You can probably count the number of small, FWD, 5-speed, 7-passenger station wagon models sold in the U.S. on one hand. Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Renault Medallion will even get you started. That’s as long as its price isn’t its finish.
After an alarming streak this week of interesting, but ultimately unfavorably priced candidates, we finally had a winner with yesterday’s 1988 Dodge Colt wagon. It too was quirky as hell, but at just $700, few could say no to those quirks.
In the end, that funky little wagon hauled home a respectable 70 percent Nice Price win for its troubles. You know what? That Colt’s main attributes—1988 model, cheap price, wagon body, super rare and decent condition—worked out so well, I think we’ll try them on another, even odder model.
One could excuse the Renault 21 from suffering from a crisis of identity. It was after all a car that offered two very different drivetrain layouts in its mainstream models. Add to that confusion a name change to Medallion for the U.S. market, where, during its incredibly short 3-year model run, it was sold under two separate corporate parents and two different brands.
It’s a shame the Medallion faced such struggles here in the U.S. because it was a damn good car—winning numerous accolades and enjoying a 9-year model run outside the States. Here however, the car was tainted by its relationship to the Renault Alliance/Encore twins, the un-dropped testicles of the automotive world. Adding insult to egregious injury, the Medallion was also introduced to the U.S. market right at the point when Renault was bailing from it.
The French company was in the process of selling off to Chrysler its stake in the failing AMC concern at the time. Chrysler only wanted Jeep out of the deal, but Renault demanded that AMC’s new owners buy a number of vehicles and parts or they weren’t going to get the venerated off road brand. That resulted in the Medallion being rebranded as an Eagle for—literally—just a few months.
This 1988 Renault Medallion was sold before all that shit went down, and looks to still be relatively drama free today. The 21 upon which the Medallion was based could be had with either a transversely mounted series of small four cylinders or larger four pots that sat longitudinally like in an Audi. The reasoning behind such an odd combination of drivetrain layouts is chalked up to Renault lacking a sufficiently strong gearbox to handle the bigger engines sideways.
Whatever the reason, all American market Medallions got the bigger 2.2-litre which pumped out a little over 100 horsepower. Here that’s backed up by a rare standard equipment 5-speed. The car comes with a phenomenal 192K on the clock and the declaration that it’s good for ‘many more thousands.’
The seller claims the car has been maintained ‘by the book’ and based on the Medallion sedan and Fuego coupe pictured in his driveway, I’d say he probably knows that book inside and out.
Nicely, that sedan is included with the wagon as its parts repository, sort of like the doomed characters in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. Even more spare parts come with the car, so it’s a good thing it’s a wagon.
The body seems to be in very good shape with no apparent sign of road rot and with all the trim seemingly intact. It does have that funky old patina where the clear coat is going bye bye, but that’s more a badge of honor on a car like this.
The interior is in fabulous shape and is filled with Gallic charm. The car rocks a forward-facing third row, great for the kiddies and your French Poodles. Up front, it shares its pedestal seats with the Alliance and early Jeep Cherokee. These cars tended to ride like a dinghy on a lake too so expect to comfortable.
I have always had a fondness for the Medallion. In fact, years ago I wrote an ode my experience visiting a Renault dealer with my mom, who at the time was looking for a new car. Yes, it was a bit of a stream of consciousness, and I had a typo in Kenworth but cut me some slack, okay?
We’ll needn’t cut the seller of this Medallion any slack as he’s got a pretty compelling proposition on the table. A running, wildly funky French wagon with a stick and more seats than you could possibly fill is pretty much something we could all get behind, even if the Bernie sticker on the back may not be. Along with that compelling car comes the promise of spares and the extra sedan to boot. All that for $1,500.
What do you think, is this Medallion package worth that asking? Or, is that just asking for trouble?
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