February 22, 2024

Wade Through Films

The Ultimate Driving Machines

Renault Megane Monaco | Shed of the Week

As you might expect, Shed has a man cave. As you might not expect, it’s an actual cave that he hacked out of the railway line embankment that runs behind his workshop. Well, he needed somewhere to hide didn’t he. There might have been some structural weakening of the embankment as a result of his excavations, but the bowing of the rails when a two-carriage Country Crawler rattles past on its twice-weekly trip past Shed’s village isn’t anywhere near as bad now as it was when the heavy old steam engines and Deltic diesels were pounding up and down the line. 

Talking of which, the village postmistress donated a purple velour sofa to Shed for use in his cave, where it is gradually acquiring two knee-shaped indentations. For the sake of balance we should mention at this point that Mrs Shed also has a man cave. For more on that you’ll have to go to the darknet version of PH on you-p-head.com.

Which finally brings us to this week’s Shed, a visually interesting Renault Mégane Monaco. Before you rip this car a new one with your incisive keyboardery, be aware that the 1990s were a good decade for the Mégane. There’s sporting heritage here, sort of. The Maxi Mégane was a serious F2 rally car that served many a privateer well well into the 2000s. Shed challenges you to find another sentence that has well well in it like that (apart from ‘well well, said the constable’).

As you can see, this is a 2000 example of the 1999-on facelift (or some would say second-generation) Mégane. Shed isn’t sure if the 16-valve K4J 1.6 engine made it into the Coupe. He thinks it did, even though the relaxed 89hp being claimed for it in the ad sounds more appropriate for an 8-valver. As ever Shed is ready to be put right on this, as he is on so many other things in his life. Not everyone liked the front-end restyle, but the gen-two/facelift Mégane Coupe was a comfy and easy-driving car. Oddly, the Coupe was a two-door rather than a three-door hatch but the boot was pretty small, and you’d have a job finding anyone daft enough to sit in the cramped rear compartment for more than ten minutes anyway, so you weren’t missing much there.

Okay, so let’s deal with the look. Shed is convinced he’s squinting at a purple car here, but the MOT certificate insists that it’s brown. A bevvied-up mole has better eyesight than Shed, so he’ll concede this point but what he is sure about is the strangely lovely farmyard-brown hue of the plumptious-looking leather seating. He really hopes he’s right about the purple bodywork because in his head he hasn’t moved on from the time when purple and brown were a highly acceptable, nay fashionable, colour combination for the gentleman about town. Shed’s Sunday best remains a purple Crimplene suit which he pairs up with tan brogues. It doesn’t sound like a good mix to those of us living in the real world until you take a gange at this Monaco. Admit it: somehow, even taking into account the not-quite-matching colour of the leathery wheel, it manages to convey a nice feeling of ritzy luxury. 

The important part of the MOT history is that been largely clean since 2006, when the then six-year-old Renault had done fewer than 10,000 miles. Between then and 2017 its outings amounted to about a thousand miles a year. There was a 26,000-mile spurt between 2017 and 2021, with 5,000 or so more accumulated in the year up to May ’22. The car now stands at 49,000 and comes with another clean ticket to next May.

There are some extra badges on this car which suggest that at least one of the previous owners had a sense of humour. On the back we have ‘Superleggera’, which you might have thought was more commonly associated with expensive custom Italian coachwork. The literal meaning of superleggera is of course ‘superlight’, a joke you could understand if it referred to weight loss through rust, but there’s no sign of that either now or anywhere in the MOT history. There’s also a Gordini sticker on the back, in a suitably art deco-ish font. Shed doesn’t mind that because it reflects Renault’s shameful period of badge-engineering when the only Gordini part was the badge, and even that wouldn’t have come from the Gordini works. 

Finally, on the nearside front we have a ’Tis But A Scratch’ sticker. Shed’s thinking of buying a box of these, not just to help sell some of the scabbier motors that pass through his hands but also to stick on his forehead after Mrs Shed has dealt out more frontier justice with the soup ladle.