Nick McHardy header image

The Lutecia Story

(Apologies for the long read - pics are at the bottom!)

Well, for a while now I’ve been fancying to “JDM” my Clio by swapping the rear badge for a “Lutecia” badge. You see, the Clio is sold in Japan as a “Lutecia” because Honda own the copyright to the name “Clio” in Japan.

I do quite like the debadged look on an RS, but since the Clio II has 2 holes being the “Clio” badge, I didn’t fancy completely removing this one.

Anyways, so recently I went on a 3 week holiday in Japan and thought it might be an idea to hit up the local dealer and see if they could sell me a badge, or at the very least order one in. I have a quote for $70 shipped to me and thought that’s probably a bit much for kicks… so surely they would be cheaper in Japan?

I wandered into RENAULT TOKYO-ARIAKE (http://www.tokyobay-ariake.jp/) which is located on a large (read: huge, kilometres) reclaimed island in the middle of Tokyo Bay. I left it until the last day of my holiday, merely hours before flying home. The guys in the workshop didn’t speak much English at all and after using Yahoo translator a lot to try and get my idea of ordering a badge across, I pretty much gave up. They didn’t know how much to charge me for the badge and ordering it in (despite me having a part number) sounded like too much trouble. I guess it was worth a try.

Fair enough I thought. The Japanese people are extremely forgiving, and they entertained the thought of helping me out and were very friendly about it, which was great.

They then took me into the workshop several times to confirm the badge is exactly what I was after. I explained how I had a 182 in FRB and showed them a photo on my phone - they were amazed because they don’t get that colour in Japan! I explained how we want the RS Twingo and Clio V6 which we don’t get in Australia. You always want what you can’t get. Some interesting machines being serviced in the workshop including a Clio V6, some Ph1 172’s and an RS Twingo. I think there was a 250 as well, possibly with a similar decal design as Adrian’s (ace).

Anyways, eventually the Workshop Manager was introduced to me and he came up with an idea that I might be interested in a used badge - I said GREAT! Used is fine - the badges usually look pretty good after a few years anyway and I was getting a bit desperate at this point. I’d be happy with a few stickers!

The Workshop Manager then showed me all of the new RS’s for sale upstairs in their showroom as well as the used RS’s for sale. He explained that they pretty much only sell Renault Sport (Twingo, Lutecia/Clio and Megane) and the Kangoo vans. There were a couple of standard Meganes and Clios - called Lutecia of course (5 door, phase III) for sale and these were all RHD, as you would expect in a country that drives on the left, just like us.

This is the curious thing: all of the RS that I saw (172 ph1 all the way up to a 250) were LHD. They didn’t even bother selling the RHD converted models… Interestingly enough, you are seen to be “cool” if you drive LHD! So there are heaps of Euro and American cars getting around that are LHD. Apparently the Yakuza like LHD, too… :news:

The Manager also talked about his passion for RS - he has a 250 that he loves. He comes from a background of working for Peugeot, then Citroen and now RenaultSport. So it sounds like he likes his Frenchies as much as we do! I think he said he’s been working with French cars for around 10 years.

So after checking out all the cars and parts on display, my girlfriend became suddenly addicted to the Top Gear episode that was playing on a DVD player in the showroom - it was the Japan challenge episode with the (then) new Skyline GTR. She has never shown much of an interest in cars let alone Top Gear but I couldn’t tear her away from watching the TV!

Eventually, after about half an hour or so, the Workshop Manager took us downstairs and they had pulled a badge off the back of a 172 ph2 in the workshop - I couldn’t believe it. :hyper: I was a bit concerned that the badge came off a customer’s car (imagine that!), but after a bit more machine translation using a phone, I worked out they pulled the badge off the back of one of the mechanic’s cars. They explained that the “Clio” badge is desirable in Japan because they want to put them on their cars - exactly the opposite of what I was trying to do!

So after plenty of thanks and a bit of bowing (which was very amusing for them!) we said goodbye (we must’ve spent close to 2 hours battling through the language barrier) and with Lutecia badge in hand (also got a sticker), it really topped off a great trip. This week I plan on sending a thankyou pack back over with some OZRS cards, stickers and my “Clio” badge in return… So then I can think about my badge driving around Japan, somewhere. I reckon they would love a OZRS calendar!

Here is a pic of the final result:

Below are a few photos I took of the yard and showroom - see how many RS you can spot in the yard (bonus points if you can spot them all)!

Yard

RS Twingo Gordini - Side (I think the RS Twingo looks awesome, pity they aren’t available here)

RS Twingo Gordini - Front

Not quite an RS, but a Renault Wind Gordini Edition

RS Megane 250 - Yellow

RS Megane 250 - Grey

Random expensive go-fast parts on the wall

RS Megane 250 Carbon Rear Diffuser Y336,000 (~$4100 AUD!!)

That’s all folks for now!

PS one of my dreams was to go work in Japan for a year and bring an RS back… too bad they are expensive and LHD!!