Standing Ovation? 1984 AMC Renault Encore

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

The Renault / AMC years were interesting ones, and the offspring of this marriage are still spotted in the wild today. Unfortunately introduced just about the time competition from Japan was ramping up and fuel prices were trending down, the Alliance lineup seemed to feature “one of everything,” from sporty coupes and convertibles to the upmarket Encore hatchback. This example seen here on craigslist is $1,900 and look very clean. 

Of course, condition may be irrelevant if the car isn’t something you’d actually want to drive. Saddled with an automatic transmission, this pre-1985 model likely sports the 1.4L four-cylinder lifted straight out of the Renault LeCar, which features a blistering 64 b.h.p. Listen, I own a van with about the same horsepower, but at least it’s a manual! The lack of thrills likely played a role in this Encore staying in nice shape.

Despite being an economy car in every sense of the word, AMC tried to give these French-American hybrids some level of creature comforts to attract young buyers. Remote locking and an “electronically tuned” sound system were included, along with a fully independent suspension up front. Say what you will about the driving experience, but I applaud the fact that this Encore was built in the USA, rolling off the assembly line in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Speaking of Wisconsin, that’s exactly where this Encore resides, which likely means it has not traveled far since the day it was driven off the dealer’s lot. This might also account for its survivor-grade condition, though I’d like to learn more about how this Encore has been maintained before deeming it a worthwhile project car. The Alliance and Encore sold well while it was here – I wonder what might’ve been if gas prices continued to climb.

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Comments

  1. RayT Member

    If I read the ad correctly, this is exactly like the Encores — and Alliances — I drove back in ’84: it “runs, stops, and drives.” That’s what they did (and ALL they did) back then….

    At the time, I was a Renault owner (two R5s and an R16) and hoped these would offer something fresh for the U.S. market. Unfortunately, they struck me as made-in-France Toyotas and Datsun/Nissans. No particularly enticing features, no added character. As such, they were fine for commuters and people who weren’t particularly interested in automobiles.

    In my view, their major failing was a continuation of Renault’s lackadaisical attitude toward simple things like parts availability and service. What I do remember most was these disappearing rapidly from the road (in CA, at least), just like the bigger 18is and Fuegos. Sad.

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    • tom

      Im a car guy and have NEVER seen an 18i (always wanted to though)….These early “appliances”had “issues” the later ones werent half bad as they had the bugs worked out but by then the damage had been done.I came close to buying a white GTA convetrible at Goodiwn AMC buick in Sumter Sc in 1986. I found it to be somewhat crude and unrefined.NO ammount of skirting and ground effects could help that boxy little “appliance”…

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  2. djkenny

    Lemons. Pure Lemons. Constant issues with electrical, transmission failures, cooling system failed just looking at it wrong.

    This car is $1400 too expensive. “Here, take my problem before it really gets bad.. I am only asking $400”

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  3. terry

    I work around the corner from an ex Jeep-Renault dealer. There are still two or three Alliances in the back corner of the lot. Been there for the 20 years I’ve been at my job. Surprised they survived the rampant metal recycling several years back when steel was so high.

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    • Brigham Briggs

      Where is that dealership located?

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      • tom

        yea really! id love to see a picture of them!

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  4. Cubs win

    Another pos that one of my buddies bought new right out of high school. He traded a 67 Camero for it which was really nice. We used to see how many dudes we could cram in it to go bar hopping till he literally drove it till one of the wheels fell off.
    We all do stupid things.

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  5. sir mike

    Renault sold out to AMC and this is the result…sad

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    • Cubs win

      Don’t think so. AMC had nothing to do with their design.

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    • RayT Member

      AMC had next to nothing to do with these except for marketing them (and, perhaps, some suggestions re trim and options). Renault built and sold them in Europe, badged as Renault R9 or R11 depending on sedan or hatch body style.

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  6. glennmat1

    they were nice to drive but the brake pedal was too far up and was hard to hit while braking

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    • Dennis M

      Is that you Ralph?

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  7. KeithK

    I worked on these when they were new and under warranty. Thanks for triggering my PTSD. These quickly and rightly earned the nickname reanault eyesore.

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  8. Derek F

    Motor Trend’s 1983 Car of the Year.

    Glad they were wrong.

    Dead wrong.

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  9. Blueprint

    The 2-door Alliance and the convertible were engineered by AMC. I owned a 1986 Alliance DL coupe for two years (winter beater). The bigger 1.7 litre worked well with the auto box, it was a beast in the snow and had great heat and visibility. The AMC-modded structure was very weak though and the sheet metal would make wobbling sounds over bad pavement!

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  10. Adam T45

    When you look at an instrument display on a small European car and see that anything over 5500 rpm is getting into “Lap of the Gods” territory, you know that you’re not dealing with anything particularly brilliant. Low capacity + low rpm = A 0-60 time that can be measured with a sun dial. I think I’d pass on this.

