Renault Alliance: Still On the Scrapheap of History

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

While the US government was saving Chrysler with the Chrysler Corporation Loan Guarantee Act of 1979, American Motors had to go to the French government for its bailout.

The debut of the AMC-Renault Alliance (essentially a Kenosha-ized Renault 9) in 1983 so impressed the writers at Motor Trend that they gave it the Car Of The Year award that year. 17 minutes later, everyone realized that the Alliance combined the very worst aspects of French build quality and Wisconsin marketing savvy, with predictable sales results. Still, enough Alliances limped out of the showrooms that we can still see them in junkyards every so often. Here’s one I spotted in a Denver self-service yard a few weeks back; looks like it was still in pretty good shape when its last owner finally gave up.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Kapes13 Kapes13 on Dec 19, 2012

    Wow - yes I still miss my Renault today, and it is interesting to read about the stability of the drive and the experiences of others at the time! I had to double check if mine had 4 wheel drive because I was always in awe at how great mine was to drive in the snow, ANY SNOW, all SNOW, and ICE! Amazing! But I think mine had the warped head, because the car would always overheat in summer. Being a non educated person having to make their way in the world I will never know if that was the reason, I just did not want the car to over heat! Everything else was great! Well I managed to get my Oldsmobile Ciera in trade for that and that Ciera ran for a LONG time after I learned and assisted in car repair! I wish it would have been the Renault, but the Ciera did great too, on snow too! Thanks for reading, I will always wonder what could have been of my Renault I owned (83, automatic, sun roof, boy how I loved that sun roof!) - It was a unique car for sure, and I love unique things! I still miss the car!

  • Rhefner Rhefner on Dec 04, 2015

    Worst car I ever owned. I've lost count of the number of times it was in the shop. The timing belt broke--twice!--and trashed the valves. It had overheating problems, oil leaks, water in the trunk, I've forgotten what else. Too bad. It was a fun car to drive. But the quality control was sub-zero.

    • Robert Suktub Robert Suktub on Mar 07, 2019

      My first car. My parents made me get it even though I paid for it. I hated it so much. So I stopped changing the oil and the engine caught on fire. My dad was so mad but I didn't care.

  • VoGhost Fantastic work by Honda design. When I first saw the pictures, I thought "Is that a second gen Acura NSX?"
  • V16 2025 VW GLI...or 2025 Honda Civic SI? Same target audience, similar price points. Both are rays of sun in the gray world of SUV'S.
  • FreedMike Said this before and I'll say it again: I'm not that exercised about this whole "pay for a subscription" thing, as long as the deal's reasonable. And here's how you make it reasonable: offer it a monthly charge. Let's say that adaptive headlights are a $500 option on this vehicle, and the subscription is $15 a month, or $540 over a three year lease. So you try the feature for a month, and if you like it, you keep it; if you don't, then you discontinue it, like a Netflix subscription. In any case, you didn't get charged $500 up front the feature. That's not a bad deal.In my case, let's say VW offers an over the air chip reflash that gives me another 25 hp. The total price of the upgrade is $1,000 (which is what a reflash would cost you in the aftermarket). If they offered me a one time monthly subscription for $50 to try it out, I'd take it. In other words, maybe the news isn't all bad.
  • 2ACL A good car, but - at least in this configuration -not one that should command a premium. Its qualities just aren't as enduring as those of Honda's contemporary sports cars. For better or worse, this is a formula they remain able to replicate.
  • Jalop1991 I just read that Tesla's profits are WAY down "as the electric vehicle company has faced both more EV competition from established automakers and a slowing of overall EV sales growth." This Cadillac wouldn't help Tesla at all, but the slowing market of EV sales overall means this should be a halo/boutique car. Regardless, yes, they should make it.