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The Misunderstood Renault LeCar



  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,711
    What is your opinion on the 1986 Renault Alliance convertibles? Are these models good cars or not? I ran into my old high school English teacher the other day; he's been trying to sell his '86 Alliance L for a while now. He's the original owner and the car has only 29k miles on it. But I have listened to the engine, though; it runs very rough and sounds junky compared to my '87 Chevy Nova, which is smooth compared to that thing. What do you think?
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 24,267
    ...but I figured others could put it more colorfully ;-)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    It has a terrible reputation, and even if 75% of what they say about it were completely false, the other 25% would be enough to make you shiver in horror.

    Hey, for $250 bucks or so, why not? Drive it until something breaks and then junk it. But any more than that, and you are scuba-diving with your checkbook for the rest of your life.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,333
    Or didn't Motor Trend name the Alliance Car of the Year one year?

    What a joke! Of course, they picked the Vega one year too...
  • Just get a used Peugeot 505 for that price. They're infinitely more reliable. I still see plenty of them hanging around, especially the diesels, so it makes you think that Peugeot must have been a much more reliable car maker in the 80's than Renault.

    Now I hear the gap between them has closed.
  • Or was it "car for a year" ?
  • My former high school history teacher once simultaneously hit five deer in a 1985 Renault Alliance. The car was completely crushed. I'm told that he tells that story to his class every year.

    -Andrew L
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 40,286
    With high school teachers? I had one (in the late 70s) who traded in a 70ish Camaro 350 4-speed for a Fiat (Bravo? Strada? The boxy 4 door that was supposed to compete with the Rabbit). This was probably in 1979 or 1980.

    Another one had a mid 70s Datsun 710 that I actually looked at when he was selling it (same time frame). Ugly as sin, but the real problem was a nasty backfire when you shifted gears.

    Weren't the 70s a fun time for economy cars? Actually, the 1975 Corolla 5-speed I bought in 1983 is still one of the best cars I ever owned. Had 105K when I got it, 120K when I sold it, and was perfectly reliable in between. Even got 32 mpg highway after I rebuilt the carb (a whopping 6 bucks for the kit, about $30 to a mechanic to do the work).

    2020 Acura RDX tech SH-AWD

  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    I think you're right about Alliance being Car of the Year--I vaguely remember the magazine cover--and you wouldn't believe which new Ford Motor Company product they picked for 1958.

    Just kidding, in '58 they hadn't hit on that goldmine yet.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,333
    We don't pay our teachers enough.

    Maybe that's the reason I didn't persue my dream of teaching high school english.

    I didn't want to drive a Renault!
  • Speaking of teachers, my 7th grade math teacher is the only person I've ever met who owned a Hyundai Excel and loved it. It was a 1988 GS sedan, and she got 255,000 miles out of it before scrapping it due to transmission failure. This was in 1996, so it didn't really last that long year-wise, just took on a lot of miles. I guess out underpaid teachers learn how to make their cars last.

    -Andrew L
  • I did once see a 1989 or 90 Dodge Monaco ES for sale with 175,000 miles on it - the car I believe was a Renault design made at the old AMC plant in Kenosha.

