By on September 29, 2017

Image: 1987 Renault Alliance GTAToday we bring you a very special, semi-complicated Rare Rides. It’s an unusual little sports coupe bearing a French diamond on the front, a Wisconsin-made sticker inside the door, and red GTA badging on the sills.

Come check out the Renault Alliance GTA.

Image: 1987 Renault Alliance GTALet’s step back in time for a moment. In 1985, while you were listening to Sting or A-ha, AMC was under majority ownership by Renault. As domestic offerings from AMC winded down in popularity, Renault found itself with excess production capacity in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Chrysler signed on to make use of the excess production capacity in a 1985 deal with AMC/Renault for the assembly of M-body vehicles.

Image: 1987 Renault Alliance GTASo in ’87, while your cassette tape played Huey Lewis and the News, the all-American Chrysler Fifth Avenue and extra-French Renault Alliance were built in the same factory, by the same people. Of course, that wouldn’t be the only thing AMC and Chrysler shared, but we won’t get too far off the trail today. Onward, to Alliance.

Image: 1987 Renault Alliance GTAOn sale between 1983 and 1987, all Alliance models were assembled in Wisconsin. The Alliance offered three different body styles for the Francophile American — a sedan, coupe, and cabriolet was available. Specific to the sporting GTA variant, you could have either the coupe or the cabriolet.

Image: 1987 Renault Alliance GTAUnder the hood, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine was the only available power plant. Owners who opted for premium grade fuel could expect a full 90 horsepower. Zero to 60 came up in 10.2 seconds, which is slightly slower than a current Subaru Outback with a 2.5-liter and CVT. Computers are getting faster, and so are cars!

Image: 1987 Renault Alliance GTAJust four colors were available for this sporty Alliance; white, red, silver, and black. The GTA variant received suspension upgrades, as well as better brakes, larger exhaust, spoiler, and special cladding surrounding the exterior. All GTA variants came with a manual transmission.

Image: 1987 Renault Alliance GTAThis Rare Ride is located in Oregon (as most have been lately), and is apparently owned by an individual who also has a sweet Astro RS. Well-traveled at 132,000 miles, the GTA’s eBay sale still has a few days left. The bid as of writing is $970, and it hasn’t met the reserve. Get to it.

[Images via seller]

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45 Comments on “Rare Rides: 1987 Renault Alliance GTA, the Sporty Franco-American Hybrid...”

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Saw an Alliance convertible just last week, parked on the main street in Midland Ontario. It looked to be in very good shape. Didn’t think that there were any left and have now learned that there are at least 2.

    Nearly bought a new Alliance, decided instead to get another Civic. Guess that I am not always wrong.

    • 0 avatar

      They’re surprisingly common, there’s always at least one on Kijiji at all times. I remember once I searched “Renault” and there was three GTAs for sale at once.

  • avatar

    Looks to be in beautiful condition…and it made 132,000+ miles.
    Wonder how much repair and replacement that took?

    If that’s the original paint, it’s certainly shiny as could be…and the seats in fine shape also.

  • avatar

    We had one, a red 87, that I drove for a bit in high school before it broke the timing belt and that was all she wrote. Learned to drive stick on that and a Trooper. GTA was a fantastic car to drive around the Mass back roads. Quick to rev, handled great, comfortable tweedish seats, Blaupunkt, Ronal alloys.

    Dad replaced it with a white Mercury Capri XR2 turbo. Before that he had an MGB, Fiat Spider, and a V8 Wrangler. He likes the good stuff.

  • avatar

    Looks like a car you have to drive at 9/10ths to 10/10ths in order to appreciate it.

    • 0 avatar

      9/10ths = getting it up to the flow of traffic on the freeway? Lol

      Hey, I’m all about the “drive a slow car fast” thing.

      • 0 avatar

        In ’87, 10 seconds to 60 was plenty fast. That is about what my ’84 Jetta GLI could do, and it felt like a rocket compared to most of the dreck of the day. Don’t forget, that isn’t much slower than entry level Porsches of the day.

