There’s a reason why military planes are often painted grey. Well, three reasons, really. First of all, if you paint the underside of a plane grey, it can blend in with the sky more easily when seen from below. Secondly, and similarly, if you paint the top of it grey then it can camouflage itself on the runway tarmac when viewed from above. And thirdly, and most significantly, if you slather your fighter jet in radiation-absorbent iron-ball paint, it’ll be pretty much invisible to radar. That, and it’ll out-fox heat-seeking missiles somewhat. All in all, the stealthy properties of grey sell themselves when it comes to hiding in plain sight.
This is very much the reason that the Renault Clio you’re looking at here is vinyl-wrapped in matt grey. Can’t see it? No, it’s a strong camo. Squint your eyes a bit. Take another peek. Got it? Yeah, it’s pretty eye-catching once you have your crosshairs locked onto it, isn’t it? But its ability to initially waft past you undetected is exactly the means by which its owner, Geoffrey De Moor, sneaks in hushed tones past the Belgian police. “I got tired of them pulling me over and forcing me to the MoT station,” Geoffrey laughs. “So I decided to hide.”
But let’s rewind a little. Why a Clio and why now? “Well, my first car was a Clio rather like this one,” says Geoffrey. “That was my first project car.” Deciding to stick with what he knew, the little French hatchback’s inevitable replacement was more of the same. After all, he knew his way around them, so the modifications could start straight away.
“I’d owned it for about five minutes before the coilovers went on!” he laughs. “My dad collected it from its previous owner and brought it back, and as soon as it was off the trailer I had the suspension from my old Clio bolted in there. And from that point on there were new changes coming every month, all sorts of crazy ideas, until it stood as it does today”.
Some of those crazy ideas have involved a little bit of lateral thinking. You’ll have spotted, for example, that it’s sitting pretty low – the sort of lows that you can’t comfortably achieve by rolling static. And you’d be right. The coilovers didn’t actually stay on for too long, as Geoffrey wanted to really shave some grass. However, rather than going the scene-default route of air-ride, he’s opted for a properly old-school hydraulic setup from our old mates at Rayvern Hydraulics.
“It’s all the police’s fault,” he shrugs. “After about a year of owning the car, I got pulled over and forced to get the car tested. And of course it wasn’t at all okay by Belgian law, so I had to go before a judge and receive a fine. Hence the grey wrap. Because of the slap on the wrist I had to make the Clio a little less stanced, so I went for more of a track setup. But since then I’ve bought a Dacia Logan as a daily, the urge to get the Clio back down on the ground was too strong to resist!”
In his quest for the ideal stance, he figured hydros were the way to go. “It offers everything I want from the car – it handles like a dream on track, and I love the look on people’s faces when I drop it on the floor.”
The thinking behind the whole project is something that’ll probably be familiar to most of you out there. Geoffrey chose the car simply because he liked the look of it. He fancied changing a few bits and pieces. One thing led to another and the whole shebang just snowballed. It’s been a real communal experience too, with the ever-evolving Renault being put together in his garage with the help of his friends. The internet, naturally, helped to fuel the fire, with a ready supply of inspiration pouring through the tubes via Instagram, blogs and forums, and Geoffrey’s passions ran hot as he sought out unusual and unique aesthetic touches. The interior is one area in which he’s really gone to town, demonstrating an obsession with carbon- fibre that’d make an F1 design team blush.
“The Recaro Trendlines have been reshelled with carbon-fibre backs, as well as being retrimmed in Alcantara and leather,” he says. “The steering wheel is carbon too, as are the doorcards and so is the inner boot skin, the dash trim, the B- and C-pillars.” We have to stop him at this point, as it’s obvious he’s getting carried away. You can’t argue with the results though, can you? All that deliciously shiny carbon, just exposed with a shimmering red Wiechers cage, it all speaks of a premium motorsport vibe. Combine that with the purposefully flocked dash and the knowledge that Geoffrey regularly takes the thing on track, and there must be something pretty fiery under the bonnet, right?
“Er, no,” he says. “It’s a 1.4.” But this is all in line with Belgian laws frowning on engine swaps, and he’s pepped it up a little with the usual exhaust and induction, along with some Forge bits, solid engine mounts and a short-shift. We’re looking at about 100bhp. Hey, it’s not the size, it’s what you do with it that counts.
It’s all wrapped up in a pretty compelling package too. Literally, in the sense of the vinyl that Geoffrey applied himself, with his mate Sven painting the door shuts to match, but also figuratively in terms of the custom stylistic efforts. The car wears French- market Clio Campus bumpers (the Campus being a budget run-out model Mk2 that continued to be sold alongside the new Mk3) and, inevitably, there are carbon-fibre bits liberally sprinkled about the place.
But of course.
The eagle-eyed will also spot a certain amount of girth bursting out across the back end. Those rear arches have been teased out two-inches apiece to accommodate the wider rims. “I had a couple of different sets of wheels on there over the years, but I wanted something that’d really stand out,” says Geoffrey. “I picked these O.Z Turbos up for a bargain price, but they needed a bit of work to make them my own. The centres are painted grey to match the body, the outers are polished, and they have wide Radinox lips.” Indeed, the rears are a brutal 8.5 inches wide, which makes for a Kardashian-esque booty on something as slender as a Clio.
“Life with this car is all ups and downs,” he says airily. “I’ve pretty much broken everything on it, including an engine and two gearboxes. But I still love it. It’s about the memories – like the two weeks Sven and I spent on smoothing the body when it was two degrees outside, and we just set up a heater and powered through.”
This car is all about camaraderie. It’s part lowrider, part track-slag, part carbon-fibre showcase, and all heart. And he’s not going to let the rozzers put the kibosh on that.
￼OWNER: GEOFF DE MORR
TECH SPEC: CLIO 1.4
Matt grey vinyl wrap; door shuts painted to match; carbon-fibre front badge; bonnet; rear wiper delete and mirror caps; single wiper; shortened Renault Espace splitter; OEM Clio Campus Ph5 bumpers; smoothed boot and rubstrip recesses; rear arches widened 2in; custom headlights with projectors and HID; LED taillights; Trophy/V6 spoiler; window visors.
1.4 16v; Pipercross carbon-fibre induction with custom alloy intake; Forge alloy coolant tank; D1 Spec voltage stabiliser; custom exhaust; solid engine mounts; short-shift.
7.5x15in (front) and 8.5x15in (rear) O.Z Turbo with polished outers, grey centres and Radinox lips, 2in (front) and 3in (rear); Rayvern Hydraulics with remote control; notched chassis; solid top mounts; custom camber plates; 10mm front spacers; carbon-fibre strut brace; braided brake lines.
Wiechers rollcage; Recaro Trendlines retrimmed in carbon-fibre; Alcantara and leather; flocked dash; Alcantara headlining; oil temp and pressure gauges, custom doubleDIN stereo & nav; Rockford Fosgate components; carbon-fibre steering wheel with OMP boss; carbon-fibre handbrake; carbon-fibre inner boot skin; rear seat delete; custom-trimmed boot; carbon-fibre doorcards; dash trim and B and C-pillar trim; Rayvern piston block.
Thanks to my girlfriend, Jessica de Mey, for her never-ending patience with me modding the Clio; also Jeroen Goossens, Ken Leemans and Sven Roelandt.
Words Daniel Bevis Photos Kevve.Be