    I sort of wondered if an eyelash accidentally landed next to the 75,000 in the printing room at the newspaper... I've never heard of these cars going foward, much less accumulating mileage! wow!
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,711
    Does anybody here at Town Hall have any info or knowledge about the Renault R12, R15/R17 and/or Gordini from the 1970s? I know what these models are, but I've never seen any pictures of them. I've seen a couple of old brochures for sale on Ebay, but no vehicles. It looks like these cars are very much unwanted in any condition in the States today. What do you think of these old, long-scrapped Renaults?
  • merckxmerckx Posts: 565
    Once again,I'll chime in first-the detractors will have to follow. When I was in high school,one of my friends got to use the family 1971 Fiat 124;the other had a new 1973 Renault 12. They were both the same color;I loved them both(supremely comfortable compared to Beetles, Pintos,and Corollas),but the Fiat was my favorite.
    At the time there was a fairly small auto magazine that was in thrall with anything French,ROAD TEST.They REALLY loved the Peugot 504,but the little 12 was praised highly,too.
    A few months ago,when CAR&DRIVER tested the Kia Rio,they had a side story on really bottom-feeder cars. Yes,the humble Renault12 lives on as the Romanian Dacia! So how bad could it have been 30 years ago,on it's first go around?
  • The Lada and Yugo were based on old Fiats, The eastern bloc countries had a habit of stealing an old western design and producing it for years. That doesn't mean it was any good to begin with. Have you ever been in a Lada? I would rather have a (God help me) Fiat.
  • merckxmerckx Posts: 565
    But that was my point. The first Lada WAS the 1967 Fiat124 when the Italians were through with it(1977,I believe). No,I've never seen a Lada;I'm sure they were pretty crappily made cars.My point was that the origional Renault and the Fiat 124 were decent cars 30 years ago.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Maybe by European standards, and working in their own country with their own mechanics...but here in the US they failed pretty dismally.
  • My grandpa had a Fiat X 1/9 that he refused to admit was an unreliable trap!

    It's amazing how far a car can go despite itself.
  • ndancendance Posts: 323
    ...Maybe by European standards, and working in their own country with their own mechanics...but here in the US they failed pretty dismally...

    Just to make a general observation...I've always been struck by how many new cars Europeans seems to drive (at least in larger cities). Maybe it's just my imagination. But it seems possible that those guys historically buy a new car (and don't own 3 or 4 per family like here), beat the hell out of it, endure rust, endure a few safety inspections, throw it away. Am I wrong in assuming that the average fleet age is different than here?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Well for one thing they don't let people drive the piles of junk we permit on the roads over here.
    I know poor folks gotta drive, but there is a limit to what you should allow on the roads, and I think the Europeans draw a stricter line than we do. In Germany, you have a rusted, dented car, you are off the road come first inspection.

    Then of course, the Germans can ship the rustbucket to Belgium, where it is all gooped up and bondoed and sent to America as a recently discovered classic!
  • The major difference is that most of Europe has a workable mass transit system. You can get around most of europe by train or bus if you don't have the money for a car.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Yes, thank you for reminding me of that...very good point!
  • The Lada and Yugo weren't actually pilfered FIAT designs. FIAT had a program where they would basically provide you with a car industry. They designed the factory, provided the tooling, car design, parts, the whole nine yards. Voila, instant car industry! There was the Lada in Russia, the Yugo in Yugoslavia, there was a version for Romania also and I think Malaysia or Indonesia also built a factory.

    We forget here in the US how big FIAT still is!
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    That was my impression too from Spain and Italy: virtually the entire fleet was newer and throw-away. Nothing looked like it was more than five years old--I think I saw one old sportscar and zero old sedans.

    In general there didn't seem to be much tolerance for funkiness. The average person was well-dressed in conservative but not expensive clothing, while here we've got millionaires schlepping around in sweat suits.
  • ndancendance Posts: 323
    A concept for a trip I've always thought about involves the following.

    1) Ship a Plymouth Superbird to England
    2) Fly over wearing cowboy hats
    3) Spend plenty of time on narrow backroads
    4) Try to stay on the left side of the road
    5) Hope that the wing is visible over the stone walls surrounding the fields, giving plenty of warning
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    That's how Lawrence of Arabia died you know. Not in a Superbird, but on a motorcycle on those very roads. It would be fun but basically suicidal. You wanna talk about this death wish? Okay, some other topic!
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 24,267
    ...maybe homicidal,though! Do they even make vehicles in England that could take out a Superbird? Well, there are those double-decker buses, but other than that, I think you'd demolish just about any vehicle you ran into (let's not talk about trees though!)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Lorries, you forgot about lorries.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 24,267
    ...that's their word for "truck" isn't it? For some reason, I'm getting a mental image of Cruella DeVil from "101 Dalmatians" and how that big car of hers seemed to dwarf everything else. (the 1961 cartoon version, never saw the more recent live-action movie). Was that car supposed to be based on anything real? Or just totally made-up? In some scenes of the movie, it looks like they took film footage of a real car and just drew over it.
  • ndancendance Posts: 323
    where's your sense of adventure?

