Second Place – 1979 Renault LeCar

Since I had a ride in a friend’s mom’s LeCar back in the eighties in Montreal, I’ve been fascinated by these cars. They squeeze in a significant amount of space for their footprint, and if they have a ragtop as hers did, they feel even more spacious. Heck, you could probably haul a bunch of lumber in there just by having it sticking out the roof. Funny enough, this car only got second place in the European Car of the Year awards. The Audi 80 won out, although the Renault 5 absolutely won out in sales and production lifespan – the Audi only ran from 1972-1978, while the Renault lasted until 1996 in Europe, went on to license production in various developing countries, and is still in production in Iran! Since we Americans are not allowed to import anything from Iran, we’ll have to settle for this bright yellow LeCar, listed for $2300 in Vallejo, CA as part of a combination “Ebay parts business” and car package.

1979 Renault LeCar front left

Pretty remarkable condition for an economy car that’s 34 years old. No apparent dents, rust, etc. The secret to keeping your economy car in shape for that long? Blow the head gasket when it’s 8 years old and park it with your mechanic for 27 years. And there is the secret to this car – if you can do an engine replacement on a LeCar (can you imagine a scenario where no coolant entered the combustion chambers?), and sell some parts (or take them to a dump), you can have the best LeCar in the country. Just go down to your local pick-n-pull and drab a good LeCar engine, how hard could it be?

1979 Renault LeCar right rear

Back looks good too. Still no visible dents or rust. Yellow really is a great color for small cars – you’re too small to get hailed by drunks after 2am in the city, and based on 1970s color theory, everyone will see you and therefore not hit you. I kind of have to agree – have you ever seen an accident with a yellow car in the mix?

1979 Renault LeCar interior

Even the interior looks good – you might expect seams to fail if you use it frequently enough, but that’s easier to repair than tears in the actual vinyl. I’ve always loved how older cars brought the exterior color inside – it helps reduce the amount of drab black.

1979 Renault LeCar ragtop

Here’s my favorite feature – a ragtop that totally opens up the interior. This is the closest shot of the paint too – judging by the top’s condition, the paint shouldn’t be too badly oxidized. So think of this as a restoration where the body and interior are already done – all you have to do is sort the engine, hydraulics, and fuel system. You can arguably say you’d be bringing back one of the most successful peoples’ cars, right up there with the Golf, Beetle, Fiat 500, Corolla, and Citroen 2CV.

More than anything, though, take this on and 55 wild French stallions will be under your control.


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3 Responses to “Second Place – 1979 Renault LeCar”

  1. Renzo Says:

    Back when these were New we called them a “Leaker”(LeCar)
    I Have to admit, they look cuter now than 3 decades ago..

  2. pickles Says:

    I tried to attain this car. I want it SO badly! The trick is that there are approximately zero mechanics that will work on them today. Further, in California, smogging these beautiful cars is next to impossible. It’s always interesting to me when cars which enjoyed great success (even in the US I think about 100,000 sold) become the most rare to find working.

  3. Toy Says:

    I used to have one in red . Love it love it but impossible to find mechanic to fix it.

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