Monday, August 17, 2009

1987 Renault GTA - A Really Fun Car That No One Really Cares About...

This is a case of a truly fun car that was let down by the reputation of the car it was based on.

I like Renaults. I've owned plenty of them. But even I can't defend the Alliance. It was a grossly underpowered car that was built with incredibly cheap materials. Oddest of all, being of French design, the body was anonymous. It wasn't good looking, it wasn't ugly. It looked like an appliance, which is what it was; the Renault Appliance.

The GTA, while sharing a lot with the Alliance, was not boring. While the stock 1.4 liter Alliance took over 14 seconds to reach 60 MPH, the GTA, with a 2.0 liter engine in it, took just 9 seconds.

This car could handle, too. The GTA came with 195/50 VR 15 Michelin XGT tires on 15x6 alloy wheels (15" 50 series tires were not all that common in 1987). The suspension included gas struts & shocks and a thick front and rear sway bar. According to Car & Driver figures, the 1987 GTA pulled the same skidpad numbers as a 1987 Corvette.

The GTA could run with the best of the hot hatches of the day. The major complaints about the car were its stiff suspension and rubbery shifter (a common Renault complaint).

The interior was where the Renault really shined. The sports seats are comfortable and supportive. The steering wheel is taken from the R5 Turbo and looks great. The instrument cluster could use a few more gauges, but it's clear and well laid out. The rest of the dashboard is also well laid out but suffers from the use of cheap plastic.

Renault added a rear spoiler and and a tasteful body kit to the car. The GTA looks less anonymous than the Alliance, but it still wasn't a great looking car. The GTA was also available as a convertible. It's better looking than the coupe (if you squint it almost looks like a BMW E30 convertible), but the chassis is not quite as stiff.

GTAs don't sell for much. The Renault name killed it in this country. The car on eBay needs some minor work, but all-in-all is in good shape. Click here to see the listing.


Max Power said...

If I remember correctly, the GTA is also a one year only car since after Chrysler took over AMC, they killed all of the versions of the Alliance.

Just A Car Geek said...

I think it was made in 1986 and 1987, but according to one website I found it was called the Alliance GTA in 86 and just the GTA in 87.


Anonymous said...

Max power is a j/k i know him from Canada. I too had a GTA Alliance. We were hot rodn' and modn' these euro rockets before it was a trend. Way before fast and furious, and the rice rockets of today. Back then it was Mustangs and Camero IROCZ. But they were light nimbel and quick! Loved that lil car.

Anonymous said...

I also owned a black 1987 GTA that was pretty much identical to the one shown. I added tinted windows (as dark as the law allowed), and a leather bra (for the car, dummy). Always got lots of positive comments.

The handling was amazing. I remember a few trips where I actually felt sore from the sport seats grabbing after some serious cornering. It was a great car, and really fun to drive.