Winnebago Built: 1990 Renault LeSharo

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

I know many of you are waiting with fierce anticipation of updates to my 1981 Toyota HiAce project, and I’ve not forgotten you – but the camper conversion is still a few months (years?) away, so this 1990 Renault Winnebago R/V will have to do for now. This example has under 30,000 miles and remains in good condition. You’ll find it here on eBay with a $7,999 Buy-It-Now and the option to submit a best offer. 

In yet another example of the seemingly endless combinations of camper bodies and powerplants, this one is more unusual than most: a Winnebago body with a Renault engine. This is right up there with the BMW diesel-powered Vixen campers, one of which I still deeply want to own someday. This Renault is not sitting at some roadside depot, part of a donation drive to get R/Vs off of West Coast streets; no, it’s being sold by an actual camper who claims their use of the oddball Winnebago has slipped off enough to justify the sale.

Inside looks quite nice, with clean, attractive upholstery, plenty of seating areas and seemingly a smart layout, overall. The seller notes, “All original except a new Igloo fridge. Have a wooden cover on the two-burner stove doubles as a chopping block for preparing those delightful meals.”  I don’t even care about the original fridge being gone – that’s a fine part to replace, if you’re thinking about taking this one on the open road. And the seller claims he wouldn’t hesitate to across the country, all while that Renault-sourced four-cylinder kicks out 20 MPGs.

The tires are new, too, so it seems like this LeSharo is road-trip ready. The LeSharo arrived at a time when the idea of a lumbering, thirsty, big block-powered RV was the last thing anyone wanted. To think now that Sprinter vans are making a serious go at the camper market is a perfect example of, “Everything that’s old is new again” given this LeSharo made parking and maneuvering a breeze – in addition to not having to fill up every few hours. Seems like a fun way to see the country, if you ask me, provided there’s still some level of parts availability for the motor.

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    A 4 cylinder Renault motor,,in this? What, are you nuts? Better stick to the 2 lanes,,,

    6
    • Al

      I rented a Dethleffs RV mounted on a Fiat chassis with a 4 cylinder diesel in Europe. I had absolutely no issues with mountain passes in Austria, Switzerland and Germany. It’s ability to climb steep grades and switchbacks was of no concern. Admittedly I had to gear down, but it was relatively easy with a 6 gear forward manual transmission. Interestingly after conversions it worked out to be a fairly consistent 30 mpg.
      I rented this RV for 8 weeks.
      Would I recommend renting an RV in Europe? Not on your life, never again. It was not the RV, it was the absolutely horrible roads.
      Everyone talks about the Autobahn, yeah they are great and the RV traveled at about 100 km/ph (62 mph), but there are NO campgrounds on or near autobahns.
      To find campgrounds (stellplatts) go on primary roads (narrow & no shoulders and lots of road furniture), or secondary roads (center-line, no shoulders and more road furniture, or tertiary roads (no center-line, no guard rails, possibly railway tracks with aprons to pull onto when trains come).
      It’s just not a holiday anymore. Its a test of endurance. If your spouse is your navigator, you had better have a solid marriage. If you rely on GPS, they don’t tell you how wide the roads are, but the GPS is a must.

      14
      • Al

        road furniture
        1. little gardens sticking out onto the road, so that you have to slow down, and slow down really fast. Slow down for….who knows? Sometimes there was no village, town or what ever.
        2. Pedestrian hump, a piece of road raised like a wide speed hump, but made for pedestrians, there is seldom signage to indicate there is one of these.
        3. No slow-down signs until after the little garden.
        4. Traffic circles, extremely large or very small with no indication you are at one. This is particularly bad when the traffic circle is huge with trees in the middle of it.
        If you want to drive in Europe, get a Garmin GPS, they will bleat if it senses radar of any sort. Buy it at home before you go. Radar detectors are illegal there. The fine for having one is steep, it will really cut into your cash.

        12
    • DaveA

      Flatlands too!

      • Al

        „???¿¿¿???“ !!

        6
  2. Ken Neal-Rosaio

    These weren’t “cross country ready” when they were new. I worked at an RV store in Ohio that sold them in the 80’s, and when the new owners would say they were going to Florida on their first trip, the salespeople would snicker to one another, “nope, you’re going to Georgia, cause that’s where it’s going to break down.”

    16
    • Jim B Clark

      I worked at an RV dealership as well and yeah the service Techs lovingly called them La Sh**holes. Some people were fiercely loyal to that model however, especially the non turbo diesel. To each their own…

      3
  3. 68custom

    To say these are not reliable is an understatement. Wonder how hard a Ls swap would be?

    2
    • LAB3

      Looked at one of these about a year ago and wondered why it was so cheap. Seems that there’s a bit of a cult following for these with a Chrysler sourced power train being a common swap. Doesn’t sound like it’s too difficult but putting in that much effort wouldn’t be worth the time compared to what the same money and effort could get you.

