Saturday, July 18, 2009
France's Renault R5 or Le Car in the USA: The Extraordinary Car at Under $5000 when NEW. (This one ain't new!)
From 1976 until 1986, over 5.5 million Renault Le Cars were built for the world's small-car hungry consumer. Introduced in 1972, and to the North American market in 1976, the Le Car was the French automaker's first "supermini" model. It was sold in the US by American Motors dealers (remember American Motors? The Rambler?) The extra tiny for American highways Le Car was given its name by an advertising agency that thought it would help sell Europe's best selling car. Known in Europe as the Renault 5 or R5, the French thought the name Le Car was ridiculous because in French it meant "the coach." Oh, great name for a tiny, fuel-sipping small car with a pretty good design. It's 4-cylinder engine worked hard to pump out 55 horsepower. Wow, a rocket ship. That might have had something to do with the Le Car's dismal sales. Plus, just about every car then coming out of Detroit had tons more power, weighed four times more and would totally demolish a Le Car in the slightest fender-bender. This particular used cream puff of a used car may actually be a Super5, the second generation that was offered between 1985 and 1996, but more probably it's a 1983 model or earlier. In any case, it's what used car dealer's call the "point car." It sits at the front most corner of the property, very visible to prospective buyers. It is supposed to attract attention and be a big draw onto the sales lot. From the looks of this car, the dealer hasn't seen much business for years, decades. Ever. It sits all alone on the roof of the oddly-painted block building. No window glass. A good bit of rust showing. Do you think it'll start? Will pigs fly? Oh, go ahead. Make 'em an offer. They'll take your offer to the manager. He wants to work with you. Really he does.