In the movie She's All That, a glasses-wearing nerd girl is turned into a hottie on a bet. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Renault has had a similar transformation, but will its price mean it's not all that?
If your tastes lean more toward Freddy Prinze Jr. than NSU Prinz, you've probably seen She's All That. My condolences. However, like many ugly duckling stories, that movie's plot takes a short cut by starting off with a smokin' hot swan - in this case Rachel Leigh Cook - hidden under a thin veneer of glasses, bib overalls, and a questionable hair style. The job of turning a sow's ear into a silken purse was a lot harder for Renault back in the eighties, as they had much less to work with, and a lot farther to go. Their Alliance couldn't dance, was slow enough for remedial class, and was about as aggressive looking as the math club. In the end, that made the resultant Alliance GTA, as exemplified by this silver 1987 convertible edition, all the more remarkable.
Also remarkable - in that I am prepared to remark on it - was the result of the voting on yesterday's black orpheus 1988 BMW M5. Unsurprisingly, a combination of low mileage, classic looks and a killer rep overshadowed a high dealer price and and even higher potential for eating more of your checkbook, giving the hot E28 a cool 55% Nice Price win.
As we noted yesterday, that BMW once held the title of the fastest production sedan in the World. Today's candidate also set some records. The American Motors Corporation-built Alliance was closely based on Renault's 9 which held the accolades of being the 1982 European COTY, as well as Renault's best selling car. Ever. In the U.S., the Alliance gained not accolades, but acrimony, mostly due to its tissue paper-like durability and performance that could be measured on the same scale as early hominid evolution.
In an attempt to wrest the car's image from the edge of the abyss, AMC/Renault added the GTA to the model line for 1987, hoping to find the same kind of success Volkswagen had created when they turned the U.S. Rabbit into the GTI. Similar to the kinds of modification VW made to the Rabbit, the pocket rocket version of the Alliance gained a 2.0-litre 95-hp motor, lower profile tires on 15" multi-spoke Ronals, stronger engine mounts and a stiffer suspension.
AMC one-upped VW in the fresh air department however, offering the hot GTA package on the convertible version as well as the coupe. This 135,000 kilometer (83,000 mile) ragtop looks to be a nicely preserved example both inside and out, and the subtle body kit gives it an appearance that is strangely evocative of a BMW E30 convertible. That droppable top is one of the car's best features, and while the one on the car looks okay, the seller (who claims to be the GTA's second ‘woman' owner) is including a spare one, just in case. Another replacement is the silver paint, as the GTA only left the factory in one of three colors- black, red or white, while silver wasn't even an option on any of the convertibles. At least it's all shiny. The Alliance's relatively long 97.5" wheelbase makes for both a reasonably smooth ride as well as room for all four windows to drop down allowing for unfettered highway boob flashing, if that's your thing. Come to think of it, it'd also be good for flashing your thing on the highway, if you are a boob.
Under the big top, you'll find cloth and vinyl seats which are modestly bolstered, and appear nicely intact. The rest of the interior, aside from the sporty three spoke steering wheel, is pure Alliance, and for whatever that's worth at least it's all there. The GTA did come with a 5-speed manual standard, although contemporary testers considered its action comparable to operating a cotton candy machine, set on ‘Oprah.' Regardless, that sticky shifty helps keep the fuel injected four in its modest power band for a zero to sixty time of around 10 seconds, or four ticks faster than the smaller engined version. Fuel economy - on premium mind you - should run somewhere in the 20s, not bad but not great.
So let's look at the pros and cons here - this appears to be an exceptional example of what is the best - and probably only acceptable - version of what was a pretty bad car. The changes that AMC made in the creation of the GTA probably should have been what the basic car was to begin with, and its addition to the model line proved too little too late as new owner Chrysler took the Alliance behind the shed at the end of this car's model year. As it's an orphan model of TWO deceased parents (in the U.S. At least) parts for the GTA are going to be hard, but not impossible to find, however you would probably want to bone up on your French. All that being said, it's probably a pretty sweet and quirky ride, and the combination of near-GTI performance coupled with that boob-flashing roof make it a very unique proposition.
A related proposition is the price, which in this GTA's case is $2,900 Canadian, and that works out to around one point five million U.S. dollars. Actually, the exchange rate between the loonies and the even loonier U.S. currency is about one to one right now - take that hockey fans. What do you think, is that a price that would make this GTA COD? Or, is asking that just Grand Theft Auto, eh?
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