By on November 2, 2018

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]

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31 Comments on “Rare Rides: Soar Like an Eagle With the 1988 Renault Medallion...”

  • avatar

    heh, my aunt had an Alliance. what a piece of junk.

  • avatar

    A local beard ‘n flat hat farmer here in Western Ohio has five or six of these sitting on his various farms around me. One is always running, the others may be resting for a time as he seems to rotate ’em for use occasionally. One wagon, the others are sedans. He must like them.

    • 0 avatar

      The rarest ones are surely the Eagle badged ’89 models. They revised the grille slightly to accommodate the larger logo.

    • 0 avatar

      “Local beard ‘n flat hat farmer” I need to remember that. I call them straw hats or black hats since we have several varieties locally.

      There was a fairly strong Renault dealer in my area, but the few Medallions sold all disappeared about 20 years ago.

  • avatar

    Those seats look super big and comfy.

  • avatar

    “Just” 1,500.

    I like this but it’s basically buying a headache.

  • avatar

    Gotta love those big greenhouses in those 80’s-90’s cars. I think that is why I like my Sienna. I still contend having good sight lines works in Subaru’s favor, as well as trucks.

    • 0 avatar

      RE: Subaru Visibility.

      Hell yes. That s part of the reason I got a Forester. Have you been inside a new Terrain>? It s the Cave from hell ‘B’ pillar on back.

    • 0 avatar

      Not related to this car at all, but my friend’s girlfriend used to have an 02 Escort and the sightlines were wonderful. Even the 03 Century that I’ll be selling soon has great visibility. I sit in my car, which has decent visibility in my opinion and I still marvel at the Escort that I’ve driven on occasion. I could see everything through those windows.

      The gigantic C pillars in my car (17 Mazda6) are what messes with the visibility. It’s yet another result of fast rooflines.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    A true ‘unicorn’. A Renault in the USA. That is a wagon. That apparently is an MT. That has traveled over 192,000 miles, under its own power. And look at the condition of its interior, including the floor mats. This deserves to be added to someone’s collection/museum.

    Imagine the diligence required by its owner(s) to keep it running and maintain it in this condition.

  • avatar

    I would have guessed 1/3 the miles. NOT 192 K

  • avatar

    “An early adopter of the transverse engine layout”

    In 1987? Hardly early, the VW Rabbit was doing it in 1974

  • avatar

    That seller has to be loving the publicity for his car if he’s even aware of it. First featured on Jalopnik, then on Curbside Classic and now finally on here. I wonder where else it’s been…

  • avatar

    I like how old French wagons were honest to goodness wagons. IIRC this and Peugeot 505s of the Era had longer wheelbase than their sedan counterparts, thus tons of room and possibilities for 3rd row like this. A rare survivor.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Note the bumper sticker on the hatch. You’ll be feeling the burn when in typical 80’s Renault fashion it overheats and the heater core leaks into the passenger compartment.

  • avatar

    Handsome for a wagon. I’d drive it.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    My first trip to Yurp involved renting a manual Renault 25 sedan at Schiphol. I drove it to a house we’d rented in Northern France. After a few minutes of doing the speed limit on the Autoroute – and getting passed by everything else on the road, including tour buses and fleets of Octogenarians on Goldwings – the Gendarmes pulled alongside and motioned me to go faster. That thing happily did 140-160 Km/h for hours at a time. My then Suburban would have blown up. Belgium was nice and green, from what I saw of it in 38 minutes. It was a fantastic little car.

  • avatar

    Good friend of mine in high school had this in sedan form. I actually think it was the Eagle branded car.

    What I remember
    – floaty ride. Suspension travel seemed immense. We used to bomb around on dirt roads no problem but the rear did seem to bottom out easily.

    – he hit a deer one day and next day on way to launch the hvac coughed up a deer hairball onto US.

    – the e brake had the grip of death. Could yank that thing at any speed and it would lock up instantly. Tons of fun in dirt and snow. Or with that suspension he could pull the brake, put the car in reverse, hit the gas and get the whole thing bouncing around like a car with hydraulics. Hilarious to watch.

    Good times with that car.

  • avatar

    Growing up in Montreal, my first car was a 1976 Renault 5 GTL, followed by a R17 Gordini and then a R18 wagon! After years of therapy, I switched to Mazda GTXs for punishment!

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

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

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