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May 9 Weekly Open Thread--A Brace of Alliances

Alliance1 Happy Monday, everybody--this is, as usual, the place for off-topic and random conversation.

This weekend, I discovered something remarkable, namely that what have to be the two nicest AMC/Renault Alliances remaining in the world are both for sale at the same time. Which, in turn, raises the question whether you find any Alliance, no matter how nice, even remotely desirable. Given that this is a crisply styled 1980s French car with an AMC affiliation and was available as a lumpy five-door, I think you can guess my answer.

Alliance No. 1 is a 1987 Alliance five-door that has 110,000 miles but that has been completely and lovingly restored to original. It's in staggeringly good condition, and would be a fantastic choice for the person who urgently wants to drive a brand new 1987 Alliance. If, you know, that person exists.

Alliance2 Actually, Alliance No. 2 would be an even better choice, given that it is still basically brand new--it's an Alliance convertible with only 340 miles. It truly is stunning, with its vintage hubcaps, pinstriping, and its lovely soft blue interior.

I always liked the Alliance a bit, particularly the GTA model, but it always lagged behind the Fuego for me during this era. But I would very happily drive either of these two cars.

If you found a car undesirable when it was new, would you feel differently if you saw a perfectly preserved example now?

--Chris H.

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Chris, I won't mention the marque, but there are some cars that I despised in the 70s and still loathe to this day. I didn't like the way they smelled even when new, the way the doors sounded when they closed, their shape(s), the gosh-awful screech their starters made, and especially their cheap trim levels (Hint: one was so stripped down, they removed the rear window regulators and fixed them into place. You had to pay extra to be able to roll them down).

So the answer to your question is no, even though some of these cars are fetching a fortune on the market these days. If I had one, I'd get the going price and buy something I really liked. Like a new Ferrari FF.

Ever wonder, "What if the French had deliberately set out to recreate the Chevrolet Vega?" No need to even ask the question; just look at the Alliance, and you'll know.

I think I like the idea of owning an Alliance a lot more than I would actually enjoy owning one. We're talking about a French-engineered car built to Kenosha manufacturing standards. That's not exactly a ringing endorsement of automotive excellence there.

Still, good on those two for keeping some Alliances on the road. I definitely admire the spirit of their efforts.

Damn, I like that first one. Admittedly, I'm pretty sure the quality standards are an obstacle, but I really rather like the utilitarian design of that one. Had a traveling frat brother who had a Renault and really liked it. He put thousands of miles on it.

As it was, I spent much of last week using my old Mustang II as a field car, for which it is remarkably well-adapted though not well-suited in its current state as a well-preserved object of its kind. Well. I would almost kill for a 1973 El Camino for a field vehicle, but it would probably be impractical. Massively cool though.

I used to really hate the late '70s Grand Marquis. Saw two at a show last year, and thought they were great! I'd buy one in a heartbeat if I had the room and an oil well in my yard.

The other ones are the original K cars. Thought they were characterless bricks when new, and would rather have walked than rode in one. I saw a two door version at our local car museum, and yowza! That's a neat looking car, much more interesting than the soulless jellybeans being peddled now.

My wife's first car (purchased before me met) was a basic-trim refrigerator white Renault Alliance 2-door sedan. Beige vinyl seats, no A/C, no power anything. We called it the "Renault Appliance" of course (for it's boxy looks - certainly not for it's reliability).

In fact, it digested alternators on a regular basis, and regularly wouldn't start until *just* before AAA arrived and hooked up the jumper cables. I'm pretty sure the battery idiot light maintained a faint, pulsating glow the entire time she owned it.

Once we could afford it, the replacement cherry red Nissan Sentra felt like a Mercedes in comparison. Beyond normal maintenance and infrequent replacement of wear items, there were no unscheduled issues in well over 10 years and 100K miles.

Yes, these two Alliance examples look great...good luck to the new owners!

"The other ones are the original K cars. Thought they were characterless bricks when new"

That's funny, I went through the same thing. The interesting thing about them, in my view, is that they made them like mini versions of regular sedans. IIRC, at the time most compact cars were hatchbacks (Omni, Rabbit) or mini-wagons (Vega), although I suppose the Fairmont was similar in being a basic sedan. Kinda neat that they made them with 2 or 4 doors and a trunk.

The Alliance was an interesting car in it's day. It got panned from all sides, but it was cute and clean and had a very french feel in driving. As I remember it there was a lot of suspension travel and a considerable amount of chassis roll. This made for very comfortable ride - handling was good and predictable but not particularly crisp. Still a nice little car.

Between the electrics, poor build quality, cooling issues, and a stream of other issues I would stay far far away. However, they were cool looking and the GTA pulled 0.83 G's (when it ran). Junk, but pretty Junk.

You don't see the Renault equivalent of that Alliance on the roads in the UK today, but then I suppose that's hardly surprising.

My next door neighbor's mother must have had the only reliable Alliance ever made. She had her's for over 8 years and probably only changed the oil every 10k miles. Yet, the damn thing kept running and never left her stranded. I think it was the idea of two negatives that yielded a positive. (My friend's mother who did little if any maintenance and the horrible reliabilty of the Marque yielded a once in a lifetime event = a reliable Alliance).

Interesting 2 cars, but no thanks

Even if I gouged my eyes out and stabbed my car-soul in the heart I couldn't get myself to drive an Alliance.

