Ultimate swap: Renault F1 V10 yields Espace F1 Concept

We always admire engine swaps done by ordinary people in their own garages. Usually a SHO or Chevy LSx engine into a front wheel drive car or a classic. Often with real challenges in engine placement or electrical wiring.

Here’s a swap that we’re probably  not going to see any private individual take on… a state of the art (1994) Formula 1 engine… from Renault… and into a mini-van.  We haven’t come across a Formula 1 engine swap before… much less into a mini-van.

The Espace F1 Concept was built by Matra for Renault and introduced at the 1994 Paris auto show. But while Renault labels it as a concept, it would never be built in series production. And not only was it a running concept, it was demonstrated at speed on an F1 racetrack as shown in the images and videos below.

Espace F1 Concept was based on a second-generation Renault Espace, which was built from 1991 to 1997. It has a unique carbon fiber chassis and a body recreated in carbon fiber. The engine is an 800 horsepower 3.5 liter DOHC 4V engine with a 6-speed semi-automatic gearbox as used by the Williams team in 1993. The engine placement is the same as the F1 car, mid-engine. The “van” would accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 2.8 seconds – not fast but just starting to warm up. 0-200 was 6.9 seconds and the top speed was 312 (194 mph). Certainly aero limited!

The  Espace F1 Concept is currently located in the Matra Museum in Romorantin, France (south of Paris). The museum is currently open 7 days per week, except Tuesdays and holidays. Check the site for up-to-date information.

Sharing the same engine, the Williams FW15C and Renault Espace F1 Concept.
Press photo released by Renault
Interior: 4 race buckets. Engine has its intake cover taken off in this photo, otherwise the rear seat passengers would be sucked into it at speed and the front passengers would suffocate in a split second!
At speed under test.
At home in the Matra Museum.