Ever seen a Twingo show-winner? Neither had we until we clapped eyes on Josh Daniels’ limited-edition RenaultSport Gordini stunner here. Here’s living proof that you really can make anything badass with a bit of imagination…
“I was actually on the hunt for a new Fiesta when I spotted this car. I remember sitting in it and thinking ‘meh, it’s a Twingo’…” apprentice electrician Josh here happily admits. It’s a reaction we wouldn’t be surprised many of you out there to share if you crossed paths with one of Renault’s infamous superminis, either.
So just how did our South Wales-based owner end up not only snapping up that very car, but also transform it into one of the finest modified examples the world over, we hear you cry? As we found out, it’s a fascinating tale of choosing to be different and using a tonne of creative vision, and we’re about to explain why…
“I was lucky enough to have a one-litre Saxo as my first car, you know the really rubbish one with the black bumpers,” Josh laughs as he looks back on his patchy motoring history. Not that the Saxo stayed that way for long, though… “My brother-in-law Adam is also a massive car nut and has helped me modify my cars from day one. Together we ended up doing a 106 GTI engine conversion on the Citroen, which was pretty cool.”
With his next few budget hatches being treated to equally-as-interesting modifications, Josh gradually grew tired of owning ageing motors, hoping to bag something a little newer to help him with his daily commuting commitments in a little more comfort and style. Which brings us nicely back to the fateful day where he copped eyes on this quirky little slice of Renault’s hot hatch history here.
“I noticed it was a limited-edition RenaultSport Twingo Gordini edition, so it had all the mod cons, even cruise control!” Josh continues, admitting his interest was piqued as he learnt more about this 1.6-litre screamer which was branded as something of a wolf in sheep’s clothing upon its release. Keen to try something different, he took a punt and snapped up the car, before him and Adam took it home to inspect just what on earth it was they’d actually bought.
“It drives immensely – like a little go kart,” Josh admits, explaining how the car performed faultlessly for around six months in standard trim before attending a few tuner shows caused the modifying itch to bubble up once again. “I found a few modified examples online after a bit of digging, and noticed that most had tried to focus on the engine. It seems so highly strung as it is, though, and I didn’t fancy doing another engine swap, so I decided to try and turn it into a full-on show car instead.”
Sporting some coilovers and 3SDM alloys for the first year of show duties, Josh really wanted to step things up to avoid people getting bored of the car the following season. Luckily, Adam was also in a very similar position at the time… “Adam has a Mk1 Focus RS and was keen to put it on air suspension,” he explains. “We decided to take both the cars over to The Install Company in Leicester and two weeks later, they were both a whole lot lower!”
Ditching the RenaultSport’s ‘Cup’ suspension for a set of Air Lift Performance’s finest struts and bags isn’t something you’ll see a Twingo owner do every day, but the results spoke for themselves the moment Josh clapped eyes on his Twingo when the work was complete. “It was on standard wheels at the time which meant it was tucking loads!” he grins, knowing his next purchase would have to be a set of wider, bigger rims to get suitably poking out of those bubbly arches.
The Fifteen52 Tarmacs he settled on may match the car’s smooth, uncluttered bodywork perfectly, but it took a little bit of work to get them singing in the same key as the car. “They poked out too much when I aired out at first, so Phil from The Install Company machined the offset to ET36 which seems to be just right now. In the future I might switch from 17in to 16in diameter wheels to get it sitting even lower, though…”
The wheels and suspension weren’t the only things receiving an overhaul, with Josh spurred on by a hugely positive reaction at the shows he was hitting up (including a Top 10 trophy at the prestigious Players Classic event, no less) to get the exterior of the car freshened up to match. This involved removing the signature Gordini twin viper stripes that travelled from the front to the back of the car and smoothing out several of the panels to really get that tasty Malta Blue paintwork popping. “The smoothing work has meant that a lot of people don’t even know what car it is anymore, which is always funny!” he smiles.
Phil had performed a seriously tasty boot install to show off Josh’s twin VIAIR compressors and massive Rockford Fosgate sub in the rear half of the car as he’d grafted on the suspension, and Josh was keen to raise the bar of the rest of the interior to match. As a result, some sexy Recaro CS pews were snapped up from a RenaultSport Clio and trimmed up in black leather and blue stitching, which was repeated around the rest of the car’s innards, along with smatterings of Alcantara and carbon fibre until the cabin became classier than Idris Elba’s wardrobe. One of our favourite touches has to be that factory steering wheel which he’s not only re-trimmed with carbon fibre up top, but made into a flat-bottom affair to really bring out this car’s RenaultSport heritage!
“It actually is still my daily driver; I drive it to and from Cardiff to work every day so it still does about 200 miles of commuting a week,” Josh surprisingly reveals, admitting that every single one of those miles is nothing but a pleasure now he’s got the car to where he wants it. “I still try and enjoy it by driving it hard on weekends; the air suspension handles like a dream. And as it’s also my show car, I clean it probably more than I should to make up for it, too.” Just goes to show that you should always listen to your heart, not the latest trends, when creating your dream ride!
TECH SPEC RENAULTSPORT TWINGO GORDINI
Factory Malta Blue body with Gordini stripes removed; smoothed and de-badged front bumper; smoothed boot lid; Mk1 Focus RS front splitter; KAM Racing rear diffuser; carbon fibre rear wiper delete bung; carbon fibre front wiper cover; carbon fibre fog light inserts; Audi Daytona Grey Pearl fog light surrounds and wing mirror covers.
1.6-litre 16v K4M RS engine; K&N panel air filter; Pro-Bolt anodised bolts; detailed engine bay; five-speed manual gearbox.
8x17in ET35 Fifteen52 Tarmac alloy wheels; Air Lift Performance air suspension system (with 3P management, twin VIAIR 444c compressors and custom Air Lift Performance struts and bags); factory brakes.
Factory Recaro CS reclining bucket seats re-trimmed in black leather with blue stitching and Alcantara backs; door cards and mats re-trimmed to match seats; custom re-trimmed steering wheel with carbon fibre top section and flat bottom; carbon fibre speedo and rev counter surrounds; flocked centre console, pillars, door surrounds and interior mirror; re-trimmed headlining; rear air ride/ICE install with colour-coded air tank and LEDS; Kenwood head unit; In Phase mid, tweeters and rear speakers; In Phase amplifier; Rockford Fosgate 10in sub woofer.
Big thanks to my brother-in-law Adam for all the help and advice along the way; Phil at The Install Company for doing an awesome build and sorting the wheels; Up To Scratch for all the body and paint work; Dave at Autotec Newport for all the flocking; Rayo and the boys at Grange Service Station for all the stuff on the maintenance-side of the car and last but not least the rest of my family for all the support along the way, especially my father who sadly passed away seven years ago – he originally got me into cars from a very young age and was car mad himself, being a paint sprayer. I’d like to think he’d love the car if he could see it now.
Words Sam Preston Photos Jon Davies