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V.I.S.I.T. – Renault Alliance GTA

Jay Ramey January 31, 2013 V.I.S.I.T. - Vehicles I Saw In Traffic 28 Comments

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Now here’s a car you just don’t see anymore (unless you live in southern Wisconsin) as it comes from an oft forgotten chapter of our nation’s automotive history. Specifically, it’s the chapter where AMC needed a bailout from a French automaker, and as part of that alliance got to build an American version of the Renault 9 at the old Nash factory. This is the chapter that comes immediately after the one about Carter-era galleons that had a bigger footprint than a Ford Excursion, and right before the chapter about late Reagan-era galleons that had a bigger footprint than a Ford Excursion. Next was chapter 11, and that was a chapter about bankruptcy.

This example appeared to be in great condition for its age and rarity. Admittedly, it’s hard to find a well-used or beater example of an Alliance or any of its brethren, as many of them are either in an new or driver condition, or have permanently relocated to a junkyard. Over 623,000 Alliances were built at AMC’s plant in Kenosha between 1982 and 1987, which is a stupendous number any way you look at it. The annual production numbers easily eclipsed the total annual import numbers of several other European makes combined, including those of Peugeot.

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It’s hard to say which one of the Alliance variants is the most “plentiful” now, but I honestly think the convertibles may enjoy a plurality because they tended to not be used year round, and because people tended to not treat them like disposable transportation. Which is, incidentally, why the Encore hatch and Alliance sedan are amazingly hard to find, as I’ve only seen one of each.

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It really does appear that GTA models account for a lion’s share of surviving Alliances, despite the fact that it was available only in 1987, and only in coupe and convertible form. That probably shouldn’t come as a surprise, as these were the top of the line cars, and naturally were bought by customers who had a greater interest in keeping these cars running past their “use by” date than the average econobox purchaser at the time.

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Given the high production numbers, I would imagine that these will continue to be found in garages throughout the northern midwest (mostly Wisconsin really) for many more years to come. After all, they made over half a million of these in just six years, which is sort of hard to wrap your mind around now due to the speed with which they disappeared. I don’t think anyone will dispute that AMC was going for quantity over quality with these, but this car did manage to give AMC a few more years of life.

When was the last time you saw any AMC-built Renault?

  • Vavon

    Most know that the Alliance and Encore were based on the Renault 9 and the Renault 11.
    However the Alliance 2-door coupe and 2-door convertible were never available in Europe.
    Those two were purely for the North-American market. But we got something much better…
    We got limited editions with American names, like the R11 Broadway or the R9 Louisiana!

    <img src="http://www.autominded.net/brochure/renault/1986 Renault 911 Broadway 01.jpg" width="510/">

    • TurboBrick

      Renault Louisiana edition, lack of AC and leaky windshield ga-rantees a stiflingly hot & humid cabin, the radio only plays zydeco music and the suspension is already shot to simulate the thunk-thunk-thunk effect of the lousy road surface on I-10?

    • Jay_Ramey

      Cause when I think Louisiana, I think Renault!

    • Yeah, and the 21 wagon was called the Nevada.

      • Vavon

        You can get a lot worse… There was a wagon version of the Nissan Sunny (1985-1990)…
        In Europe It was called the Nissan Sunny Florida or the Nissan Sunny California!
        Even as a kid I thought that was a ridiculous name for a car that wasn't even a cabriolet!

        <img src="http://www.autowp.ru/pictures/nissan/sunny/autowp.ru_nissan_sunny_california_eu-spec_5.jpg&quot; width= 600>

        • racer139

          I believe that was avaliable up here in Canada. In sentra form.

        • TheOtherMacLeod

          There was one of these that parked near my apartment in downtown Annapolis. I lusted after it the entire time I lived there, such a well-sorted (looking) little car. Having never driven one, I have no idea if my lust was deserved or not.

  • OA5599

    I knew someone who bought one of these when she graduated college. It was her first brand new car. Previously, she had a series of sub-$2000 beaters. She was quite proud of her accomplishments in stepping up to a shiny new vehicle.

    Her car turned into a sub-$2000 beater faster than any other car I've ever ridden in.

  • last year in a junkyard in Indiana….it was a black ragtop

  • Q: When was the last time you saw any AMC-built Renault?
    A: 2006, when I moved out of southern Wisconsin.

    • Stephen Hyde


  • JayP2112

    GTA convertible last year in DFW in traffic.

  • Le Dominic

    My father clocked up nearly 200.000 km in a Spanish built Renault 11 Broadway. Dead easy to break into, several times thieves broke into it with a screwdriver. Apart from that, quite a reliable car.

  • krazykarguy

    As I posted on the XM brochure posting, there's a guy up the road from me with a French car obsession.

    He has TWO GTA Convertibles, a red one and a white one. I see them relatively often.

  • Mike

    I saw one last year, it was an Alliance Convertible, and ahem…well yes I do live in South Eastern Wisconsin…and I about had a heart attack when I saw it on a country road north of Milwaukee.

  • wisc47

    Yes I live in southern Wisconsin and I have seen a Renault Alliance before, good luck trying to find them on sale though (in good shape anyways). Still, probably plenty of parts opportunities in the junkyards here.

  • smokyburnout

    I saw a red GTA pull into the shop I worked at in 2010. It needed front suspension work. Weird setup.

    • Jay_Ramey


      • smokyburnout

        This was in central CT, though the shop was close enough to 84 that I can imagine a scenario where the owner felt something weird and pulled off to get it checked out.

        • Jay_Ramey

          Heh, at least I got the state right. Reason I guessed Branford is because I saw a red GTA convertible in late 2011 at an independent shop there, right off of 95.

          After all, how many red GTA convertibles can there possibly be on the roads?

  • It's like seeing Donatella Versace on the street: You're simultaneously impressed that she's kept her body in such good shape for so long, but she looked a bit freakish even when she was young, and her skin has gotten way too wrinkly in the intervening years.

  • MattC

    I think I have relayed this story before here on this site. My next door neighbor's Mom had a Renault Alliance that completely beat the odds and survived for at lest 10 years. I think the rare combination of early eighties French build quality and American manufacturing indifference plus my next door neighbor Mom's aversion to any type of preventative maintenance created a bizarro world concoction of reliable transportation with no input from any source.

  • Rover1

    Is the only good thing that came out of the whole Renault/AMC thing that Chrysler got Francois Castaing as Head of Engineering?

  • Ur Zephyr

    Renaults were not built in the Nash/AMC plant,but at the Lakefront plant which was I think the old Simmons Factory

  • wunno sev

    i'm from chicago. i dunno if that counts as upper midwest, but i don't think i've seen one alliance in my twenty-three years.

  • Rick W.

    I put 192,000 on a GTA that I bought new in 1986 and now have a convertible version that has 155,000 on it. The cars were indestructible if you did even modest maintenance, the problem was that most people that owned them did not do this. My only gripe with age is that the electrics don't age well.

  • Bob Fink

    I drive a 1984 Renault Alliance to work every day. It is my third one. The first I put 225000 miles on when I crashed it on I43 in Milwaukee. My second had 135000 on when I bought it, and I put another 60000 on it when the starter went out. I used it for parts on the one I drive now, which had a broken speedometer on it, which is now working and I have put 25000 miles onto it since. I also have a 1987 GTA, which is my project car, but I never seem to get around to restoring it. One more thing, I live in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

  • John V.

    I am glad to see that my car took such good pictures in downtown Carlisle.
    It actually has 230000 miles on it and it still gets driven daily.