        The biggest problem with modern cars is that they are so smooth and quiet that they feel slow even when they aren’t until you get to what is really kind of silly levels of performance. There is just no drama.

        I always kind of liked the Alliance/Encore. They felt French.

  • avatar

    Cool car! I bet my Encore would have been a lot less terrifying to drive if it had been outfitted with the 2.0 instead of the wheezy 1.4. But it probably wouldn’t have shed parts any slower. I’m amazed this car has lasted so long.

    Nitpick: Renault held a controlling interest in AMC but I’m pretty sure they were never technically a majority owner. When Chrysler bought AMC, Renault had a 46% stake in the company.

  • avatar

    Never drove a US-spec car, but drove a Spanish-spec one with the 1.7 not long after I got my license. No power, but an eager chassis as is typical of small European cars. Felt great on snaky cliff roads in northeast Spain, er, Catalonia.

    Unfortunately I understand the US cars were horribly put together.

  • avatar

    $970 is generous.

  • avatar

    A buddy of mine has that car in silver, prepped for Street Prepared autocross. It’s a hilarious blast to drive.

  • avatar

    Doesn’t look terrible in all white, but I think I’d like it better in red. Not my kinda car, really, but its quirky enough that I might would enjoy it for a while.

    I hate to jump tracks to another subject, but Corey, you’ve become my go-to guy for Japanese luxury cars. Congrats on that, by the way. (lol)

    Anyway, what do you think of the first gen Acura TSX? I know its a lux’ed up Euro Accord, and I’m just fine with that, but I’ve always liked how they look, and I think its what I’m looking for. I’m supposed to be going on a well-paying job around the first of the year, if not sooner, and I want to treat myself to a nice, fun-to-drive Honda product. I would only get the 6 speed manual, I found a clean 2004 with 170k for $3800. The leather, paint, etc look great. I doubt that particular car will still be there when it comes time to buy, but if its any indication of what I’ll find for the money, I think it’ll be a winner.

    I would get an RSX, except I don’t like the styling (too boy-racer) and finding one that hasn’t been abused and “modded” to death is like trying to find a 4.0L I-6 Jeep that doesn’t leak oil.

    Another candidate would be a 1997-2001 Prelude, an SH if I could find it. I like the late 1990s Civic Si, but I think the Prelude or TSX would be more of a touring car, with a more compliant suspension, and that’s what I’m looking for. I am not expecting a Town Car-quality ride, I’d get a B or C-body Oldsmobile for that, but I want something that won’t beat me to death yet still handles well and will put a smile on my face when its being hustled through the bends.

    I do plan to buy an additional car I can use for ride sharing, for when I’m not able to go on a job like this, and its likely to be a 2006ish Accord LX 5 speed. Not my favorite bodystyle, but its roomy, reliable and should drive decent while getting good mileage. I might look at an Amanti, but I’m scared that I’ll spend more money keeping it going than I will make from using it, even though its tailor-made for the job.

    Your thoughts on the TSX?

    • 0 avatar

      Well thank you, ha.

      I’ve been in and driven a gen 1 TSX. Overall as I recall, the steering was falsely heavy, and had a strong on-center feel which would pull the wheel out of your hands. That’s “sporty,” I suppose. The ride was also a bit stiff, and the interior materials were nothing special. I’d recommend the revised 06-08 version, as it got additional horsepower (5) and some exterior restyling to make it a bit more current. 4-cylinder only and a decently heavy car, so they’re not fast.

      Though it doesn’t apply here, this model has a different automatic transmission than the trouble-prone Accord and TL, so no worries there.

      Overall they’re pretty solid, just a bit dated.

      Preludes are firmly in “I know what I got” territory now, and I don’t think I’d mess with it. They’ve also been modded, or usually have some sketchy ownership story behind them.

