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The Misunderstood Renault LeCar



  • It was imported by sun International and the cars do have the CA Bar so they are cool in all 50 states for sure! Emissions are so tough her in CA, but that's another thread. To me the R5 is one of the best looking cars from the 80's . I just mentioned it in the "most beautiful" thread before I saw this one.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,333
    Well, perhaps, but still, why should this be necessary?

    who ever heard of having to retorque head bolts on a brand new car?
  • I totally agree that such an important part of the engine's life expectancy should be done at the factory level. The engines should not REQUIRE a head re-torque once the car is shipped. So.....whose fault does it become? Really a moot point anyway.
  • We have all heard it before. The nasty comments about the Franc's product support and the unsuitability of the vehicles to American conditions and habits. To tell the truth I have had good luck with my French cars. My 1982 LeCar was sold in 1991 with 98,000 miles on the clock and still running strong, its' paint still shiny. I drove my 1984 Peugeot 505 until 1995, finally letting her go with over 204,000 on her under two litre engine. In fact, I was merciless in the end. The old girl didn't deserve it, but I would take to disposing of old hazardous wastes by simply pouring them in the fuel tank. Old model airplane fuel (by the gallons), dirty lacquer thinner. By god she drank it all up and still strutted out of the emissions test lane, proud of her new pass sticker.

    The Renault was fun, especially with the sunroof open on a pleasant day and the Peugeot was simply the most sturdy car I have ever owned.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    I haven't seen too much bad comments about Peugeot 504s and 505s, although the turbo 505s weren't all that great.

    Having good luck with a LeCar is by far the exception to the rule.
  • merckxmerckx Posts: 565
    I think it will be hard to slam this one much... Very Mercedesesque with that pleasing French softness thrown overtop. It was absurdly slow with an automatic,but it also had an espically sweet clutch take-up and a very snappy gearbox,too. Nothing flismy about this eclair either;it was the car of choice in the African boonies for years. I wanted one so badly when I was in college...
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    I've owned two, and they were pretty good cars. Biggest hassle in the US was getting parts, and if your ZF automatic went out, you either found a junk trans or you junked the car. Rebuilds came from France and they were very expensive.
  • I think that its interesting that some of the people in this board have thoughts from one extreme to the other on Peugeot and Renault. For what its worth, I'm going to put in my 2 cents worth.
    It is fair to say that both Renault and Peugeot sold vehicles in the USA that had only a small following (the Alliance an exception). The Peugeot's for the most part were not inexpensive and by europe's standards of the time (the models we got) were executive class vehicles. The 304 sold only 2 years here, 1971-1972?, was an attempt by Peugeot to move down market (slightly) but was caught with poor assembly, a odd shift linkage and no parts support. The 504-505-604 and others were better built, but also suffered from people who did not understand how to market the vehicles, service and parts support that was poor and vehicles that could not possibly sell in Peoria! Renault suffered the same faults, but by the time the end came in 1987, they only had the Alliance to sell, so as the Alliance went, so did American Motors/Renault. But, to get back to the issue of the Le Car, yes, they did blow headgaskets, but those of us like myself, understood the vehicle and I installed a backup thermal switch using a old add on smog device with a thermal switch in the radiator hose. This way, hopefully, if the main thermal switch for radiator fan quit, the secondary one would take over. And, I might point out, that some of the overheating that took place in the Renaults and Peugeot are a result of coolant changes. If the cooling system was not properly bleed, it could develop a air block and the engince at some point would probably overheat. So, if either of the companies return to the USA market, I welcome them, but I hope that both the owners of these vehicles and the companies understand the type of care and maintenance that these vehicles require.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    If you put a high maintenance car in the hands of an American, it has to be some kind of supercar to survive, like a Ferrari . If it's an ordinary daily driver, the car is doomed, because we don't want to know from nothing about bleeding our coolant systems when adding antifreeze, or other esoteric maintenance practices. We want to get in, start it, and go to work and change the oil every 50,000 miles, whether it needs it or not.