      2
  4. Vance

    Now all you need is a good sturdy truck to tow the Renault when it stops running.

    5
  5. Chris

    These had terrible engines, tons of lawsuits against Renault. The engine block would literally split. Happened to my uncle when his had 40k on it. Total junk from a drivetrain standpoint.

    2
  6. PaulG

    Definition of the LeSharo, see: Yugo…

    7
    • Ralphr

      Its the Yugo of Motorhomes!

      1
  7. Guggie 13

    always liked these , they made them with VW V6 and that solved a lot of problems the Renault s had .

    3
  8. Dave Wright

    On a positive note……….there are lots of “low mileage” models sitting next to homes around the country………after being put there by a tow truck………..any comparison to a Sprinter is delusional…..they are a great vehicle. These were junk from day 1.

    2
  9. Duaney Member

    The Renault diesel engine has a rubber timing belt, has to be replaced every 60K, but with old age, it should be replaced right now if it hasn’t been done already. Valves go through the pistons and a very expensive repair!!!

    1
  10. William Cockayne Member

    Not to mention transmission parts are NOT available. Crap engine by Renault, I`ve got one for parts if anyone needs!!??

    1
  11. Kobus

    Bummer!! was thinking i like the sleek look and well, 70 mph is tops anyway , but you’ve put the skids under me in this case. 🙁

    1
  12. Ken Nelson

    Anyone interested in this one should look on craigslist SF bay area, as for some LONG time now, a fellow i Walnut Creek has been trying to sell 3 as a package deal – 3 mind you – most likely all with the problems associated with this RV.

    I’d rather find a Vixen and fix it up as that was designed, if I recall correctly, by engineer Bill Collins, who was a part of the Delorean team. Bill gave me a chance to sit in the prototype Delorean which was in a bldg somewhere around Troy Mich. back in the ’80s. I had written a story in Feb. 1980 Machine Design mag presenting a plastic car concept I’d dreamed up while in grad school, and amazingly it made the front pg of that MD issue. On the strength of that, I’d been able to present the idea to several Detroit mfrs. and someone at Delorean gave me a chance to look at their prototype, which at that time had a Citroen CX drivetrain in it, not the Euro V6.
    Sitting in the Delorean gave me claustrophobia, as the center console seemed it was shoulder-high to me, and I’m 6′ 4″ tall, so it was REALLY high in that version of the car, with the worst side & rear visibility I’d ever seen in a car. Anyway, when I learned about the Vixen and Collins’ involvement, I looked at that and found he’d really done a great job of engineering/designing an RV with decent mileage and a height which can fit in a regular garage – something no other RV could claim except maybe a VW camper.

    1
  13. Chebby Member

    You can’t stand up in these, which is kind of the whole point of an RV. You’re better off with a van camper built on a dependable chassis.

  14. DaveA

    Homeless housing

    2
  15. Ike Onick

    It’s French. lol.

    1
  16. Ken Nelson

    Worse – It’s Renault. Remember, they were nationalized after the war due to Mr. Renault being called a collaborator – Citroen, Panhard & Peugeot stayed private. And their cars don’t disappear into the ground as fast as the Renaults. They made far too many different models, provided lousy dealer support if any, and didn’t have staying power. Only model worth having if one can support it, is the R16, due to its great ergonomics, multi-function body design/hatchback, mid-engine FWD, and all torsionbar suspension. Still, they rusted way too fast anywhere E. of the Rockies. How do I know? I’ve had two ’67 Caravelles, one ’83 R18i sportwagon, and still have two R16s but they’re in Ca. where they haven’t lost their bodies. And I’ve had far more Citroens and Panhards that are still more intact than the Michigan R18i.

    1
    • Dan Frederick

      I would like to be in touch. I owned about a dozen Renaults in the 70s and 80s–5 R-16s. Still have some parts that I can’t bare to throw out.
      Dan Frederick
      Napa
      707-483-2532

      • Ken Nelson

        Dan, I left you a phone message just now – would like to talk with you about your R16s – I’m looking for parts for mine – my phone is 248-515-9879 – I’m near San Jose.

  17. Rod444

    The only way to make these enjoyable is to swap out out the Renault drivetrain for a GM 3.8 FWD. Then you got power reliability and economy.

  18. DrewP

    At least it won’t rust like a Sprinter…

    2
  19. Ben T. Spanner

    Buy one. Instead of towing a car tow this with a pickup. You’d have dependable transport, a place to camp, and tranportation from the camp site. Or just buy a trailer.

    3
    • Ike Onick

      Even better- Save all of that money and stay at a Hilton. No bugs, no bears and no fellow campers wanting to tell you all about their grandkids.

      2

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