Thursday, March 14, 2013

5k: Glory B:1978 Renault Le Car R5

The Renault Le Car was sold through the soon to be defunct AMC dealer network, but didn't displace much American product because both the car, and sales figures, were low.  According to Popular Mechanics magazine the Le Car was known as the "French Rabbit... low on style, but high on personality and practicality."  We couldn't disagree more as this 1978 Renault Le Car is all style and no substance - find it in a picturesque garage in Portland, OR wrapped in Lettuce green paint, currently bidding $3,100 with 2 days to go.

The LeCar (sounds redundant, n'est-ce pas?) was badged the R5 for the rest of the world, but adopted a Franco-English name for the US Market.  The LeCar was an alternative to the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Volkswagen Rabbit - however unlike those perennial favorites, it never sold well in Francophobic America.

The R5 features a unique (unless you are really into Citroens) mid-front drive setup; that is, the engine  is mounted aft of the front wheels (between the axles) but powers the front wheels.  It is pretty much the worst drive setup for motive traction from the powered wheels, but the 1.3 liter engine only puts out 55 horsepower...when it isn't rusted into a single piece of iron oxide from disuse, as the is case with this 'LeArt.'

It is remarkable that this car looks as good as it does considering the fact that it has been sitting for a few years, but will need some sorting before you can drive it anywhere.  The dash looks surprisingly intact and we don't see anything missing.

One of the more interesting artifacts from this 'find' is the hand-stenciled lettering "Glory B" just under the driver's side window - an apparent reference to the owner's name "Gloria."  It is a fantastically odd customization, but, like those gold plaques with names such as "Bonnie" or "Gerry" on the inside of old Cadillac Broughams across the junkyards of America, it should not be removed!

LeCool or LeCrap?  At $3,100 we think LeComme-ci-comme-ça.

Lettuce be thankful for your green French car tips:


  1. The story implies "running when parked" so the stuck engine is probably just corrosion on the rings. A few shots of ATF down the spark plug holes, a bit of patience, and a 1/2 drive flex handle should sort that out.

    The R5 was a nice, nimble car to drive. Poor North American support, and rust issues ensured that few survived.

    I would buy this if I was in front of it, but the price is starting to get out of the reasonable range. Clean running examples have come up for not much more money. Oh, and that aftermarket sunroof is a letdown, since the factory sunroof is really quite nice.


  2. .............ah, I'm not sure what physics books you read but mid-ship front is a pretty cool. Saabs and Toronados hung the engine in front of the axles and everybody else parked the engine on top of the axles. I used to have to race against these R5's in Showroom Stock back then and breaking and cornering they did well (don't ask what I was driving, you might not understand).

    1. ~ aawhhh, come on. now i've got to know! please......


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