Junkyard Find: 1985 Renault Alliance

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

By 1985, it was clear to everyone that the Renault Alliance, product of the strange AMC/Renault mashup that failed to save the “not too big to fail” Wisconsin automaker, wasn’t quite as good as the ’83 Motor Trend Car of the Year award suggested. Still, enough Alliances sold that you still see them in the junkyard every now and then. Here’s one I spotted in a California self-serve yard last month.

The base Alliance L sedan listed $6,650 in 1985, and that wasn’t much more than a Chevy Cavalier sedan. If you wanted a Civic sedan that year, you’d have paid $7,092— if you could find a Honda dealer selling at list price in the mid-1980s, which was unlikely. So, the Alliance, with its European design and made-in-America patriotism, looked good on paper.

Unfortunately, even the wretched Cavalier seemed reliable in comparison to the Franco-Kenosha product. The Alliance got great fuel economy and had a comfy ride, but: Renault in America. When Chrysler bought the shattered remnants of AMC in 1987, it euthanized the Alliance.

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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  • Muse Muse on Mar 27, 2012

    My grandfather bought an Alliance coupe from his sister in 1988 the day I was born. Actually, it was BECAUSE I was born, and he was stranded in Washington DC after his Volvo died a horrible death. It was the car whose back seat I leaned to HATE by age 7, due to a lack of leg room, and the fact that you had to ABUSE the passenger seat to get it to lean forward. When my grandmother bought a Neon coupe in 1998 (now my car. love it), I celebrated the extra three inches or so with great gusto. I hated the Renault with a passion as a passenger, but looking back at it, apart from developing a giant hole in the exhaust before it finally got sent to the scrapyard in 2000, they really didn't have any problems with it.

  • Milojones Milojones on Jun 02, 2012

    I just bought a 1985 Renault Alliance 1.7L limited in really good shape. Its a convertible andrides well. I have it parked next to my Lexus and it doesnt look like an eye sore. Just drove it from Philadelphia where I bought it on ebay to Chicago where i live. -@milanjajic

  • Bd2 Probably too late to do anything about it for the launch, but Kia should plan on doing an extensive refresh of the front fascia (the earlier, the better) as the design looks really ungainly.
  • Namesakeone Since I include SUVs and minivans as trucks, I really cannot think of a brand that is truly truckless. MG maybe?
  • Sobhuza Trooper Subaru, they were almost there with the BRAT. --On a lighter note, where the hell is my Cooper Works Mini truck?
  • Mike Evs do suck, though. I mean, they really do.
  • Steve Biro I don’t care what brand but it needs to be a compact two-door with an ICE, traditional parallel hybrid or both. A manual transmission option would be nice but I don’t expect it - especially with a hybrid. Don’t show me an EV.