Weekend Edition – V.I.S.I.T. – Renault Alliance Convertible

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If it was 1987 outside and you wanted a flash European convertible, you had some options. At the top of the price range were the Mercedes-Benz SL and the Jaguar XJS, which had been in production for waaay too long but were still selling like hotcakes. Alfa was still selling its ever-popular Spider, which was aging remarkably well despite the various things that were added to it. Then there were the Saab 900 and BMW 3-series convertibles, both of which came standard with Wayfarers. I’m pretty sure that somewhere in the purchase contract the owner was also obligated to wear a polo shirt with a popped collar at all times. But both of them were kind of pricey, especially the 3-series. And of course Volvo never figured out what a popular car the 780 Cabrio could have been, because they never made it. At the bottom of the price range were the Yugo, the VW Rabbit Cabriolet, and the Renault Alliance. What’s that? You had forgotten completely about the Alliance convertible?

That’s right, the Alliance was a popular and affordable European-plated convertible made right here in the USA. In sunny Kenosha, Wisconsin to be precise. The example I saw here appeared to be in pretty standard condition for a running Alliance. That is; in great cosmetic shape and likely with less than 50K on the clock.  The AMC-built Renaults that I have seen within the last few years have all tended to be in surprisingly swell shape, no doubt most being recently resuscitated examples found in Nana’s old garage out back where she also keeps Star Trek: The Motion Picture-style plastic swiveling chairs and the 1973 Yard-Man riding mower. You know, the green and cream-colored one that Uncle Hiram got at Montgomery Ward at a good discount cause he and the manager were bowling buddies.

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For a car that was in production for six years, and came in sedan, coupe, cabrio, and hatch form, these have disappeared pretty fast. An almost unbelievable 623,000+ examples were built at the AMC plant in Kenosha during that time, and sold through Renault dealers. Depending on where you lived, Renault dealers tended to be either sellers of various import wares such as Poozhoes and Volvos, or side franchises at AMC dealerships. For example, a local and now defunct dealership offered the award winning trio of AMCs, Pew-joes, and Renaults.

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Just how popular were these? The base price, adjusted for 2013 dollars, hovered around 15 grand. Name a European-plated convertible that you could get for that much today. So yes, these moved out of showrooms at a pretty good pace.

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I am starting to get the sense that most of the surviving Renault Alliances are convertibles, because all the other Renaults in the range were treated as disposable, and had been disposed of years before Cash for Clunkers. The convertibles probably weren’t used year round, and tended to be kept in garages which prevented them from immediately dissolving into the ground after the first dusting of snow. And since quite a lot of these were sold in the midwest and the northeast, it’s a safe bet that a lot of Alliance convertibles spent a good six months indoors. So that’s how we’ll have a steady supply of minty-looking Renault Alliance convertibles well into the 2070s.

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15 responses to “Weekend Edition – V.I.S.I.T. – Renault Alliance Convertible”

  1. Felis_Concolor Avatar

    It's close to 3 decades too late to change the tooling, but I am reminded of one auto mag's lament regarding the rear wheel wells, which sported semi concealed rear wheels for the 4 doors but arched it high for the 2 doors.

  2. longrooffan Avatar

    This one is a helluva lot nicer than the last one of these I have seen.
    <img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8088/8439339178_fb997abb3f.jpg&quot; width="500" height="375" alt="dimmits 100">

  3. Batshitbox Avatar

    I like that it's in front of an appraisal place. Lends credence to your "found in the back of grandma's garage" theory. Appraisers always cherry pick the Ameripean cabriolets.

    1. Jay_Ramey Avatar

      One of these on an episode of American Pickers would do wonders for the market value of the Alliance.
      It might even approach, say, the mid-four figures.

  4. PotbellyJoe Avatar

    Local mechanic has a very clean example with low miles that gets serviced there. I commented on it when i was in getting serviced and the tech responded, "Can't put miles on it when it's always getting wrenched."
    Apparently the guy loves it, so he babies it and keeps it in a garage, but every time he goes to use it, something new goes wrong.
    Stockholm syndrome.

  5. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    Way too many older cheap small convertibles to consider before chaining yourself to this boat anchor. But this might be the simplest way to demonstrate your fearless independence.

    1. Jay_Ramey Avatar

      Good point actually, a driver rubber-bumper MGB is a lot more widely accepted/understood than a driver Alliance convertible.
      I have to confess I'd still go for something British in the cabrio-under-$7K category. Yes, right along with the herd.

      1. Vairship Avatar

        But with an MG B you'll be just another car at the car show. With a Renault Alliance convertible everybody will be saying: "What the…."

        1. Jay_Ramey Avatar

          Which is why I make the 200+ mile trek to Carlisle Import Nationals every year : ) Last year the Renault club had a whole indoor pavilion devoted to the goodness of the AMC-era Renaults, a very comprehensive collection of exhibits actually.

  6. Joe Avatar

    That's the ugliest E30 convertible I've ever seen.

    1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

      Pretty sure that's a converted Sentra, dude.

  7. Geoffrey Avatar

    Ahh, nice to see one on the road, i always thought they where good little cars. I worked at an AMC dealership in the mid eighties, and found them to be easy to work on and fairly reliable when properly serviced.
    Not to say they didn't have there faults, that was mostly due to the poor assembly work done in Kenosha. They just didn't care about them.
    Here it is 30 years later, and there are still a few of them around. Sad to see negative comments about them, as they actually beat out their competition in just about every catagory. mind you, the competition was Chevette, Escort, Vw Wabbitt, Etc.

  8. Sandy Avatar

    That's MY car in the picture. I'm the third owner and absolutely LOVE the car!

  9. Sandy Avatar

    BTW. It has never left me stranded or in dire straits the way SOME British (or other European) cars do to their owners. Yes, I only drive it 5,000 miles or less a year and garage it. I don't hesitate to take it for 300 – 500 mile/day romps. The GTA was faster, stopped quicker and had better skid pad performance than its competitors, which included the vaunted Rabbit/Golf hot hatch.