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1987 Renault GTA :: For Sale


PhilA
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Hey y'all,

 

This is my project vehicle. A bunch of y'all here will know it.

 

post-5454-0-79426000-1520860773_thumb.jpg

 

Bought for $150 back in 2008. That's actually less than scrap value here. