5,207 Miles from New: 1985 Renault Alliance

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

Barring the God-awful pictures, this Renault Alliance is claimed to be an extremely low-mileage survivor with a scant 5,207 miles on the clock. Supposedly used by the classic little ‘ol lady, the Alliance is in mostly sound condition aside from needing a new fuel pump. That said, it does have some damage on the passenger side that was almost certainly inflicted by the garage door frame. Find it here on eBay with one bid to $600 and no reserve. 

The pictures are bad – really bad. And more than that, the Alliance would do well to be detailed before photographing, as it is not the type of car that raises pulse rates when it appears in its dusty garage glory. Still, for a cheap runabout that’s nearly new, you could do worst. The body is straight, aside from the aforementioned quarter panel damage, and the lack of a license plate imprint out back would indicate it didn’t sit outside for decades.

The collaboration with American Motors saw this French economy car sold stateside, and while cars like this stripper-grade Alliance were the big sellers, the convertibles and GTA-spec examples are the ones enthusiasts still pine for. The seller doesn’t elaborate on the health of the 1.7L four-cylinder, but at least it’s the “upgraded” motor with fuel injection and almost 100 lb.-ft. of torque. No word on whether it’s a stick or automatic.

Here’s the damage to the passenger-side quarter panel, which is a shame because the rest of the body is quite sound. Thankfully, the lower trim strip was not ripped off, but this area should be repaired quickly by the next owner to present the spread of rust and preserve the untouched appearance. Fix the damage and find a hubcap and then drive the doors off of it – that’s what we’d do, provided bidding doesn’t get much beyond $1K.

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Comments

  1. eastlex91

    I drove one of these in college. I was a silver four-door hand-me-down from my Mom with the 1.7L. Frankly, I thought it was great! Yes, I know, most were plagued with reliability issues, but mine was not, and I drove the snot out of it! It was reasonably peppy, got great gas mileage and handled pretty well. The best part were the seats – amazingly comfortable! I’ve got a soft spot for these…

    2+

  2. Neal

    I never drove one, but some friends’ parents had them and so we rode in them later mid to late eighties. Junkety-junk-junk. Funny how the Yugo is disparaged, but the Renault gets the benefit of the doubt.

    0

  3. Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

    A friend of a friend had one of these when we were just out of high school. We called it “The Appliance.” Being a gear-head I knew about the crazy R5 Turbo.The Appliance was pleasant enough, but seemed as far from anything sporting as I could imagine. I drove it to Penn State and back one weekend and mainly I remember the (Four-Speed?) shifter being all rubbery, so whatever gear you were in you could grab the shifter and wobble it all around. Years later (my other Alliance story) I worked in a paper press and every morning (end of our shift) a young woman (not my friend) who lived nearby started hers up and drove away with the engine making a horrible rapping sound that seemed not to bother her. I remember thinking “It’s called oil; put some in your engine.”

    0

  4. Jake

    These were junk when new!!!!! First one I sold, which was first one sold at the dealership I worked, came back on a tow truck within 39 miles with a fuel pump failure!!!!! After a while I would spend lots of time with customers who wanted to buy one and convince them that a different brand was a better buy and as we had 5 different makes at the car lot, I’d usually convince them to buy a different brand!!!! Among the worst vehicles ever sold in this country!

    0

  5. grant

    The reason this one seems to have not been driven much is because it probably hasnt, these cars are notorious pieces of carp. Why bother with this one? Terrible car then, terrible car now. These are legendary in the auto world. A writer named McFarlane (I think) wrote a piece sometime back about the recall process on these. As I recall, the process started with a phone call, “I’ve got another Renault…”

    0

  6. Joe Nose

    Yes, you probably COULD do wurst. But I’d be a brat to say so, and I’m not into hot-dogging in Vienna.

    5+

  7. HARVEY FALKENSTINE

    I ended up with one of these as a rental car in 1984. I drove it from Laurel, MD to Albany, Ga and back. With the small engine, the AC switch doubled as a Jake brake.

    2+

    • Jeffro

      Harvey, I just made that drive this past week.

      0

  8. Fred W.

    If it’s truly 5600 miles from new, someone needs to buy it and preserve it for the “Crappiest Cars Of All Time Museum” . Put it between the Yugo and the first year Vega. If you don’t preserve history, it’s doomed to repeat itself.

    1+

  9. jw454

    A friend gave me an 1986 2 door coupe around 1994~95 not running. At 87K miles the timing belt had broke and trashed the exhaust valves. I rebuilt the head, replaced the belt and gave the car to my sister. She put another 80K miles on it before trading it in on a mini van to accommodate her growing family.
    If cared for properly, these are good little commuter cars.

