Junkyard Find: 1985 Renault Encore

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

While the US government decided Chrysler was too big to fail and bailed out the company with loan guarantees in 1979, American Motors was judged just the right size to fail and had to get bailed out by the French government. This led right to the weird history of the Renault Alliance, which included a Wisconsin-ized Renault 11 hatchback called the Encore. The Encore wasn’t a huge seller in North America and the car tended to deteriorate quickly under American conditions, so today’s Junkyard Find is a rare one.

Can you see yourself in, or maybe as an Encore?

Driverless, stretchy Encores bend lysergically about the nation’s mountain roads!

This car spent at least part of its life being towed behind a giant RV.

There’s no telling how many of these miles took place under the Encore’s own power.

23-channel CBs had been obsolete for quite a few years before this car was built, so this Surveyor rig was an antique even in 1985.

January 10, 1985 was a fine day in Kenosha.

Kenosha or not, this HVAC control panel has a suspiciously foreign look about it.

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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  • BangForYourBuck BangForYourBuck on Nov 17, 2013

    When Chrysler purchased AMC (in whose factories the AMC/Renault Alliance--hence the name 'Alliance'--was built) it acquired the liability for the little French CSO (Car Shaped Object). And since there were so many of these derelicts recalled, but never fixed, Chrysler created an incentive program to encourage owners to get them to the dealers. The heater cores were located interior of the firewall and would burst boiling coolant on the drivers leg often rendering a car accident (following the 2nd degree burn). And since most of these CSO's were also a POS, Chrysler found for just a little more cash they could convince the owner to give up their flimsy little explosive liability issue and maybe sell them a new Neon or something.

    • PaulWisc PaulWisc on Feb 08, 2014

      Were Neon's (Plymouth or Dodge) really any better? When Crysler bought the company it was named Renault/Jeep. Thankfully there were no actual American engineered AMC models left by that time.

  • Sgeffe Sgeffe on Nov 19, 2013

    Two experiences: One was a lady at a former church who was sitting in the passenger seat of their '84 Alliance when the heater core blew its top. She was showered from knees to feet in coolant, and spent several months in the hospital and rehab. Don't know what her ultimate outcome was or if she and her husband were able to recover any damages. Second was when I was a passenger in my buddy's '86 (I think) Alliance after having had dinner on a bone-chillingly cold night. As he was making a left turn (at a light, in the left lane of two), the door flew open!! (The latch had frozen!) If I hadn't been wearing a seat belt, I would have been deposited right onto the roadway, likely under the wheels of whatever happened to be next to us!! He replaced, IIRC, a clutch, both CV joints, and the HVAC control panel (which cost a pretty penny)! I think that car nickeled-and-dimed him enough that he decided to trade up to a fairly decent Mazda 323; there was no big problem for which he junked it.

    • See 1 previous
    • Sgeffe Sgeffe on Mar 22, 2014

      @PaulWisc Both anecdotes are absolutely true!

  • 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.