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9/8/21 9:32 p.m.

So I recently picked up a 1986 Renault alliance(fwd, auto 1.7l) , with the intentions of using/building it as a unique daily driver with reasonable performance under the hood. its beem in minnesota since birth but was garaged throughout winter so pretty much zero rust.

 As of right now, everything seems to be stock. The head gasket is blown/warped a bit but still runs(misfires like no other). As for the suspension, its leaning more on the soft end of the spectrum. 

i came to this forum in search of someone who has some experience with these vehicles and would know what pieces i can pull from certain cars. i want to find an engine i could potentially swap into it, coilovers & shocks front/rear.

im all ears and open to hearing anything!  also im a beginner to the whole car world.

ddavidv UltimaDork
9/8/21 9:38 p.m.

You picked the wrong car, especially for a beginner.  We probably have a Renault fan or two on here but my decades of playing with cars would strongly recommend you dispose of that and get something popular.

Donebrokeit UltraDork
9/8/21 9:51 p.m.

Back in the day I started at a Jeep/AMC dealership in the service department,  these cars were very fragile and parts were hard to get even while under warranty. 

First thing is make sure the heater core has been replaced. This is not a recall you want to skip as the heater core will explode and dump coolant on your feet! People were injured. 

Second thing is these cars were non-OBD meaning finding someone with the correct diagnosis tools will be very hard by now.


Good luck!


Paul B

Interesting project! I dove into the archives and found this thread here...not sure if it helps or not, but we're all rooting for you!


Toyman01 + Sized and
Toyman01 + Sized and MegaDork
9/8/21 10:10 p.m.

Man I wanted one of those when I was in high school. Mostly because it was the cheapest new car on the market at the time. I still liked the way they looked. 

In your shoes I'd be tempted to go straight to drivetrain swapping it but that is the deep end of the pool and really isn't beginner territory. That would be a major undertaking and you would be hard pressed to find any model specific advice. Lots of hours with a tape measure and wandering a junk yard might lead you so an engine trans combo that would be close to fitting. It might pay to swap the entire subframe and front suspension while you are at it. 

Whatever you end up doing, do a build thread. We love watching interesting projects and offering suggestions and advice. 

Good luck.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/8/21 10:13 p.m.

I used to work with a guy, around 1996, who was a very, very good technician.


He drove an Alliance.


He had adapted GM electronics to the ignition system as well as a Delco alternator.


In 1996...

Jeff Shaffer
Jeff Shaffer New Reader
9/8/21 11:43 p.m.

I have a 1983 with the 1.4 but it is currently running a weber 2 barrel carb with an archer cam and archer header..

Suspension parts are hard to find. I am fortunate my car came with good Koni struts sold as part of the renault/alliance cup package from the factory.

No need for rear coil overs your car has a torsion bar set up.

Follow my car here


ShawnG UltimaDork
9/8/21 11:50 p.m.

Insure it.

Have a fire.

French cars are like the worst parts of Italian and German cars rolled into one.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
9/9/21 7:13 a.m.

In reply to ShawnG :

I'll bet this results in paying more in insurance premiums than the insurance company pays back on the fire claim.

What's the insurance worth of a misfiring 1986 Renault Alliance? 

Stampie GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/9/21 7:38 a.m.

Since the insurance company won't be able to find comps you could name your own price.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
9/9/21 7:45 a.m.

Out of curiosity, I looked up Alliance on Rock Auto and there was more available that I expected but...

Many things were closeout, one remaining like just left front caliper available and then just one.  No struts for any corner.  No clutch, etc.

914Driver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/9/21 8:46 a.m.

I bought one in 1986 because I needed a car TODAY and it was in my budget.  The only problem I had was a coworker bought one also and every time I see the guy he rants about all the issues he's having, mechanical and peeling paint.  It got so bad I avoided the guy because I just couldn't kill mine.

I can't help with engine swaps, but if you poke around here, there may be some answers.  Google around for other forums too. 

Good luck with the project and you know you have to post pictures, right?


John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
9/9/21 8:52 a.m.

Back when these cars were new, my brother had bought two of them over the years.   At that time, he had two small boys and a commute of about 50 miles each way (all hyw.)  

He loved these cheap cars.  They gave him no trouble.  My sister also bought an Encore that was good...for what it was and what it cost.

pointofdeparture UltimaDork
9/9/21 9:31 a.m.

I grew up in Wisconsin and goofed around with these in high school, also later had a GTA (the sporty one).

Overall they are better cars than they get credit for but parts are truly hard to find these days.

The best community resource left for these is on Facebook, but sadly a handful of group members frequently post wrong/misleading information, so be careful.