    1+

  10. XMA0891

    A friend in college had a Fuego she could not keep running to save herself. A fraternity brother had an Alliance he could not kill (and man, did he try).
    All of a sudden the ’80’s, and its technology were a long time ago. Remember when there wasn’t the benefit of the www to provide almost TMI, and three ziliion opinions, on every minutia of an automobile? You bought a car, and you started driving, and kind-of hoped for the best. There were worse cars than the Alliance on the roads.

    0

    • Nrg8

      You mean worst right?

      0

  11. jaymes

    i think these blew spark plugs too, nice collectible tho! the fuel pump in the picture is for a chevy G van, so the right one will need to be found, best of luck!

    0

  12. Dan

    Not that there is any great panic to buy this car, but it appears that both rear quarters have damage, and the trunk lid looks askew.

    0

  13. Howard A Member

    This ad has more baloney than Patrick Cudahy. I get such a kick out of these people. Little scratch, 5K miles, rusty motor? While 105K would be out of the question,( maybe) I’d settle for a broken speedo. My brother had one, and properly maintained, it served him well. It was the only car I ever saw with an “oil level” gauge. Being from Wisconsin, it was well known, disgruntled assembly line workers in Kenosha, deliberately sabotaged these cars, because they knew the end was near. I don’t think that was ever proven, because they broke down anyway. It really was the low point for AMC. Such a mighty name, reduced to this. I think most people bought one to be AMC loyal, but they didn’t buy another.

    0

  14. Miguel

    I bought a low mileage 1985 convertible in 1989. It was a 5 speed and I thought it looked like a poor mans BMW convertible.

    After I bought it I realized it had low mileage because it has been sitting at body shops all of it’s life.

    I moved to Vegas from LA and I had to down shift to third to get up the hill.

    A couple of years later I bought another one but this time a high mile automatic. It had at least double the power of my low mile stick.

    I don’t think I would buy another one, ever.

    1+

  15. Tom Hall

    I remember droves of these cars sitting on the lot at the Corry, PA auto auction – they were all brand new. I don’t know if they ever auctioned them off or if AMC was just renting the parking. They sat there for a long time, as I recall – maybe a year – or more

    0

    • Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

      Hey Tom – The stories I mentioned above took place in my home town of Warren PA. We played Corry in football. I think I remember the sea of Renaults too now that you mention it. My Father-in-Law worked for the Corry auction a while after he retired, driving cars from place to place. Good to “meet” you!

      0

  16. Allen

    My experience with these is mostly renting one during a weekend trip. Even as rental cars go, this one was quite new – like 1200 miles on it. I do remember the driver’s side window jammed about halfway up and could not be moved up or down for the remainder of the weekend. I don’t remember the other problems – but I do remember the window problem was rather the last straw.

    ‘ Love the posts by JoeNose and Fred W! There are loads of wonderful old cars out there that will provide fantastic daily transport for very few bucks. Why even consider a known piece of junk? 5207 miles… isn’t that about average for a 32 year-old Alliance? Even if they ran much more, I would think the bodies would have disintegrated. ‘ Wonder if this car shows any body damage at all. Maybe it just came from the dealer that way?

    AMC built some really good cars in Kenosha. Even my beloved Pacers are getting pricier as collectibles. Too bad this Alliance was their last salvo.

    0

  17. Keith

    Another of those vehicles that I will never understand anyone giving any amount of money to own. I was a master tech at an AMC dealership in ’85… I have never even heard of a worse vehicle than the Alliance (or it’s ugly sibling, the Encore). Pure junk between the bumpers.

    0

  18. carl french

    Sometimes a car is rare for a reason….

    0

  19. Howard A Member

    Can you believe, this car’s variant in France, the Renault 9/11, got the “European Car of the Year” in 1982, and the Alliance was Motor Trends “Car of the Year” in ’83, and was the most popular selling Renault EVER! Sounds like the French gave it their all with this one. Sorry, being a diehard AMC fan until the bitter end, I can think of worse cars. It saved a lot of jobs,,,for a while.

    0

  20. Wayne

    We have 2 Renault Spec Racers. (one currently on the track and one being restored). That engine stock, or “hot’d up” will keep on screaming like there is no tomorrow. I hit over 9,000 rpm on a missed shift. The clutch blew apart and parts got wedged between the transaxle bell housing and the flywheel causing the flywheel to stop moving in a hurry. All it did was shear the flywheel bolts at the crank. I am continually amazed at the abuse the engine will take. I rented an Alliance once in LA. It did fine. (an automatic) It did not come close to keeping up with the R5 Turbo That pulled along side at the light however!

    0

  21. Mrmopr

    Looks to be an auto trans with the one decent engine pic on Ebay.. My Mom had one of these in the 80’s with the manual and the awful copper orange paint.. What a looker!!

    0

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