One of the most unique features of today’s Nice Price or No Dice Renault is its push-button automatic transmission. Let’s see if this classic French saloon’s price makes it an automatically good deal.
I Love a Mystery was a radio show that aired from 1939 to 1944, offering a welcome distraction for war-weary American audiences. The show’s popularity was due in no small part to the fact that pretty much everybody truly does love a mystery. We had a mystery on our hands last Friday in the form of a non-starting 2008 Volvo C30 T5 Turbo. The ad didn’t offer enough detail to do much sleuthing as to the cause of the car’s problem, but a $2,500 price tag and the seller’s statement that they “WANT IT GONE,” did generate some interest. That resulted in a cautious but decisive 60 percent Nice Price win for the victimized Volvo.
As a small auto manufacturer, Volvo has long sought partnerships to lower costs or simply keep the lights on and the assembly lines humming. France’s Renault is one such co-conspirator, having partnered with Volvo in the ’80s on engines and transmissions and again in the present day on electric delivery vans.
On its own, Renault has long enjoyed a position as one of France’s top domestic brands and has spread its influence outside the country through strategic partnerships with Nissan and Mitsubishi.
However, few people in the U.S. likely remember Renault. That’s because the marque rolled up the carpets and abandoned the American market in the ’80s after an unfortunate stint owning local bad boy Chrysler. That final straw followed decades of poor sales and the chipping away of Renault’s reputation here due to a lack of investment in a competent dealer network or even cars that suited the market.
As a case in point, this 1967 Renault 10 sedan is a model the company once advertised as “A Renault for people who swore they’d never buy another.” This was after the disastrous run of the Dauphine and Caravelle, two related models that were so unreliable and rust-prone that, together, decimated the company’s sales in America, going from 91,000 in 1959 to just 12,000 by 1966. Renault sent the 10 to the U.S. that year to right the ship and rekindle America’s love of Gallic cars. Sadly, it didn’t succeed at either.
The 10 is little more than the earlier 8 with a new, larger nose offering a roomier froot and a bigger booty behind the engine to make the proportions look right. This would be the last rear-engine Renault introduced until the advent of the rear/mid-engine Twingo III in 2014, a model co-developed with Smart.
Perhaps this 10’s most interesting feature is the presence of an automatic transmission ahead of its 48 horsepower 1108 cc “Sierra” inline-four. That’s a three-speed gearbox with an electromechanical control for throttle opening, closure, and the actual shifting. A ferromagnetic coupler replaces the clutch, and the whole thing is controlled via some very ’60-looking buttons on the dash. With the standard four-speed manual, the 10 wasn’t anything close to quick. With the more lugubrious automatic, freeway speeds demand significant planning band a strong tailwind.
That’s why it’s somewhat odd for the seller of this comfortably worn-appearing 10 to describe it as having been brought back to “daily driver status.” The work undertaken to make it so includes a rebuild of the braking, electrical, and fueling systems, new tires, and the replacement of the capacitors in the transmission control box.
According to the ad, the car has just 17,300 miles on the clock and is good around town. It looks its age, too. While rust-free, the bodywork sports a healthy patina over its dull-as-dishwater green paint. Most of the trim is intact, save for a rub strip on the left rear door and the engine cover latch. It rolls on its factory steel wheels, which are absent any badging or bling. Lazy tire changers will appreciate Renault’s parsimonious approach to wheel attachment, employing just three lugs.
The cabin is similarly worn but has some wonderfully crazy lettering for the speedometer numbers plus those great transmission buttons. A totally flat floor, front and rear, is another selling point. A clean title and current tags make this a classic car that’s ready for the show.
To show or just own this 10 requires the small matter of its $4,700 asking price. Do you think that’s a fair deal for a classic that can be driven on the daily? Or is that price too much to ask for this French kiss of a car?
H/T to whatsupdohc for the hookup!
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