Founded nearly 300 years ago by the French, New Orleans remains to this day below sea level. Now, Nice Price or Crack Pipe has a Big Easy Renault, and wonders if you'd pay more than a French Quarter for it.
Throwing the Royal Ride 300 at you yesterday was tantamount to catapulting Tiger Woods into an Oprah audience – it wasn't pretty - and neither was the car. Of course that didn't stop 11% of you from doing the nice price dance, much to the disbelief and consternation of all the others. To make up for that ode to wretched excess, today we're taking a trip to Bourbon Street, so get out your beads and your boobs.
When New Orleans was hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it was one of the worst disasters ever to affect an American city. Years before that, the sales of French cars in the States was almost as disasterous. And while the great city of New Orleans is slowly making its way back (props to the Saints for that gnarly Super Bowl® win!), the French auto industry never recovered from American disinterest in cars that rode like on a warm cushion of brie, and ran on something called essence.
By the time today's 1985 Renault Super Cinq was rolling off the assembly line in Billancourt France the only Renaults sold here were the Alliance/Encore turds and the Medallion, about which the less said the better. The Super Cinq was much more advanced than the first generation 5 in every way, and unlike le earlier car - with its front mid-engine design and body made of inexplicably rust prone tissue paper - the second generation carried its engine side saddle and was dipped in anti-corrosive prior to painting, rather than the acidic spittle of petulant French unionists debating existentialism.
Marcello Gandini, venerated designer of much that is Italian, uncompromisingly fast, and characteristically uncomfortable, penned the Super Cinq. Unlike his other works, the Renault is none of those things. What it is, is unapologetically French, having so much suspension travel that it might require a passport. It's also extremely frugal- the 1,397-cc, 64-bhp 8-valve OHC engine being good for 50-mpg in the 1,645-lb car.
That engine - as well as the front suspension - is shared with the aforementioned Alliance, so parts shouldn't be as merde-invokingly difficult to obtain as you might think.
As Renaults are traditionally known in the U.S. for the temporary nature of their corporeal existence, it's somewhat amazing to note that this little bronze 5 has done over 100K, and seems little worse for wear. The seller says he's been driving it for a couple of months, and has put about 2K on it, so it's anybody's guess as to who, or where those miles got piled on.
Aside from the craptacular seat covers hiding worn out upholstery, some minor rust peeking its little turtle head out from under the hatch glass, and Donnie Darko glued onto the front of the hood, the car is in amazingly good shape. Yes, the speedo reads in KPH, which means you'll have to bone up on your math to keep from getting ticketed, and the fuel gauge is in that African language where they only use clicks, but the needle still goes in the direction you'd expect. And I know, it's a TL, not a GT Turbo, or even a GTE, but neither of those hot versions used an engine that was sold over here, and, at the seller's asking price, either of those would likely be in pretty sad shape. As it is, this Super Cinq looks like a fun and quirky runabout. And, unlike that Smart Roadster from Wednesday, this car already has its passport stamped- at least with antique plates.
The seller is asking $4,000 Buy-It-Now, and clicking that gets you not only a rare in the U.S. Renault 5, but also a trip to Bourbon Street thrown in to boot. Any excuse to go down to New Orleans and positively affect the economy is a noble deed indeed, and getting a car out of the deal (just wait until you've sobered up before heading home) is just sugar on your beignets.
So, what's your take on this Cinq from across the drink? For $4,000 would you visit the Crescent City? Or, for that price, are you going to let it slip bayou?