Our pals over at Car Design Archives found this remarkable sketch on eBay, and only just posted it today, making this likely the first time it’s been seen publicly. It’s a sketch of a proposed American-market truck, based on the Renault 12, and dating from 1979, the year Renault bought AMC. What would AMC and Jeep have been like if they embraced more Renault crossover designs?
I suppose in reality, AMC/Jeep certainly did embrace crossover Renault designs, as the legendary XJ Cherokee was designed, at least in part, by Renault.
Still, this sketch shows something that would have been even stranger. The sketch is from Chausson, who built light-utility and truck bodies for Renault, making them a natural to consider a Renault-based pickup truck.
The obvious appeals to the American market—the two-tone paint, the stepside/external fender truck bed, the big bull bar on the front—are especially fascinating.
Olivier over at Car Design Archives described the sketch to me:
A derived pickup truck with US specs was submitted by Chausson designer Hallan in Sep. 1979. It was certainly commissioned by Renault, after the AMC/Jeep takeover.
The link with AMC/Jeep is just an hypothesis because of 1979 (the year of the AMC buyout). And I easily imagined this model could have been quickly and temporary added in the Jeep range… Just presumption but funny isn’t?
Note in 1979, the Renault 12 was no more produced in France (replaced by the R18). Maybe Chausson submitted it in order to give some jobs to its own factory. But it maybe could be done for Dacia. I’m afraid we’ll never know the truth!
This would have been a front-wheel drive pickup truck, and could have given Jeep an entry in the then-booming small FWD pickup market, then dominated by little trucks from Toyota, Nissan (well, Datsun, then), Ford’s Courier, Chevy’s Isuzu-built Luv, and later Volkswagen’s U.S.-built Rabbit pickup truck.
It’s easy to imagine the Jeep name being a huge asset, and the economy of the Renault drivetrain would have been very competitive.
I’d hope they’d have put JEEP on the tailgate and not RENAULT, though. Nothing against Renault, but the Jeep name would have been the right marketing angle.
Since 1975, there were Renault 12-based pickup trucks, under the Dacia name and sold as Dacia 1302 pickup trucks. So the fundamental idea was actually already proven.
These were common workhorses in Romania, but didn’t come close to the style shown in that sketch up there.
Oh, if only! Would the revenue from a competitive compact pick-up have kept an independent (well, with Renault help) AMC alive? Could we could all be driving 2018 Hornets and Pacers now?
Probably not. But it’s fun to dream.