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Car and Driver: Bastille Day Special: TWO Renault Alliances, Plus Parts on eBay


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1983 Renault Alliance Motor Trend Car of the Year Edition

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Which particular French automobile currently for sale in the U.S. might we choose to celebrate Bastille Day? The debate raged internally. Or it at least mildly seethed, in the manner of an impatient maître d’. The much-loved Citroën DS was bandied about and discarded as too obvious. Same for the 2CV and the Renault 4 and 5. The glorious and bizarre Citroën SM commands far too much money these days to be emblematic of anything more than wealth. Then it dawned on us. Given the debate that the Statue of Liberty may, in fact, be transgender, the worry across Europe in the wake of Brexit, and the general anxiety and strife that’s gripped the Continent over the past couple of years, why not return to a simpler time, one where the French stepped in to rescue struggling American Motors? The sporty, fragile Renault Fuego of the 1980s tempted us, but ultimately, we found ourselves looking for unity in these uncertain, fractious days. We needed an Alliance.

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1983 Renault Alliance Motor Trend Car of the Year Edition

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In the spirit of the season, we found two for the price of one on eBay. The runner of the pair is an exceptionally rare 1983 Motor Trend Car of the Year Edition, serial number 2699 of 3000. Now, lest you scoff at our rivals out in El Segundo, it must be noted that we added the Alliance to our 10Best Cars roster for 1983. And let’s face it, the Alliance has a pedigree. Its exterior was penned by no less a giant than Robert Opron, who’d designed legitimate French motoring classics like the SM and the CX, the Alpine A310, and, er, the Fuego. The interior’s look came courtesy of American designer Dick Teague, who’d penned the astonishing Packard Predictor concept, the stalwart XJ Jeep Cherokee, and the tough, sharp AMC AMX. Also, the Gremlin and Pacer. We suspect Teague also had something to do with the reduced-French, full-height rear fender arches. Regardless of who did what, the result was the most notable Franco-American collaboration since 1965’s SpaghettiOs.

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1983 Renault Alliance Motor Trend Car of the Year Edition

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Built in Wisconsin, the Alliance was fundamentally just a Renault 9 prepared to American taste. And, sure, it only had 60 horsepower, its paltry complement of horses squeezed from the same 1.4-liter engine that powered the diminutive Le Car, but in 1983, we said, “The Alliance represents a blending of compact dimensions, surprising creature comfort, excellent fuel economy, good looks, and very pleasing over-the-road behavior that ought to have the various Japanese importers talking to themselves.” In retrospect, apparently only Nissan was actually listening, though the Renault-Nissan Alliance wasn’t forged until 12 years after Renault departed our shores after 1987, having fobbed off its AMC assets on Chrysler. The Pentastar, after suggesting it’d keep the car in production, promptly changed its mind and marched the Alliance off to the guillotine. C’est la vie.

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Renault Alliance GTAContrary to Kilo G’s assertion (as retold by Eazy-E), it is not actually all about making that GTA. Rather, in the case of these Renaults, it is about disassembling that Alliance GTA to keep your MTCOTY Edition on the road. Thoughtfully, the seller’s throwing one in. In fact, he’s liquidating his entire stock of Alliance parts, including headlamps, ignition bits, and a rare Systems Sentry computer module! What’s more, the GTA featured a stonking 90-hp 2.0-liter engine, which came in quite useful in stoplight drags against 1.8-liter Oldsmobile Firenzas of the time. Can you say engine swap?

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Drop in the big motor and that Car of the Year sign, Walter. Strap a raft of baguettes to that saucy rear luggage rack, and make it belt “La Marseillaise” all the way back to Kenosha. Or better yet, to El Segundo. Tell ’em C/D sent you and that we’re sort of sorry, but hey, it’s not our name on the thing.

-S06l1zU4OZg

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