    Any car imported into the US had better be free of complicated maintenance practices.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,333
    Talk about comfortable!
  • merckxmerckx Posts: 565
    Talk about comfortable-mais oui!
  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    A local lawyer I know had one of these. I rode with him once on a 100 mile trip, and noticed how comfortable the seats were, and that the ride was also pretty good. On the trip, he remarked how pissed he was that the engine had blown at 40,000 miles. Then later I noticed how he drove: When he got in to start the car from rest, he let the clutch halfway out and put his foot on the gas before he even turned the key. Then, immediately as the car fired, he'd engage the clutch and gas it. No warmup-no oil pressure. Well DUH! Wonder why his engine blew at 40 thou? Good point about Americans not in to the maintenance required for some foreign makes. Maybe that's why my Dad's 58 Renault Dauphine never gave any trouble-he gave it meticulous maintenance. The only trouble we had was when I drove it and tried to speedshift from first to second-it would get stuck in first and we'd have to limp to a gas station, put it up on the rack, drop the trans pan and snap the gear back over-away we'd go. Other than that, the Dauphine never gave any trouble.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,711
    With my '93 Volvo 850. Just like all French cars, this one requires very meticulous maintenance, and I'm not joking, either. Unlike the 240/740/940, where you can let things go, the 850 needs a timing belt every 70k, brake service every 20k, and transmission fluid changes every 25k. My friend purchased an '89 Peugeot 505 S V-6 when we were in high school; we were both 16 years old at the time. And he tried to drive and treat it just like a Chevy Caprice; he never changed the oil or did any maintenance to it whatsoever. Guess what? His ZF 4-speed auto and head gasket went kaput at 107k, on the same day (and I'm not kidding about this one, either!).
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Those V-6 Peugeots were awful cars. Very bad reputation. I wouldn't go near one for free.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,333
    Some Volvos used the same lousy engine. A lot of shops refuse to work on them!

    The camshafts last about 40,000 miles as I recall.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    You be lucky to get $1,500 for a mint one.
  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    that was used in the DeLorean? Or was it a different version? I seem to remember that DeLorean used a Renault/Peugeot?Volvo V6.
  • Mr. Shiftright:
    You're correct in stating that Americans can't or won't adhere to unusual repair/maintenance practices by and large. However, these days with the information highway making information easily available, the market today is different than when Renault/Peugot were selling vehicles here. If the target market of the vehicles is done correctly and aimed at the right audience, both Renault and Peugot should be able to sell 15-35k vehicles a year without too much difficulty.
    The key is to have the right support in parts and service to deal with the vehicles. If KIA can do this from ground zero start, then anyone can!! By the way, both Renault and Peugot sell some pretty darn good vehicles in Europe these days...I driven a few of them over the last several years on vacations there...
    Now about the PRV V-6 motor: The PRV v-6 motor at first was a camshaft eater; I worked in a Volvo dealer when they were new. We cut holes in the firewall to replace the camshafts and installed rubber plugs, so that we didn't have remove the motor to replace them. This proceedure was only done when the vehicle was under warranty!!! The problem stemed from the camshafts being made of a low grade cast iron and higher forces required to open the valves than originally designed. The fix didn't come till a few years later when a flame hardened camshaft was used. By that time, the engine had a well deserved reputation for camshaft and headgasket concerns. However, development on the motor continued and last of the PRV motors used on vehicles here in the USA models ( Eagles) made it a pretty good motor. The cylinder head, block and gasket design were changed, and this coupled with the newer flame hardened camshafts made them a pretty good motor by and large...too bad the electronic automatic transmission was such a dog....But that's another story.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Thank you Dennis, that was interesting.

    My main source of skepticism for Renault/Peugeot ever being successful here is twofold:

    1. They have to live down an awful reputation in the US.

    2. If they use a French management team instead of American, (service, sales, etc), like they insisted upon last time, they will fail again.