      Acura CL Type-S manual? (Or perhaps Accord Coupe, for “newer Prelude”)
      Lexus IS300 manual?
      Lexus GS330?
      Infiniti G35 manual (coupe?)

      If not Amanti, what about the gen 1 Azera? Saw those all over S Korea (as the Grandeur) with super high miles, used as taxis.

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks Corey.

        Yes, the G35 crossed my mind, and I may drive one if I can find an unmodded coupe with a manual. The CL and TL don’t have the tidy good looks that the TSX does, but I’d be open to driving them to see how I like them. I have thought about a GS as well, but it has never been a good looking car to me. Not necessarily ugly, just does nothing for me.

        The Accord coupe, for me, stopped being desirable in 1998 and didn’t become desirable again until 2013. The 1998-2002 Accord sedan, now, is handsome and actually what I was looking for before finding that TSX. I spent a decent amount of time in one, an LX 5 speed, and I liked it. If a decent TSX (etc) isn’t possible, its a good second choice.

        I found a 2013 Accord LX coupe manual (which is what I’d want, I don’t want a V-6) in nice conditon, one-owner for $11k. I could swing it, but not by paying cash, which is what I want to do. If I did buy a 2013-17 LX coupe, it would put me in a bind financially and I don’t want to do that for a car I can’t use for ride sharing, and for a car I can’t drive all the time, being a manual. A manual is okay most of the time, not all of the time, however I’m not going to compromise with an automatic in a car that’s supposed to be fun to drive.

        I know my positions here may contradict one another, but such is life, lol. Buying a car for, say, under $5k that I only drive when I feel like it seems smarter than paying payments on something that may sit 50% of the time.

        The Azera is mechanically similar to the Amanti, but I like the Amanti better in the looks department. With the KDM Opirus grille, it looks distinctive, not anonymous like the Hyundai. Yes, its a parody of itself, but that’s okay. I know its a silly knock-off of actual luxury cars, but it pulls it off IMO.

        The safer choice would be a 2008-2009 Taurus or Sable, the refreshed Five Hundred ones. They’re on the list as well, and I’m also willing to look at a Scion xB, xA and xD, or a Nissan Cube. The small-but-roomy boxes seem a natural for the job.

    • 0 avatar

      I owned a very early 2004 TSX (one of the first off the boat) for two years and 25,000 miles, and my impressions were a bit different from Corey’s. It’s possible that’s because we experienced the cars at different points in their life cycles. Steering was excellent, not falsely heavy or light, with better feel than most Hondas. Ride wasn’t cushy, but it wasn’t stiff either; I thought the ride/handling balance was perfect for a compact sedan with mild sporting pretensions. The manual (which I owned) was far more satisfying than the auto (which I got as a service loaner); the K24 is an engine that rewards driver involvement.

      • 0 avatar

        Thank you Dal, I really appreciate your perspective as a one-time owner. Obviously, some seat time will determine the acceptability of the ride, but I think it’ll be fine.

        And yes, a manual is the only way I’d buy this car. I have no plans to get rid of the Taurus, so its my /defacto/ automatic grocery-getter for when I’m unable or unwilling to work a clutch pedal.

  • avatar

    I remember when these came out – always thought they looked good with the extra cladding and monotone paint scheme.

  • avatar

    Had one of these (albeit in convertible form) for a few months in the early 2000s. Used it as a commuter in Los Angeles, for which it was pretty well-suited.

    Where the car really shone was on canyon roads. It and a ’77 LeCar were tremendous fun on Mulholland Drive: people in BMWs seemed to really hate how either car could hang on their back bumper in the twisty bits, be blown away in the straights, and catch right back up with them at the next set of bends. It was a tremendously fun car, but eventually ended up being sold to part-fund my first Peugeot 405 Mi16.

    Trivia: the 2.0-litre engine in the GTA was unique to the North American market; neither the rest-of-world Renault 9 or 11 (which the Alliance and Encore were based on, respectively) received it.

