I can’t decide if the Renault Alliance was really a bad car or if it was somehow broadly misunderstood, it certainly doesn’t get much respect even though it was very highly touted the first couple of years it was on offer. This particular one was brand new soon after I got my driver’s license and I know I had zero interest back then in getting to know one any closer. While they are nowadays extremely rare to find (although two seemed to be in the background of two different posts on CC this week!), this particular one was in the domestic section of the junkyard badged as an AMC. Which of course makes some sort of sense, seeing as how it was the pride of Kenosha, and built there as part of AMC’s alliance with Renault.
From a styling perspective it’s certainly in the idiom of its time with squared off corners and the rudimentary beginnings of aerodynamics but visually it certainly reminds more of the early ’80’s VW Jetta and even the Toyota Corolla and Mazda GLC sedan, all of which had been vastly updated in terms of styling by 1986. What surprises is just how small it is on the outside; cars have gotten bigger again over the last 35 years, that’s for sure.
The Alliance actually hung on until 1987 and may possibly have done so even longer than that, the reason it was ultimately canned was due to AMC finally finding a savior in Chrysler. The original impetus for selling the Alliance (and the Encore) was due to AMC being on the ropes, having factory space in Kenosha, not having a small car program of its own, then convincing Renault to step in with a lot of money and use the AMC sales channel to sell more cars than what they were already selling there (LeCar and R18). Renault decided to do just that but didn’t exactly shout their name to the world, that front Renault badge is positively tiny.
Still tiny, even embiggened for this picture. A far cry from what badges have grown to nowadays.
The Alliance was basically a rest-of-world Renault 9, the exterior was styled by Robert Opron, but the interior was done by AMC’s Dick Teague. Originally introduced here for 1983 in the middle of 1982 in both two-door as well as four-door versions, eventually a hatchback version (Encore) was introduced which was analagous to the Renault 11, but the convertible version was developed and only ever offered over here. Pricing was quite attractive, starting at $5,595 back then, quite a bargain for what was the 1982 European Car Of the Year while also being very well received in the press over here.
The Alliance was only offered with a 1.4liter 4-cylinder at the outset, producing 64hp and 75lb-ft of torque, a carryover from the LeCar. In base form the car weighed just over 2000 pounds, but performance was still not exactly sprightly with the 0-60mph sprint taking over 14 seconds in optimal conditions. Within a couple of years a 1.7l was offered as an option, however the 1.4 remained as the base engine. During 1986 there was even a performance GTA model introduced in both 2door and convertible form, that one had a 2liter engine and looked very good, sort of a Euro-take on the Escort GT of the day.
This car in fact does have the base 1.4l in it. Up here in Denver that would make conditions not exactly optimal for the 0-60mph sprint (or perhaps slow jog), but of course other cars would be similarly affected. Although that’s undoubtedly small comfort when needing to merge onto I-70 with a semi coming up on you at a steady 55. There looks to be enough room in the engine bay for a second 1.4l should one be so inclined…
This lurid shade of Smurf Blue seemed to be popular amongst the US makers (or better, producers) as I think Ford as well as VW had something similar in the Escort and Rabbit in the early ’80’s. It’s nice to see colored interiors but I don’t think this shade would sell these days.
The back seat is trimmed in the same decent looking velour as the front, and no it doesn’t look roomy even in real life although that bottom cushion is a bit out of place. Still, foot room was supposedly decent as the front seats were mounted on a central (to the seat) rail, allowing space on either side. At least the rear windows roll down.
The passenger door was not operable from the outside so I had to do some awkward leaning-in photography here, but wanted to verify that the car did not have air conditioning and while it’s a manual, with the knob missing I wasn’t sure if it was a four or five speed as both were available as was a 3-speed automatic.
Aha! A state-owned fleet car, for use by the Public Defender’s office. Now I’m supposing it was a 4-speed. No frills for the government, but it met the mandate of being built in the US.
It probably had a radio blank plate there as well originally or at most an AM-radio that was eventually replaced by the least fancy Alpine radio I’ve ever seen. I wonder if whoever installed that thought about the Renault – Alpine connection although yes I’m well aware that’s a different Alpine altogether. Kind of like putting Jensen speakers into your Interceptor or an Escort radar detector in your Escort etc…
Only 95,274 miles makes this a well-preserved specimen I suppose. I wonder if it was driven much at all by the Public Defender of if he/she/they preferred whatever else was available. This though is another good example of the “Dashboards of Sadness” genre with only a speedometer, fuel gauge and two idiot lights along with a fair bit of blank space. On the plus side less gauges means less things to look at and potentially worry about. C’est la vie.
Proper amber turn signals back here, alas the badges are gone already, but it looks like at least it has a rear window defroster.
A decent amount of trunk space although it’s on the shallow side vertically speaking. Only a trunk mat here, no carpeting for the sides or the lid.
It does sport a full set of American-as-can-be whitewall tires and in case you didn’t notice earlier the hood is front-hinged. The Alliance was a strong seller at the outset, moving over 142,000 of the first-year models and apparently was supply constrained. By 1986 though demand had been well sated and only around 65,000 combined Alliance and Encores found homes, which is likely how this one came to be sold here at a rock bottom price. By the end of 1986, AMC was offering zero percent financing and laying workers off for an extended holiday break to balance supply with demand. Then, during 1987, it was cancelled after the Chrysler purchase with a total of over 600,000 produced, but demand having dropped off significantly post-1984.
This is likely the reason it was tagged as an AMC in the yard, it’s quite possible some of the workers have never seen a new Renault or are even aware of the existence of the marque, either today or back in the day.
This one will probably sit here for another month or two and then be crushed, there is likely little demand for Alliance parts anymore. Although I did see a red GTA model a couple of months ago heading the other way somewhere in New Mexico on I-40, at first I thought I was seeing a mirage. Somebody out there is keeping the flame alive.