Last post on Nov 22, 2007 at 6:21 PM
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Renault Le Car, Coupe
#15 of 55 For what it's worth...
Jan 07, 2003 (12:56 am)
To replace the starter on an R5, all you had to do is loosen the engine mount and jack up the engine (carefully). Despite the information provided by the host, the R5 has been hugely popular not just in France but everywhere. The first version sold 3.5 millions.
I would not say it didn't have some problems. The drum brakes wore out and were not replaceable; this lead to hand brake problems. Concerning the head gaskets blowing, if you replaced your coolant every two years, it was not an issue. They were hard to work on, but were much more complicated here than elsewhere, because it's hard to bring a small, carburated engine to smog compliance. The R1228 (75 to 79) had a 1300cc engine while the R1229 was beefed up with a 1400cc. That engine was used in the R5 TS, the really sporty version in Europe, but here, after the addition of the antipollution devices, it was barely adequate. I never paid $300 for a water pump, they were available at any part store. I agree with the fact it was hard to find a good mechanic. The dilemma was that you had a very cheap car, with mechanics that commended BMW prices. Many an R5 was sent prematurely to the junkyard because the ownerbalked at the price of new clutch. The later edition, BTW, had a bearing at the end of the camshaft which required a special puller to remove.
I sold our R5 3 months ago. The engine in it at 200000 miles and the car about 160000. It no longer was safe as a daily driver after being thrown against the sidewalk while parked. In addition, the machine shop botched the intake valve angles which had made idle problematic.
There is another thing that this discussion completely missed about the R5: they were fun cars. Not powerful, but fun.
Jan 07, 2003 (2:28 pm)
Maybe lots of people bought one, but not too many bought another one--at least not in the USA.
The French are very chauvinistic about their native cars, so I'm not surprised they would be popular in France.
Jan 08, 2003 (6:07 pm)
The R5 never sold huge numbers here, between 20 and 40,000 per year. It was part of a (mostly failed) strategy of reviving the brand that led the purchase of AMC.
Far from me to deny that most people who bought them had problems. However, in my mind, it was due more to circumstances beyond the car design itself. The fact that they were available at a low prices made it a great car to have if you knew how to maintain it. As recently as 2 1/2 years ago I drove our R5 from LA to Gallup and back.
Jan 08, 2003 (7:38 pm)
Well, hey, a clever person can keep any car running. I've owned plenty of verified "turkeys" and had good luck with them because I kept after them. I've driven MGBs cross country and used cars like a Peugeot 504 and Audi 100LS as everyday reliable drivers. Even a Triumph Herald if you can believe it.
I must say, though, that an R5 would keep even a very good mechanic very busy, much less a clueless owner who bought an R5 because it was "cute". Had the R5 looked like a sports car, it might have fallen into more capable hands, but as it was, most cars went to young women, most of whom were not very good do it yourselfers, to be further preyed upon by unscroupulous or talentless Frenchmen and Italians with 25 scrapped R5s in the back 40.
#19 of 55 R5 continued
Jan 08, 2003 (11:20 pm)
I got away for years with nothing but regular maintenance. A friend of mine got her in 1984 (a 1982), she sold it a couple of years ago. I doubt she could have found another car that would have given her less trouble, especially in proportion of the expenses incurred.
I am not saying that your comments about mechanics was unjustified, although a worse case scenario was your friendly corner gas station mechanic.
Jan 09, 2003 (10:03 am)
Every person I ever knew who had one had a disastrous experience with them, and I believe their experiences are probably more typical than yours or your friend's. The spectrum of ownership of every car has its extremes of positive and negative, which statistically we must disregard.
Fact is, the car is despised in America and I don't think people are just making these stories up, so I'll have to respect public opinion in this case as the rule rather than the exception since the Nays are so overwhelmingly ahead of the Yeas.
I don't always follow the herd regarding car opinions, by any means, but in this case I believe the R5 really was a pretty bad car for most owners and I'm going to continue to recommend that people stay away from them. (That's better for you, of course, because then you get your pick!)
Jan 10, 2003 (12:50 am)
I am not dissagreeing with your statement that the R5 really was a pretty bad car for most owners. What I am trying to tell you is that the car itself, which was a design breakthrough when introduced, was not necessarily to blame. There were flaws, which car does not have some, but it was also, for most of its career in the US, the cheapest car available.
As for owning one now, getting parts is near impossible thanks to Chrysler. If you read what I wrote, we "sold" ours a few months ago to a collector.
Jan 10, 2003 (8:54 am)
You'll pardon me, I'm sure, because you seem to be a very nice calm person, but the idea of
"collecting" R5s makes me want to smile. "Collecting" in the back yard seems more suitable.
However, all kidding aside, the R5 was fun to drive and an efficiently designed package. But under no circumstance should an automaker allow their customers to take on the role of the R&D department. If a Renault can't hold a head gasket in the US, and it seems like few of them could, then the car is surely at fault for this.
But I agree with you, things like parts distribution and lack of service facilities are not the car's fault, even though they contribute to the car's downfall and bad reputation.
#23 of 55 Which go's to prove...
Jan 10, 2003 (10:26 am)
Some people will collect anything!
Now, I firmly believe this!
Jan 10, 2003 (4:32 pm)
You are yet again postulating without knowing dear sir. I didn't write that the guy collected R5s, I just said he was a collector. He's interested in European daily drivers, not in sports cars.
You also have the tendency to be very US-centric, he you forgive the expression. The R5 was sold pretty much worldwide, including, nearby, in Mexico. When it was introduced in the US, in 1975, the car already had several production years below its bumpers. Renault sold it here because it was its best selling model. By then R&D had long been over.