Just like the Edison/Lumiere debate about who invented movies, Americans and the French each think they invented minivans. The Renault Espace came to market in 1984, a year after the Dodge Caravan, but the design predates the US Chrysler models. [But it actually originated in the 1970's with Matra and Simca, Chrysler's European division, which they sold to Peugeut, which is how Renault came to produce it. Donc, c'est evident, non?]
Anyway, this whole exercise would less about taking credit and more about assigning blame if it weren't for the Renault Espace F1 Concept, which Renault Sport, Matra, and Williams teamed up to create as a commemoration stunt for the Espace's 10th anniversary in 1995.
The Espace F1 had the 6-speed transmission, rear suspension, and 800hp RS4 3.5L V10 from a Williams FW14 race car cornholed into a carbon fiber tunnel in the cargo bay. The standard fiberglass bodywork was replaced by stunning carbon fiber; those air ducts around the rear tail lights are my favorites, reminiscent of the immortal toycar, the Renault 5 Turbo II.
Anyway, the videos speak for themselves. YouTube is in French, Google Video's in English with Japanese subtitles [and horrible channel levels]. Enjoy.
Renault Espace F1 concept 1995, french [youtube via windingroad.com, thanks dt reader jj daddy-o]
Renault Espace F1 Concept, eng/jp [google video]
Matra/Renault Espace history [matrasports.dk]
Renault Espace [wikipedia]