Today’s Nice Price or No Dice Encore is so rare a sight that it’s likely many of you have never actually seen one in the metal. Let’s see if that makes its price worth this unexpected performance.
When you really stop and think about it, there are a lot of things that can go wrong with a car. Those foibles can include everything from the mechanical bits to the aesthetics and even the structural elements — pretty much every aspect of a car.
These issues affect some cars more than others, and when it came to last Friday’s 2007 BMW 328xi Touring, they all converged in what might have been considered a perfect storm of bad omens. The major issues were a rusty hatch — a common problem on these models — and the simple fact that any BMW over a decade old runs the risk of expensive repairs and maintenance. You all took that into account in weighing the seller’s $9,900 asking and found the appeal lacking. That ended up in a 65 percent No Dice loss.
Of course, reliability alone does not guarantee a car’s success. You see that with a number of models. What’s really bad is when market pressures hit an unsuspecting carmaker right where it hurts, which is exactly what doomed Renault here in the U.S.
It was in 1987 that the French maker finally gave up on the U.S. market entirely. This was not for want of trying and came after more than three decades of sales here as well as the attempt to become even more Americanized with the purchase of the Kenosha, Wisconsin-based American Motors.
That short-lived Renault/AMC marriage produced a small number of offspring, many of which suffered under tragically obvious names. The first was the Alliance, which… yeah, allied the French and U.S. automakers in car form. The follow up to that car was the Encore because, well, it followed the first model being little more than an Alliance with a hatch.
Based on the European Renault 9, the American-built Alliance initially sold fairly well. The Renault 11-based Encore, on the other hand, entered an already sagging small-car market and faced stiff competition from both domestic and Japanese models. AMC and Renault’s combined dealer base was also woefully inadequate to support substantial sales numbers, driving another nail in the Encore’s coffee can.
Those market conditions meant the Encore really never had a chance. Renault’s sale of AMC to the Chrysler Corporation just four years later doomed both small cars completely. That’s right, with just the one model run, the Encore never got to enjoy its own encore.
That all makes this 1985 Renault Encore quite the unicorn today. Even in my hometown of car-crazy LA, I don’t think I’ve seen one in over a decade — and that was at a French car show!
This one is not just a rare survivor somehow saved from the scrapheap, it also looks to be a pretty darn nice bit of ’80s kit. The red-and-black color theme is sporty and features some still sharp-looking paint and decals. It’s not all rosy here, though. The ad does disclose a few warts among the beauty marks.
Most notable of those is a sizable crunch on one corner of the back bumper that really should be fixed. You’d probably need to use body filler and then repaint the bumper, as finding a replacement cover will be nigh-on impossible. There’s also some fading and dry cracking of some of the black window trim as well as substantial age wear to the window sill rubbers.
The interior appears to be a happier place. The red and black vinyl is seemingly in fine shape, as is the handsome sport steering wheel and shifter for the five-speed stick. A period-correct head unit offers the entertainment factor here, although if you need niceties such as electric windows or air-conditioning, you should probably look elsewhere.
Power comes from a 56 horsepower SOHC 1.4 liter inline-four. That may not sound like much — and it isn’t — but understand that this car only weighs a tad over a ton. Zero-to-60 times will still be in the teens, and the car tops out at a mere 90 mph. But hey, at least you won’t have to worry too much about getting speeding tickets in this car.
The seller claims this to be an uber-rare Spring edition. Added to that are the larger alloy wheels and stiffer suspension of the Alliance GTA. Other work done on the 65,000-mile car includes replacement of the clutch, struts and water pump, all completed in the last three years. The gas tank has been rust-proofed, and the fuel pump has also replaced. An aftermarket exhaust means the car isn’t totally mechanically stock, if such things matter to you. Finally, the title is clean and a search with the VIN shows no obvious shenanigans in the car’s past.
Is this the car for impressing those easily impressed by displays of speed and handling prowess? Um, no. This is the car for someone wanting something wonderfully weird and who has a penchant for both American and French automotive history. It is also probably the nicest Renault Encore in the world, which means something to someone. What you need to decide is whether those factors are enough to command $3,500 from an appreciative buyer.
What do you say, is this Encore ready to take a bow at that $3,500 asking? Or, will that price be this Renault’s swan song?
H/T to HeyKPOB for the hookup!
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