Rare Rides: Soar Like an Eagle With the 1988 Renault Medallion

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

The Rare Rides series has featured a few Renaults from the Eighties and Nineties previously, and even one sporty coupe which shared a showroom with today’s Rare Rides subject. It’s the family-friendly Renault Medallion, in comfortable grey wagon guise. Let’s take a look.

The Medallion started its life out in France as the Renault 21. Excluding the North American market, it went on sale around the globe in 1986. Designed to replace the rather dated and 1970s Renault 18, the family sedan was an instant hit. Around that same time, the product offerings at North American AMC/Jeep/Renault dealers was looking a bit thin. But Renault executives had a plan. Ready the Medallion!

Original Giugiaro styling was reworked, and safety features added, to comply with American regulations. The cars were largely finished in Maubeuge, France, and then fully completed when they reached port in the United States. It was on domestic shores where trim level options were added.

All Medallion models used a 2.2-liter inline-four engine (103 hp), from the executive Renault 25 sedan. Transmission options included a five-speed manual or three-speed automatic. An early adopter of the transverse engine layout, Renault saved space with the configuration in its smaller cars.

For its North American launch in 1987, the Medallion replaced the Renault 18 like in other markets. It also filled the void left by the midsize AMC Concord, which had its last year in 1983. One of three offerings sent over from Renault, the Medallion joined the compact Alliance linked in the headline paragraph, and the full-sized and luxurious Premier sedan.

The Medallion was available in sedan or wagon formats, the latter offering seven-passenger accommodation via a front-facing third row seat. An update in 1988 was mostly of the legal variety, as the Eagle brand entered the fray and replaced the quirky and offbeat (to Americans) Renault name. This transition to Eagle was not all at once — Renault badges stayed on the Medallion through the 1988 model year.

1989 was the end of the line for Medallion. The Eagle badge was now displayed proudly at the front, with “imported for Eagle” badges at the rear. If all went well with Medallion, Chrysler’s plan was to discontinue the sedan version and replace it with a true Eagle, in the form of the four-wheel drive wagon variant available in other markets. Poor sales put an end to this idea, and thus to hopes for another four-wheel drive wagon from the brand of the noble bird.

Today’s Rare Ride was listed a little while back on the Seattle Craigslist. In pretty clean condition, the wagon racked up an impressive 192,000 miles in its life. It was offered for just $1,500 American dollars.

[Images: seller]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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3 of 32 comments
  • WallMeerkat WallMeerkat on Nov 05, 2018

    The 21 on which the Medallion is based could support Longitudinal or Transverse engines. The 1.7 was Tranverse, larger engines were Longitudinal. There were also wheelbase differences between these engine formats.

  • Road_pizza Road_pizza on Nov 14, 2018

    My father had one of those, what a turd. Still have PTSD from dealing with that rolling abortion.

    • John R Groves John R Groves on Aug 31, 2023

      Been there done that!!!!!! 5 weeks in the shop trying to get the headlights to work.

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