OldGray320i Dork
9/9/21 9:58 a.m.
ddavidv said:

You picked the wrong car...

 Kind of an ironic statement on this board.

Tom1200 SuperDork
9/9/21 10:52 a.m.

I race the least popular of 70s Datsuns, a 1200, so I will share some of my experience as it's similar: 

I have a parts cross reference spreadsheet that I use to keep records for every non 1200 specific part on the car as well as supercedded part numbers. 

I order parts from overseas (Australia, Japan and the UK). sometimes it takes 3-4 weeks

Things like pistons, valves, gaskets, brake shoes and pads can be made custom if need be.

On the subject of custom parts; my car has several custom fabricated parts on it. 

Club forums and Facebook pages are a great resource.

Rockauto's catalog is also a great resource; very often the parts have dimensions that you can use to source something that works. Same thing goes for manufacturers part numbers.

Be prepared to do a lot of research.

Finally to give you an example what your in store for if you want to upgrade a less than popular car: My 1200 has a Nissan 210 engine (with Mazda pistons, reground cam, custom valves & motorcycle carbs), 210 Trans, modified 280ZX front suspension & brakes with Koni race inserts, 510 wagon rear axle with roadster LSD & 240Z alloy drums, Alfa Spider shocks. The control arms, fronts sway bar mounts, driveshaft, motor & trans mount, rear traction bars and spring shackles are all custom pieces.


John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
9/9/21 11:05 a.m.

The Alliance was offered in 1.4L and then later a larger 1.7L.  Was the 1.7L derived from VW and the Rabbit or am I mixing that up with the Omni/Horizon that launched with a 1.7L that was VW derived?  

I feel confident that the Omni/Horizon had a VW engine.  Was the 1.7L in the Alliance a VW too or was it all Renault?

Streetwiseguy MegaDork
9/9/21 11:14 a.m.
John Welsh said:

The Alliance was offered in 1.4L and then later a larger 1.7L.  Was the 1.7L derived from VW and the Rabbit or am I mixing that up with the Omni/Horizon that launched with a 1.7L that was VW derived?  

I feel confident that the Omni/Horizon had a VW engine.  Was the 1.7L in the Alliance a VW too or was it all Renault?

Yes to early Dodges having the VW engine.  No to Renault using the same one.

L5wolvesf HalfDork
9/9/21 12:20 p.m.

I crewed for a couple guys in the first year 198? of the Alliance Cup on the west coast. I recall they were kind tough because of the vigorous bump drafting that occurred.

There wasn't much you could do to them beyond the upgraded shocks (Koni IIRC) and maybe wheels. There were other "upgrades" that were less approved - but don't recall them. Perhaps a former RC guy would recall.

I do seem to recall that some of the Renault stuff went on to the Sport Renaults. So maybe if not all SRs were not converted to SRFs that may be an avenue to look at.

pointofdeparture UltimaDork
9/9/21 12:54 p.m.

In reply to John Welsh :

The Alliance/Encore 1.7 was all Renault, you are right on the Omnirizon having the VW motor though.

outasite HalfDork
9/9/21 1:02 p.m.

If you live in Minnesota there is a collection of them (8-12) sitting in a weedy fenced in lot in St Cloud.

frenchyd UltimaDork
9/9/21 1:08 p.m.

In reply to rowboat :

Renault's. Heck all French cars tend to have soft suspensions but pretty remarkable road holding ability. 
  Reliability is its prime weakness followed immediately by really stupid high time required to repair.  Bolts you can see but require 4 elbows and sixteen knuckles in order to reach. 
     One I worked on to replace the clutch started with remove engine. Turns out they were right. 
     Finding spares in a junkyard is not going to be easy.  Head to Canada  for the best source of Junkyard Renault parts. 

pointofdeparture UltimaDork
9/9/21 2:28 p.m.

In reply to frenchyd :

Lots more Alliances/Encores in Wisconsin than Canada, I'd reckon.

I didn't find my FWD Renaults to be any more difficult to repair than any other Euro FWD econobox, the parts are just harder to find.

TurnerX19 UltraDork
9/9/21 2:40 p.m.

The engine and 4 speed manual trans, as well as the front suspension knuckle are all SCCA Spec Racer generation 1. Pretty fair number of good engines and crappy but functional transaxles are still around. O.P. has an automatic though, and it was craptastic when new.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/9/21 2:50 p.m.

Welcome and this is the place for any help. Enabling encouranged, right? 

Not sure if you already saw these threads: 

Worst decision ever ? Help me decide, Renault Content

Learn me: Renault Alliance GTA

Hopping up a car with NO aftermarket? (Renault content)

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