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Thread: 1972–1985 Renault Le Car

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Jul 2006
    The Land of The Edentulites

    1972–1985 Renault Le Car

    This car is rolling proof of the adage: “Nothing bad will happen to the person who owns a French car . . . because it already has.”

    The Le Car—also known as the Renault 5 in Europe—was a sad little box with over-small tires and a rear-end that begged to be kicked. Although it was conceived as a car that would “one-up” other small cars of the period such as the British Mini Cooper and even the Fiat 127, the Le Car as produced could have attended the same low-self-esteem support group as the Yugo.

    It was launched in 1972 with the slogan, “Hello, I’m the Renault 5, in town and on the road. . . . They also call me Supercar”—an audacious claim given the micro-displacement 850-cc, 36-horsepower engine that powered the original. It had roughly half the horsepower of a Chevette or Pinto.

    You’d need plenty of time to get your croissants in this one.

    Later models were supplied with a noxious 1.6-liter diesel that smelled worse than the car looked. A later high-performance turbo model complete with bulging pontoon fenders at least made up for the ridiculous appearance by making tracks when you floored it. This version was actually quite successful on the track.

    The Le Car sold through 1985 in the United States—1995 in Europe—and actually sold fairly well. Some three million were built, all told. Luckily, only a few remain roadworthy—and they’re easy enough to catch and smash, if you come across a survivor.

    As for parent company Renault, the French automaker formally abandoned the U.S. market in 1987 after selling the carcass of former partner in crime American Motors Corp. to Chrysler for $2 billion. However, Renault still has a bunion-covered toe in the North American market. Though few outside the car industry know it, Renault is partnered with highly successful Japanese automaker Nissan and may one day attempt to sneak some of its own cars back into the U.S. under the Nissan nameplate.

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    Last edited by Eric; 08-22-2009 at 07:48 AM.

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