When you think Wisconsin, you think Renault, right? Okay, so it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that Wisconsin produced more French cars during the decade of the 1980s than any other place in the western hemisphere. You know, to feed the voracious appetite of the upper midwest for compact French machinery during the Reagan 80s. Admittedly, Kenosha: Home of the Renault Alliance doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as it once did, and neither do the Dukakis ’88 bumper stickers that I imagine are still securely affixed to many Alliances. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t good cars, even though some minor issues may have existed in the sales network.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that some Renault dealers weren’t down with the whole idea of being Renault dealers. An acquaintance who tagged along with his grandmother to test drive one of these fly machines in the 1980s remarked to me that the dealers who sold these weren’t especially enthused about having to sell them. “If you wanna buy one, buy one!” the salesman shrugged and went back to reading the paper. And that was the extent of that particular sales pitch. Persuaded on the spot by the salesman’s erudite demeanor and sophistication, Nana ended up leaving the lot in a swanky new Alliance convertible, perfect for that looong Wisconsin summer, the summer that Wisconsin is famous for all over the US of A.
Actually, the summers of the upper midwest, Wisconsin in particular, can be
quite warm stupefyingly hot and humid, so a convertible is not as mostly futile a purchase as it seems. And since a large number of managed to sell in the midwest despite the best efforts of the dealer network, it is still the region where most of them are likely to be found. A thoroughly unbelievable 623,000+ Alliances were built in Kenosha from 1982 till 1987, and southern Wisconsin is still the place to look for one. If you’re into that sort of thing.
I know what most of you are thinking right now: so what happened to the grandmother’s car? Unfortunately, history did not record what became of Nana’s Alliance convertible, though half-reliable sources suggest that it may have been traded in for literally hundreds of dollars in dealership credit towards the purchase of a Chrysler something or other, after accumulating a whopping 27K miles and some moderate battle damage over the span of a decade.
All kidding aside, the GTA seen here was in ridiculously good shape for its age. I don’t think anyone will dispute that these cars, especially the Encore hatches and Alliance sedans, were treated as disposable by many of their owners and expired long ago, so it’s not unusual to see a surviving Alliance that looks about as worn as a 10-year old Honda.
It has long been my suspicion that Alliance convertibles enjoy a slight plurality among all surviving Renault Alliances in the states. They were the top of the range model, and didn’t tend to be purchased to be beaten into oblivion and discarded after 3 years of commuting. They also tended to be bought by people who bought them because they actually wanted one, rather than buying one because it was slightly cheaper than a VW Fox at the dealer across the street. So seeing this well-kept GTA was a special treat.
[Images: Copyright 2013 Hooniverse/Jay Ramey]