I think personally I'd much rather have its 90's descendant.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7c/Renault_Megane_front_20080104.jpg
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/35/Renault_Megane_rear_20080104.jpg

Friend of mine had the coupe version, and bar her one having been crashed at some point, it was an entertaining hot hatch even in non-hot versions. And I'm prity sure it used the same base floorplan as its Renault 19 predecessor - which was an upgraded version of the 9 floorplan. Just think, if Renault and Chrysler had managed to work things out they could have sold this instead of the Neon.

Ah yes, AMC and Renault... if ever there was a clear case of the blind leading the blind, this was it. I suppose it was a valiant alliance (no pun intended), it probably bought AMC a few more years than they otherwise would have had... I can only hope the Chrysler and Fiat alliance doesn't suffer the same fate. They seem to be off to a promising start so far (but then, so did AMC and Renault at the time). Time will tell I guess.

You would never believe that the Renault 9 (the European version of the Alliance) was one of the most popular and best selling European cars of all time. Also, in any year before 1987, the 5-door Alliance would have been called an Encore. Renault Encore. My dad had one when I was in middle school and I always loved that car. I was hoping it would last long enough to be my first car when I turned 16 but alas, it was a Renault after all.

Oh yeah, Vie. Those Clio Renaults are HUGE in W. Europe. I saw them all over Paris, Italy, Copenhagen, etc. We have a friend in Florence with one and it has been good to him.

The guy with the hatchback in Canada says he put 400,000 kilometers on each of two other Renaults. That's 250K miles. There is always someone who put a quarter million 'almost trouble free' miles on the worst cars ever made, and they're found on the net. When these cars were new, they were EVERYWHERE. They sold 623,573 of them here in 5 years, most in the first 2 years. They were gone just as fast. People had their finances ruined. Drivers were scorched by popping heater cores, leading to a recall so drastic that Chrysler had to search out every Alliance and Encore sitting in a junkyard, yank the OE heater core and leave a new one on the front seat. The European market car was no better. I used to have an Austrian car magazine with a one year test of the Renault 9, the home market Alliance. They actually took it apart after a year, down to individual parts. More of it was worn out than any other car they'd subjected to a 1 year test. It was junk by the standards of the European mass market cars that the Japanese killed off in the US with their quality.

The Alliance was really years ahead of its time.
It had Bendix fuel injection running ultra-lean for amazing real-world gas mileage. The EPA scores it the same as the contemporary Golf Diesel, which says a lot.
It was probably the first American-made car with a pressurized cooling system. It was certainly the first AMC with front wheel drive, CV joints, OHC, and a million other "normal" features. I'm pretty sure the automatics were controled electronically (they were in other Renaults).

In a nutshell, the AMC dealers did not know what hit them. Renault could have sent them alien technology from Area 51 and they wouldn't have been much more out of their league.

I don't think that the Alliance was a particularly unreliable car. They all disappeared around the same time because nobody was supporting them. Hard to keep a car running when the dealer who sold it doesn't even remember the brand.

Let's not forget that Renault also designed one of the great success stories of the 80s, 90s and beyond: the Jeep Cherokee.

Jeep Cherokee a success, really This POS was rubbished when new in OZ for being a gutless gas guzzler with limited off road ability full of outdated mechanicals a good idea but it competed with LandRovers and Landcruisers and is hopelessly out classed.

@Bryce:
The Cherokee started in the States in the 1980's and remained true to its roots until the early 2000's. The Cherokee's engines increased in power(from a 2.5l 4cyl/ 2.8L V6) to the legendary 4.0L inline six ( starting at about 160hp to about 200hp in its final form). In this form the Cherokee had a reliable drivetrain that also provided pretty decent economy/power for the time.

The Landcruiser/LR were true body on frame 4wd. The Cherokee used some unibody components and traded some off road ability for better on road drivability. There are still a ton of them on the roads in the States and an active community keeping them on the road. In that sense, these were a complete success for AMC and then Chrysler.

Believe there is a difference in owning an Alliance and owning one as your 20k miles/year work car. If you have room in the driveway, an Alliance would be quite a conversation piece. Other than that, I didn't think very highly of them in 1987.

Actually Kenny, its a Megane, not a Clio. The Megane is a small family car, while the Clio is a supermini.

Wish we in the UK got the smallest Renault of that era though, the Twingo was so damn cute back then.

The Cherokee was a rare kick butt addition from the Americas. My Mom had a Straight 6 1987 model Comanche 4WD truck. Damn tough. Balsey and could climb anything with the Rancho suspension kit. Got her through the roughest terrain imaginable in Baja Mexico for over 16 years. It handled very well for a 4WD truck too. I wish she never sold it.

My thoughts exactly.Oh Happy Day. I want one of these.

Mum had a ca. '87 1.4 auto 4 door. Worst car ever. Non-reclining seats(!), gutless, cheap-looking and -feeling, Manitoba winters made short work of the crap plastics. The window crank handles snapped one by one.

Anyone excusing these cars as misunderstood and mishandled by AMC, or worse, recommending one to a friend, should be sentenced to drive one every day for a year.

The base Civic CX hatchback that followed our Alliance, on the other hand, became a well-loved, reliable, do-anything-asked-of-it member of the family.

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