  • avatar

    Still waiting for an article on this one, Corey. It’s been for sale for like 4 months now, it’s only a matter of time before it ends up at the wrecker.

  • avatar

    I had the luck (or misfortune depending on how you see it) to drive one of these for a half a day in the late 1980s. The car was owned by a friend. From what I remember it was fun to drive, surprisingly agile and it handled like a go-kart; and not much else.

    The build quality felt flimsy at best, the cabin was cheaply made and put together and various aspects of the interior did not align properly. The engine, though lively, sounded crude and rough. But for the cheap prices they were asking I suppose that was ok.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think what you are describing is all that out of line with what else was available at the time (Rabbit GTI, Crapalier, Escort, Omni/Horizon). The whole point of a “pocket rocket” or “hot hatch” of that era is that it was (relatively) fast and fun, but had numerous rough edges that were part of the package because after all it was an economy car at its roots.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree. They had their good points, but were built to a price and showed it. You want refinement and excellent build quality? You wouldn’t find it in an Escort GT or even the Civic Si of the era. I’ve owned and driven many cars from this era, it all comes down to “you get what you pay for”.

        Selecting the sport model just turned a dull economy car into a less-dull, somewhat more enjoyable economy car.

        The compacts of today don’t have as many compromises, so it is possible to buy a Focus ST or Civic Si and not have it rattle to pieces, be annoyingly harsh and uncomfortable, or embarrass you with its profound cheapness.

        Sure, moving up to a Fusion Sport or Accord buys you a better interior and more refinement, but anyone complaining about modern small cars need look no further than 1987 to put things in perspective. The advances in safety, interior NVH and material quality, reliability and power are astounding. Heavier? Yes. But, they also don’t make do with at or less than 100 hp, either. They stop well, they accelerate well, they handle well, and they do a fine job of protecting you in a crash, as well as helping you avoid one in the first place.

        All that said, I do like many of those older cars, I enjoyed my Tempo GLS and my CRXs (to name a couple of examples), they were not bad in their own way, but there’s no denying the fact that they were very cheap and fairly crude.

  • avatar

    I remember these cars. I thought that they should have given the GTA treatment to the Encore hatchback instead, but maybe they didn’t want to compete directly with the VW GTI.

    My mother in law had one of these back in the day; at the time my brother in law lived on her farm, he drove it a fair amount. He liked it a great deal, but ultimately it proved fragile. I thought they were cool, but I was all about the V8s back in the 80’s…

  • avatar

    My most vivid memory of the Alliance GTA is when George C. Scott fell on hard times and had to resort to making television commercials for them.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Back in the early 90’s I looked at a GTA in silver for a mere $900. It was in nice shape, drove well and the bolstered buckets were firm and comfy. But what made me shy away from it was the blue smoke just starting to come out of the exhaust. Apparently oil burning and cooling systems issues are common with these Renaults.
    This could be a neat buy at a good price. An interesting conversation piece at the next AMC meet.

  • avatar

    Not sure exactly why, but I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for these. Maybe it’s the “small Euro box on wheels syndrome” I suffer from. Even in non-GTA trim, they somehow appealed to me. Coworker had one back in the day and I thought the seats were uniquely comfortable. Yes, probably not the highest build quality (and I’ve spent a ton of time at the Kenosha plant), but still. A nice two-door coupe, non-GTA would even be appealing.

    Great find. More of these types, please! The world has enough Ferraris and Porsches to go around.

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica


  • avatar

    Anyone remember James Bond driving one of these cars in A View To A Kill? It got split in half and the whole chase scene took place with only the front half of the car.

    • 0 avatar

      Totally remember that scene in “A View to a Kill.” Wasn’t that right around the time the Encore received Motor Trend’s NA COTY? I also think that Duran Duran’s theme song for that movie was killer, pun intended.

  • avatar

    Anyone know what that piece of lower front fascia on the white cabinet to the right of the car is to? Just curious.

  • avatar

    Hmm, Buick or Pontiac perhaps?

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