AMC/Chrysler has had many a relationship with foreign automakers – Alfa Romeo, Hillman, Talbot/Peugeot, Renault, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, and Fiat. Renault could be considered one of the manufacturers who ultimately didn’t benefit from the relationship, so here’s the last car they imported to the United States before the ill-fated, Motor-Trend-Car-of-the-Year-winning Alliance/Encore – the Renault LeCar. Covered on these pages in the past as a revolutionary super-mini, and significant for Renault, and in Europe, it didn’t fare quite as well as some of the imported competition, including the VW Rabbit and all those “putains Japonais” who ate the French manufacturers’ baguette sandwiches while they weren’t looking. French failure in the American automotive market notwithstanding, there are still some great examples of the great Renault 5 – check out this 1983 Renault LeCar, with bidding currently at $1647 and four days left to go in Roanoke, VA.
This attractive shade of blue-gray metallic works well on this car, doing a good job of minimizing the hideous impact bumpers, and showing off the sweet 1980s LeCar graphics. Body is straight, paint is shiny, and the car is a 4 (or 5!) door with a sliding ragtop, meaning you can share that wind-in-the-hair feeling with three other lucky friends. The only noticeable issue is the wheels – this car likely had hubcaps from the factory, and since those will probably be rare as unicorn droppings, you might look for some sweet home-market alloys.
The interior looks to be in very good shape, and almost manages to look contemporary, with the gray padded surfaces and black panels. The new upholstery is also in very good shape, though it’s not clear if it’s original pattern. The car is said to have had a light restoration in 2006, including a rebuilt carburetor, new engine mounts, new fuel pump, new front and rear brakes, and new left hub bearings. Amazingly, it’s said to have functional air conditioning, and the heater works too, though the blower is broken. The ragtop has also been replaced.
Defects include a failed speedometer drive gear on the transmission, and a title branded “not actual”. That said, these are fairly thin on the ground, and if you want a four-door and a ragtop, you’re best off at least giving this one some thought. Unfortunately, there are no pictures of the engine compartment, but even if there were, they’d be 80% spare tire since it sits over the engine. So if you’re looking for an early 1980s compact, and can’t be bothered dealing with more than 3 lug nuts per wheel, here’s your choice!