    Afla Romeo and Maserati, on the other hand, did not burn hundreds of thousands of buyers, like Renault, Peugeot, Fiat and Lotus did collectively. So Alfa and Maserati have a chance. Also they enjoy more prestige in American eyes.
  • Shiftright,

    I think that the days of the old Renault and Peugeot are over.

    First of all, both companies have enjoyed several years of gaining market share and profits in Europe. Second, Renault has been handily repsonsible for Nissan's turnaround, and Nissan can teach Renault all it needs to know about marketing in the US. Peugeot has some of the most reliable non-premium cars according to long-term JD Power reports in Europe. Their cars regularly win COTY awards, and their partnership with Toyota leads me to believe that the products they will bring here are going to be reliable, somewhere below Toyota but above Mazda in terms of reliability.

    The next 406, the 407, is reportedly going to be Passat-sized and looks to be a promising entry-lux kind of midsized car for the US market, if they choose to market it.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Well, if they bring over an excellent product they could get a small market share. But just one slip up and they are dead meat in the US.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,333
    That's why I doubt if they will return.

    Besides, it's an already overcrowded marketplace.
  • I wonder though, if it really is overcrowded.

    If a small market like the UK can sell everything from Toyota to Tata to Rover to Renault, why can't the US? The UK has far more brands than the US and these companies manage to stay there.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Both US and UK are very "mature" markets. There really isn't any more room for newcomers. All you can do is steal a bit from someone else, and fight for every sale. And it is SO expensive to launch successfully in the US. I'm amazed anyone would even bother anymore.

    My advice...if you aren't already here, don't come! Try Asia and Africa.
  • Well, personally, I think Peugeot and Alfa could stand to come back.

    Let's get rid of Daewoo and Suzuki!
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,333
    Fine with me.

    A long time ago, in another forum, I wondered (out loud) how Daewoo ever expected to be able to survive in this marketplace.

    Another "me too" entry into a marketplace already leary of anything from Korea.

    I guess they are barely hanging on at this point?
  • Well, if Hyundai can show improved quality scores on their new generation cars, I think they'll join the mainstream. I know several people now who bought new Hyundais and it's really not such a big deal. However, Kia and Daewoo, not sure.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    The new Hyundai Tiburon is very nice looking. Renaults, unfortunately, are usually ugly. If someone has a picture of a Renault that even approaches "beautiful", please post it.
  • merckxmerckx Posts: 565
    GREAT post-I conccur completely!

    You are obviously a Renaissance man in your neighborhood!
  • Well, styling is subjective, but I think the Renault Laguna (current version) is incredibly stylish, almost too stylish for what is essentially a bread and butter family car.

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 24,267
    ...and remember seeing a Renault called the Safrane. I thought it was a really attractive car for the time. I just went to their website, and noticed they don't use that name anymore. Did the Laguna replace it? It looks about the same size. Most of the other stuff on their website looked pretty vulgar, but that Laguna's pretty nice!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    dauphine? Errr.....that was speedshift irony/sarcasm, right?

    I thought I said "truly beautiful" not "frog-cute". C'mon you can do better than a Dauphine as an example of French styling. Remember, this is going into the next Voyager satellite. You want aliens to think the Dauphine is the best of France?
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    No, I couldn't do better. I tried.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    No Delahayes or Talbot Lagos or Matras or ????
  • andre, the Renault Safrane was the executive-class hatch/sedan, larger than the Laguna. They canned the Safrane in like 1997 or 1998 I think. I think they sold 20-30,000 of them in the early days, but the Safrane, along with the Citroen XM (fairly similar large french car) were only selling a few hundred a year by 1997 in UK at least.

    In 2000 the Laguna II was introduced and became larger. The Vel Satis will be introduced late 2002, so this will effectively be the next Safrane.

    The Vel Satis is
  • oops ;0
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Okay, how about this.

    I guess the French didn't get seriously weird until the '50s, just in time to crack the American market. Was this more of De Gaulle's mischief?

  • stickguystickguy Posts: 40,286
    They even can sell them in the UK with a 12 mos. warranty. Is that normal for Europe?

