Today’s Bad Idea: 1990 Renault Alpine GTA V6 Turbo

As I’ve lamented before, French automakers have never really found much success in the United States. Lackluster dealer networks, questionable corporate acquisitions, and ultimately the assassination of Renault’s CEO Georges Besse (!) kept some truly interesting vehicles out of the hands of American consumers; this Renault Alpine GTA is one such example. The awful timing of Renault’s American operations collapsing just as these went to production leaves one wondering if the Alpine GTA could have been the product that turned it all around. While we will never know, now it’s at least possible to get a taste of what we missed out on. In this case, anyone with $9500 burning a hole in their pocket can grab this scruffy Alpine GTA on Craigslist in Seattle and finally experience the joy of a rear-engined, turbocharged V6 French sport coupe leaving them stranded on the side of the road.

00l0l_aegkfejtizm_1200x900

Continue reading

The one that got away: 1985 BMW 528i (Euro-market)

As evidenced by the sheer number of vehicles I’ve bought and sold, I’m not very sentimental when it comes to letting them go. Typically, if I’m being offered a reasonable sum of money in excess of my investment, I’m happy to see it go. There are a few exceptions, though; none more significant than my 1985 BMW 528i, which was a rare Euro-market import with the tidier non-US bumpers and high compression engine.

4610_1073060199133_1605000098_30232

Continue reading

Project Renault update: It runs!

A few days after dragging the Renault home, I ordered all of the parts for a timing belt refresh from a Renault guru who rebuilds the tensioners himself, and went nuts on spares from RockAuto. Since RockAuto was having a closeout on Renault parts, I stocked up on everything I could; I snagged a $5 water pump and some $25 struts among other dirt-cheap parts. eBay provided a Haynes service manual for 75 cents, while I also ordered a period factory service manual for $30. When the weekend hit and I had everything in hand, I started tearing into the car.

IMG_2429-0

Continue reading

CCG Project: 1987 Renault GTA convertible

For those of you who haven’t read my earlier post on the Renault Encore I had many years ago, I’ve always had a soft spot for the products conceived by the unholy alliance (pun not intended) of AMC and Renault. The one I always wanted, though, was the one-year-only GTA; Renault’s brief attempt at a competitor to the VW GTI, exclusive to the U.S. Since they were only sold for one year before Renault washed their hands of the American market, they’re pretty uncommon, and I never thought I’d actually find one…until I did.

11098637_352711678258410_1235858535_n

Continue reading

Today’s Bad Idea: 1989 Chrysler TC by Maserati

Chrysler was kind of a weird company in the mid-late 1980’s. Riding high on the success of their K-car platform, CEO Lee Iacocca was on fire. Chrysler was flush with cash and growing aggressively, buying up struggling rival AMC for the profitable Jeep brand, and even acquiring Lamborghini for a short period in 1987. His winning streak had to end somewhere, though. While at Ford, Iacocca had made friends with a guy by the name of Alejandro de Tomaso, and the two subsequently collaborated to create the exotic De Tomaso Pantera sports car. Iacocca figured it might be worth trying something similar at Chrysler; he leaned on his old buddy, who owned Maserati at the time, and the two companies decided to collaborate on a new flagship sports car for Chrysler. Deadlines were blown, somehow the K-car platform got involved, and the final product – ridiculously called the “Chrysler TC by Maserati” – was little more than a dressed-up Chrysler LeBaron for twice the price. If that seems to scratch your itch, for some reason, you might be interested in this 1989 example for a not-quite-reasonable $5500.

Continue reading