$500 Franco-American: 1985 Renault Encore

Scotty GilbertsonBy Scotty Gilbertson

Here’s one for you French car lovers and American car lovers. Not to mention you AMC lovers and Renault lovers! Confused? Me, too. This is a 1985 Renault Encore and it’s listed on eBay with an unmet opening bid of $350 and a Buy It Now price of $500! This Franco-American specialty is in Glenrock, Wyoming.

This car looks fantastic, condition-wise. I don’t really see a flaw anywhere on this frozen, frosted, French body. It looks like there are a couple of missing wheel covers, but I would fling those into the garbage anyway, I like the look of uncovered rims more than covering them up with plastic wheel covers. I’m funny that way. Renault introduced the Encore in 1984 as a companion to the Alliance (which was basically a rebadged Renault 9) that they introduced for the 1983 model year after “merging” with AMC in 1980. Actually, banks wouldn’t give AMC a loan because they held such a small share of the US car market, so they turned to Renault who loaned them a now-laughable amount of money: $90-million dollars. The company ended up grabbing a controlling ownership of AMC by the end of 1980. Here’s a 1985 Encore commercial on YouTube.

There are only two exterior photos of this car and it looks like it’s in great condition to me. Being made in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where they know all about road salt, a lot of these cars have rusted into a pile of dust by now, that is if they weren’t forced off of the road by some mechanical issue. Luckily this one ended up in Wyoming where winter roads are friendlier to sheet metal. Speaking of mechanical issues, this car doesn’t shift, it’s stuck between reverse and 1st gear for some reason. It rolls fine but that stuck shifter will have to be figured out. The interior looks as great as the exterior does, to me at least. There’s a cigarette burn on the driver’s seat and some probably-1980s “high-tech” thing stuck to the left side of the gauge cluster, (Alarm? Aftermarket cruise control? What is that?) but other than that it looks nice inside. The back seat looks like new and you can tell that they actually used this car, there’s a child seat back there! There are no photos of the 1.7L, 78 hp inline-four cylinder engine but supposedly it runs great. It’s just that dang stuck shifter. This would draw at least a small crowd at almost any gas station or car show. Do you think you could troubleshoot that stuck transmission, and if so, is this Encore worth saving given its nice condition?

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  1. RayT Member

    $500 for this? See Howard A’s comment in the Mercury Comet Cyclone writeup. This is stratospheric money for an AMC/Renault product….

    Sad to say, these things were dogs. I have owned and liked Renaults, but the Kenosha-built products of their marriage with American Motors were sadly lacking. The only saving grace for this particular car is that it doesn’t have the digital dash used in some Alliances.

    I’d save the 500 scoots and build up my kitty so I could buy the Mercury. Or the Isetta.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Ray, I fear you are right. Nobody wanted them then, doesn’t look too good for the Encore now. Matter of fact, I believe, the workers were laid off in Kenosha, to let demand catch up with inventory, which it never did. IDK, my brother had an Alliance. Was an ok car, about as exciting as a turtle race. The only car I ever saw with an “oil level” gauge. I also heard, the workers were disgruntled about these, and did crummy work to sabotage them. With such poor quality, most probably never realized that.

      • RayT Member

        Howard, the oil level gauge — which, IIRC, worked only when the ignition was turned on but BEFORE the engine was started — was one of those peculiar French ideas that didn’t catch on elsewhere. The Fuego (and, maybe, the 18i) had it as well.

        I always felt things started going sour for Renault when they started worrying about what the American market wanted. The R5 was a “world car” sold elsewhere for four years before they brought it to the U.S., and the R15, -16 and -17 were designed to appeal to the French, which made them too quirky for most Americans (except me!)….

        The Appliance, Encore, and 18i were real duds. They didn’t handle as well as earlier Renaults — and didn’t ride as well — or, in all honesty, stand out in any way.

  2. LD

    I raced one in the series that Renault sponsored-great fun! Renault gave $1500 (not sure on actual amount) after you did 3 races. You had to be a LeCar racer to get the money, and to understand why we liked racing Encores….
    This one on eBay, I’ll pass LD71😄

    • 2vt

      I have now an Alliance Cup Car. I raced in the series in 1984 and 1985. This particular car has 35,000 track miles on it. That is pretty durable. 60hp and 1900lbs and great handling made for a fun series. See Facebook Renault Cup.

  3. Alan (Michigan)

    Someone bought it. !!!

    Had a friend from Toledo who raced in the series also. Seems to me that repairing crinkled sheet metal was a constant issue, since the cars were slow and always bunched very closely together on the track.

    Eh, the “edit” feature is not functioning?

    • Derek

      Slow definitely doesn’t mean uncompetitive; I race in the uk 2CV series…

  4. Todd Zuercher

    That’s an aftermarket cruise control pod to the left of the steering column.

  5. DrinkinGasoline

    It’s a RenNooooo !! To pronounce it correctly.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi DG, my old man always pronounced it ” Renultz”, and dag-nabbit, that’s what I’m gonna call them. ( and called the Peugeot, “POO-Joes”) French cars, and British were the only imports my old man would allow in his driveway. Dubja Dubja 2, you know.


    I bought my now ex-wife one and paid 500.00 for one in 1989. It only had 50k on it and we drove the piss out of it for a year. Sold it for the same amount, I am probably the only person in North America that came out on the positive.

  7. KeithK

    I worked on these when new. Horrible. Never again. There is a certain expectation of perfection we all associate with a “new” car. These never met that criteria but buyers expected them to. Especially when being sold side by side with Hondas. Thanks. My nervous twitches and nightmares have returned.

  8. chad

    what engine wuz indair?
    We had a Delphine when there were still signal semaphores on 4 turn sign. in back!


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