    2020 Acura RDX tech SH-AWD

  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,333
    That first that was funny!

    Does anyone remember another Renault that was sold in the US the same time as the Dauphine?

    I know there was a cheaper (and even uglier) Renault sold at the same time. A four door sedan that was cheap beyond belief. What was it called?

    I sure don't remember.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    I think that car was called a 4CV. The 2CV is Citroen.

    Actually the 4CV is a minor collectible and the convertible version is worth a lot more than a Dauphine. But I agree, the Dauphine is cuter. The 4CV was actually a fairly competent car by 1960s Renault standards (which aren't very high).

    I'm pretty sure most French perceive Renault as the cheap car and Citroen as a step up and Peugeot a step up from that. Chevy-Buick-Cadillac. I drove some new Renaults in the mid 1990s, which was my last experience with the cars. They drove very well but I was very unimpressed with the quality of the car. I thought the Japanese would kill them in a free market.
  • merckxmerckx Posts: 565
    That's right,but the little wagon WAS A Renault 4,wasn't it? The one with the sliding side windows.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 24,267
    ...that's interesting. I didn't know that Peugeot was considered upscale from Citroen. I guess mainly because of what I've seen of their offerings here in the U.S. I remember Renaults mainly being just cheap, ugly, nasty little cars (well okay, the LeCar was a cheap, cutesy, nasty little car ;-). The only Peugeots I remember were the boxy 505 from the '80's, and the smaller 405 that came out for a few years in the late '80's. I have a car buying guide from Consumer Guide back from 1985, and they tested a 505. I think it was around $17,000, which was definitely high-end Buick territory back then. My grandparent's '85 LeSabre, loaded with just about every option you could get, was "only" around $16,000.

    I always thought Citroens were kind of exotic and upscale, mainly because when I think of Citroen I think of those "French Pastry" style cars they used to have. Like the one Chevy Chase wedged in a tunnel in "National Lampoon's European Vacation" ;-) I just figured something like that would be upscale from a boxy Peugeot.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Well, maybe we need a Frenchman here to sort this out! These were only my impressions.

    Yes, the little boxy Renault was the R4, you are right! And it was a sturdy little car I am told, a fairly conventional, old-fashioned design.
  • I guess it's hard to believe, but Peugeot is considered the nicest of the French brands. And, no Renault doesn't offer a 12 month warranty. Most European warranties are in fact longer. The standard is 3 years 60,000 miles as opposed to 36. Honda offers 3/90, Hyundai 5 years, Mercedes offers unlimited mileage warranty, and 4 years is common for most premium brands.

    In America, too the Peugeot was considered nicer. The 505 was definitely executive class, whereas Renault had nothing but econoboxes until the Medallion, which was a quirky nightmare and a half. At least the 505 had a sort of mainstream feel to it.
  • phs2phs2 Posts: 1
    There is no real hierarchy in France for the national brands, as prices of the three are equivalent. The image of Renault has changed a lot in the past two decades. Renaults are now considered as the more innovative and safe. Peugeots are more classic, nice and handle perfectly. Citroens are now less considered because Peugeot, that owns the brand now, didn't develop them a lot (if you look for ugly french cars, take a look at the citroen visa, GS, Axel...)
    In Europe, the cars "hierarchy" is something like:
    1. Mercedes, Jaguar
    2. BMW, Audi, Saab, Volvo
    3. VW, Renault, Peugeot, Alfa
    4. Opel, Ford, Fiat, Seat, Citroen, Toyota, Honda, Nissan
    5. Skoda, Daewoo, Hyundai, Daihatsu
    The warranty of all the european makes is only of one year in france (except alfa, 2 years. They had such a reputation of poor reliability that they had to extend their warranty)
    Japanese, Korean and east European brands offer 2 or 3 years.
  • Well, in the UK it's 3 years.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Thank you phs2, that was very interesting to read. I would have thought Renault in #4 position as well but it sounds like you are in a better position to judge.
This discussion has been closed.