attending the Italian Car night (second Thursday of the month) for several years now, and have also managed to experience quite a few of the Classic Night (second Tuesday) and Petrolhead Nirvana (second Monday), all of which continue to prove enjoyable with a disparate and largely unpredictable showing of cars that merit a closer inspection and photography. A couple of the other themed evenings that I sampled some while ago persuaded me that not every evening would be to my taste, with lots of rather heavily modified BMWs and Mercedes constituting the bulk of cars at the evening for those brands, and Old Skool Ford clearly had troubles of its own as the entire event was banned by the venue for a while. So with a free Monday evening, and the prospect of some fine weather I was unsure whether to head straight to my hotel or to deviate via the Cafe for French Car Night. The event is billed as for French Car Classics and Moderns, and in my mind, I had this nagging doubt that I was going to find nothing more than a bunch of highly modified Citroen Saxos. The only way to find out whether my apprehensions were justified was to give it a go, accepting that I could be making a very brief visit indeed. Despite it being a lovely sunny evening, there were not that many cars present, and just one of them was the sort of heavily modified machine that I did not particularly relish seeing in quantity. Classics were thin on the ground, so there was not that much of interest, but it was not a completely wasted trip.


I’ve seen one of these Renault R12TL saloons at this venue before. Immaculate in every day, it is clearly a prized possession of its owner who takes great care in preserving its originality. Once a common sight on our roads the R12 disappeared a long time ago, with just a handful remaining in the UK, so it was particularly agreeable to see a second car here. I don’t think the paint finish was an original colour, but even so this one also looked good. Both reminded us of the days when Renault made class leading cars with plenty of space and arm chair like soft and squashy seats of supreme comfort.

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Most of the remaining cars were Clios. Of these, the most collectible are the mad-cap V6 models which were offered in two distinct phases from 2001 to 2005.

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Also evident were a number of the sporting 4 cylinder cars, with second and third generation cars on show.

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Antecedent to the Clio was the R5 “Supercinq” and there were several of the GT Turbo versions of this supermini here. This car lived somewhat in the shadow of the Peugeot 205 GTi, though when new there were a number who thought the Renault the “better” car. Few of the survivors are totally original these days and that was manifest in those that were present, with most of them sporting different grille and front end treatments. The cars had a notorious reputation for flat spots and difficulties in starting them when warm thanks to fuel vaporisation in the carburettor, so perhaps these mods were aimed at helping that, although it could be simply people trying to alter the looks to match their personal taste.

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The larger Megane hit the bulls eye with the RenaultSport versions of the second generation car, earning it lots of praise from enthusiasts for the transformation from a humdrum family hatchback into something that was particularly sparkling to drive, with every revision and addition to the range proving even better than the last.

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Not a French car, though there is a connection as the engine and gearbox are the Douvrin built 2.7 litre V6 that was used by Renault, Peugeot and Volvo in their top models from 1975 for many years, so this car was left parked up over the road. Plenty of people spotted it, though, and it took quite a while before the photographer got an uninterrupted view.

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This was an interesting diversion between the office and the hotel, though nothing like as busy as I was hoping for, and rather devoid of the classic Citroens that I had hoped just might have been part of the display. Of course, it is quite possible that next month will see such cars. If my diary is clear, I propose to stop by and see what is there in July.

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