There are no two ways around it: The Renault 14 was a flop. Like all cars it had its flaws and its qualities, but its career was marred by an advertising campaign that compared its silhouette to that of a pear. Buyers discovered the 14’s bad tendency to rust by the time hoards of them reached used car lots so they were dubbed “the rotten pear.” The rest, as they say, is history.
The 14 occupied a very important spot in the Renault lineup so the automaker left no stone unturned when it developed its successor, a four-door sedan christened 9 that was introduced across Europe in 1981. The 9 spawned a hatchback dubbed 11 two years later.
Both models were designed to not be disliked by the greatest number of buyers; they were cars shoppers bought with their brain, not with their heart.
The 11’s career took two distinctly different paths: In Europe, it became a popular hatchback that offered enough room to take a family and their gear on vacation, a wide array of solid gas- and diesel-burning four-cylinder engines and modern styling. Renault expanded the lineup with a potent turbocharged variant and a model called Electronique (offered with the TSE and TXE trims) that packed a digital dashboard and 19 pre-recorded voice messages that warned the driver when a door was left opened, when the gas tank was on reserve and so forth.
In the United States, the 11 was built in Kenosha, Wisconsin, by AMC and sold as the Encore alongside the Alliance, the American name given to 9. Offered as a five- and three-door hatchback, the Alliance joined the legions of disposable cars that briefly graced the New World’s wide avenues as they went through two or three owners and completely disappeared from the automotive landscape afterwards. The build quality was sub-par and the engines were unreliable at best.
Currently, non-Turbo Renault 11s are worth next to nothing and a non-running example can be picked up in exchange for a bottle of wine. An Encore is not worth much more, but it is considerably harder to find.
Will the 11 / Encore go back up in value, or will it only appeal to dyed-in-the-wool Renault enthusiasts?