    Just imagine pulling into some tiny farming town...stop at the pub...order up a Lone Star (oops, well maybe a Guinness). You'd be the most amazing thing that had happened there in years. This would be your chance to bring luv to the world....
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    I don't think the Brits would be all that impressed by a Superbird. They are an eccentric island people you know, and tradition dies hard there.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 24,267
    ...take the Superbird, go to work on the wiring with some snips, and it should be right at home ;-)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Yes, mysterious period failures would help. Actually, I bet the Superbird could provide its own mishaps.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306
    Could that car possibly be the Dacia?
  • Having been a Renault and Peugeot mechanic in the U.S., I can say for a fact that the head gasket problems (around 30,000 miles) were caused by the mechanic who did(n't) the PDI. It was to include a head torque and valve adjustment. It was the kind of thing that no one would know about at the time and it made it out of warranty before it would blow. My wife had one ('78) and when I met her it had 12,000 on it. I checked the head bolts and they were loose! I retorqued them and adjusted the valves and kept the car (with original clutch) over 150,000 miles. I've had other's (R8, R10, R17 Gordini (the real one). All sold with over 150,000 miles each. Just my 2 cents.
  • I totally agree that ALL French cars sold in the US had the worst support network. They did not know how to market or support their cars here (or maybe did not WANT to!!). No General motors (or AMC) mechanic could give a rat's behind about them!! (Kinda like Harley mechanics working on Suzukis)
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,333
    But I happen to really like old Peugeot Diesels.

    They were rock tough and very comfortable. They required a bit of care from a mechanic who knew what he/she was doing. Most mechanics just thought they were a POS car because they were so strange.

    Hell, you had to read the owner's manual to turn on the headlights!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    I had a 504 diesel that served me well for some time. Of course, I did know how to work on it. That's the whole ticket with most cars. If you have the skills and the time, you can keep the "worst" cars running and reliable. But for most people, this was not an option.

    The support network collapse for French cars was mostly the fault of Peugeot and Renault. They didn't want to invest the money necessary nor did they use American management talent. They really thought Frenchmen could come over here and know exactly what Americans wanted and needed.
  • Let's hope they don't repeat that mistake - I hope that when peugeot comes back to the US (it's supposed to by 2005-6 or something), they'll market them as sort of "mainstream European". They're really very attractive cars, and the company is one of the more efficient now on the planet.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Depends entirely on whether they hire Americans to run things over here or not. If they do, great, if not, they are doomed IMO. They have a bad reputation to overcome, remember.
  • I think the fact that they're partnering up with Toyota, and the fact that they have a large operating budget means they can probably come over in full force.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    I'll believe it when I see it. I had a French girl friend :)
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,333
    A french girlfriend? Is it true that they....oh nevermind!

    Peugeot returning to the U.S.? I'll believe that when I see it. They had their chance and blew it.
  • Someone has a 42K original Mile LeCar on eBay...

    $1,400.. No takers.

    Such a shocker :))
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,711
    Why does the Alliance have a terrible reputation in the U.S.? Was it maybe because of its bad build quality? I remember my high school teacher with his '86 Alliance ragtop; he leaned against the car one day and put a huge dent in the flimsy sheetmetal. Won't happen with my Volvo, though!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Bad head gaskets for one.

    42K on a Renault LeCar? Must have been restored a few times.
  • Goes back to what I said about the PDI!!! Of course, if the fan switch quit and you continue to drive an over heated engine, it's partly your fault too! Pretty much the same for any iron block/aluminum head design. Wet sleeve may be more easily "blown".
  • "42K? must have been restored a few times"


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    I'm a cruel man, but fair.
This discussion has been closed.