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  11. Rustytech

    AMC did not buy Renault, it was the other way around. Renault invested money in AMC as a partial bailout, and part of the agreement was that AMC would market the Renault. AMC did modify the body’s to create the convertible, but otherwise the full blame goes to Renault.

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  12. Morley

    Barn Find has lost its way.Most of these cars where unpopular junk when new, and they have not improved with age. Tooo many dreamers who think it is old, it should be going to Barrett/Jackson!!! BF, can you not find something more interesting Morley

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    • Adam T45

      Hey Morley, maybe this car is a heap of junk. However, you need to remember that the world doesn’t start and stop with the good old US of A. This is a car that we never received Down Under (and maybe that’s a good thing!), so to some of us cars like this make interesting reading.

      I appreciate the effort that is put in by the contributors to this website. It is one of the few that I actually can be bothered looking at these days. Last time I checked access was free, so it doesn’t cost anything to come on here and check out the cars.

      It’s dead easy to criticise, but a lot harder to be constructive (or be a contributor).

      Stop taking everything so seriously. Unfortunately I’ve now learned that once a doctor hands you a death sentence, issues like this are put into perspective. Whether a website irritates you is no longer an issue in the greater scheme of things. Enjoy life.

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      • Morley

        Adam T45 Adam I have reread my comment and you are right, it does sound harsh. However, I am just tired of look at used cars, that someone got sick of and parked it and forgot about it. I have 4 cars in my “barn”, – 1963 Buick Lesabre, factory 4 speed, 1959 ElCamino hot rod- 427 with a supercharger, a 1980 Ford Custom 100 pick up truck–bought it brand new, never seen rain, and a 1965 Ford Custom 2 door post with a 427 and a 4 speed.. I drive the 65 once in awhile , but the others have set in my barn for years. So yes I do have a few cars, but my complaint with BF is that just because a car is old and parked, I just not interested. I think they should up the game and find more interesting cars. That’s all. Morley

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      • Adam T45

        Morley, mate, (pick the Aussie here!), we all have bad days. When I was told that I had cancer, and that there is nothing that can be done for it, it shifted my priorities enormously. I look at life differently to most people because I don’t really know how long I’ve got to look at it!

        To give you an idea of where I was coming from: I’ve lived all my life Down Under. I’ve been luckier than most, and have been exposed to cars from around the globe. My father loved his American Fords and had a succession of Customlines, Galaxys, Thunderbirds, Fairlanes, etc. However, I have just scanned through the first 5 pages on this site, and there are 45 cars in those first 5 pages that were never officially imported into Australia (not counting one-off private imports). Some I knew about, but cars like this I had never heard of. For those of us outside the USA, what appears mundane to you can be really interesting to us. Please, don’t deprive us of this experience.

        This is the best website of its type that I’ve ever seen. I appreciate everything that’s on here (even the Mk 1 Cortina that some dumb Aussie has cut the roof off!). Take care my friend.

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  13. milotus

    A French car……built by Americans…….
    in Kenosha,Wisconsin……

    Doomned to failure from the start.

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    • Adam T45

      Mate, it could be worse. Ever heard of an Arna? They combine the flair of 1980’s Japanese motoring with the reliability of 1980’s Italian motoring. Now THAT’S doomed!

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    • leiniedude

      Living in the Badger State I still had to laugh! Doomned to failure from the start.

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  14. Bill T

    Had a GTA rag top. Handled like a slot car. Went through tires like crazy… could have been my driving habits.. miss that car.

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  15. Peter B.

    A buddy of mine bought a used 1985 Alliance in 1986 after we got out of college, i got to ride in it alot. It was very comfortable for our over 6 foot frames, though it leaned like a commuter bus. Though it had a softer ride than my 1988 civic, it just didn’t last. It needed a new clutch by 40,000 miles or so and was scrapped a year or two later. It always struck me as being cheaply made and flimsy and I was shocked to see so many of the same parts in Jeeps later on.

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  16. Bob S

    Worst built window mechanism I have ever seen.

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  17. XMA0891

    A fraternity brother had one of these from new. I have yet to see another car sustain so much continued routine neglect and continue to function flawlessly. I don’t know what AMC or Renault got right with that car, but it could not be felled. Traded it in on a Justy!

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  18. Miguel

    I bought a used 1985 Alliance convertible. I thought it looked like a poor mans BMW 3 series convertible. It had a 5 speed in it and very low miles. I found out later the low miles were because it had sat in body shops for most of it’s life.

    It was a dog of the worst kind. I had to down shift to 3 gear to get up the hill from LA to Las Vegas.

    Later I bought a beater 1985 Alliance with an automatic and for some reason it had more than twice the power the stick did.

    Who knew.

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