Renault Argentina (1978-1982)
|Assembly||Santa Isabel, Córdoba Province|
|Designer||Richard A. Teague and Pininfarina|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door hardtop coupé
|Engine||3.0 L (183 cu in) Jeep Tornado I6
3.77 L (230 cu in) I6
|Transmission||4-speed ZF manual
3-speed ZF automatic
|Wheelbase||107.2 in (2,723 mm)|
|Length||4,724 mm (186.0 in)|
|Width||1,798 mm (70.8 in)|
|Height||1,410 mm (55.5 in)|
|Curb weight||1,060 kg (2,337 lb)-1,471 kg (3,243 lb)|
The IKA Torino, later Renault Torino, is a mid-sized automobile made by Industrias Kaiser Argentina (IKA) under an agreement with American Motors Corporation (AMC) in 1966. The 1966 Torino was IKA’s first integral national product and IKA was eventually bought out by Renault in 1975 to form Renault Argentina S.A. The Torino was built on the same hybrid AMC platform all the way through 1981 in both two-door hardtop and four-door sedan variants. It has been called Argentina's national car.
1967 IKA Torino 300 4 door side view
From its inception by Kaiser Motors and the Argentinian government in 1955, IKA assembled vehicles that were designed elsewhere. By 1962, management wanted an automobile that would be better suited to their domestic market, one that "combined American ruggedness and European style." IKA and American Motors had signed an agreement for development and production of such a car in Argentina.
The Torino was developed by IKA as an Argentine hybrid of AMC's 1964-65 Rambler American and Classic with exclusively designed front and rear body panels, bumpers and interior. The central body section, the engine and trunk compartments derived from the 64-65 Rambler American. The rear coil suspension was borrowed from the Classic, albeit with a four link setup rather than a torque tube. One unique feature is the Torino's front unibody "frame rails" also borrowed from the Classic, they are longer than the American, extending all the way back under the car to the front of the rear rails. This made for a stiffer chassis, better adapting the car to the rougher road conditions of Argentina at the time. The Torino rode on a slightly longer wheelbase (than the American) by one inch - 2723 mm (107-inch). Although the engines were not obtained from American Motors, the vehicle's basic AMC platform continued throughout its lifetime. As upgrades were incorporated over the years, such as AMC's flush door handles, the Torino became mostly a product of Argentina with few imported parts.
The car's badging was based on the city of Turin's coat of arms. The symbol was a bull standing on its two hind legs, mimicking the prancing stallion symbol of Ferrari. The Argentine car's front end, rear fascia, and interior were redesigned by Italian auto stylists at Pininfarina to give it a more European look, as well as to make the Torino more appealing to the Argentine public and less like an American car. With the added exterior styling touches, as well as its unique trim and luxurious interior appointments, the Torino was truly a product of Argentina.
The Torino debuted on 30 November 1966, at the Municipal Racing circuit of Buenos Aires (which was used for the Formula One World Championship race annually).
Available initially was a high-performance version Torino 380 W, with three Weber two-barrel carburators, low exhaust restriction and other minor changes in engine specifications producing 176 hp (131 kW; 180 PS). A floor mounted shift ZF 4-speed manual transmission, front disc brakes, a Lucas electronics fully gauged wooden instrument panel and leather appointments were standard.
Between 1970 and 1976, the Torino was sold as a "luxury vehicle". Famous owners included Fidel Castro, Leonid Brezhnev, Muammar al-Gaddafi. and Juan Manuel Fangio.
From 1977, the top model became the Torino Grand Routier, a touring sedan. The entire range received some sheetmetal and design changes in 1978, (when IKA became Renault Argentina) though major panels such as the doors were carried over. The newer models were slightly longer and the later sedans can be recognized by their full C-pillar. Previously the rear window wrapped more into the sides.
In its heyday there were over twenty versions, but in its final year, the Torino was only available in two models (Grand Routier GR sedan and ZX Coupé). When production was ended by Renault in 1982, it was "a dark year for fellow car enthusiasts in Argentina." By the early 1980s, the smaller front-wheel drive Renault 12 was the best seller.
1970 IKA Torino 380 2 door side view
Rather than using AMC engines, the Torino was equipped with the 3.77 L (230 cu in) overhead camshaft (OHC) straight-six Jeep Tornado engines that were originally developed by Kaiser Motors in 1963 for the new Jeep Gladiator pickups and Wagoneer four wheel drive vehicles. This engine was produced in Argentina and increased the domestic or local sourced content of the car. In 1973, the engine received a major block and crankshaft refinement — seven main bearings instead of the original four.
Three models were available: a four-door sedan with 3.0 L (183 cu in) and 3-speed transmission, a two-door hardtop (pillarless) coupe with 3.0 L featuring a Holley carburetor and a four-speed ZF manual gearbox, as well as a top-of-the-line "380W" model equipped with an enlarged 3.77 L (230 cu in) engine with three horizontally mounted Weber two-barrel carburetors. The 3.77 L straight-six produced 215 horsepower (160 kW; 218 PS), making the 380W capable of a 205-kilometre-per-hour (127 mph) top speed.
The IKA Torino's most notable international success was in the 84 hour Nürburgring race of 1969, with a Torino finishing in fourth place. The factory shipped three cars to Germany and after the three and a half days of racing, the #3 Torino driven by Eduardo Copello, Alberto Rodriguez Larreta, and Oscar Mauricio Franco, had covered the most laps of all - 334, but lost the top position because they accumulated various penalties during the race. The IKA Torino became "the pride and joy of Argentine car enthusiasts" when their country's team "showed that it could run with the best of Europe on Europe’s toughest circuit." The #3 car is displayed in Juan Manuel Fangio Museum located in Balcarce, Buenos Aires Province, the birthplace of Argentina's Juan Manuel Fangio who dominated the first decade of Formula One racing.
The IKA Torino won the Turismo Carretera, a popular touring car racing series in Argentina in 1967 with Eduardo Copello, 1969 with Gastón Perkins, 1970 and 1971 with Rubén Luis di Palma.
The Torino is still being raced, albeit in silhouette form with Jeep Cherokee engines, in the Argentinian Turismo Carretera, TC4000, and Turismo Zonal categories.
By the late 1970s the Torino was the only non-Renault product manufactured by the French company. It could also be considered the last front-engine, rear wheel drive Renault, a rarity in itself.
Many Argentines think of the Torino as the national car, it became popular with the tuning industry, parts are still available and fan clubs abound.
1967 IKA Torino 380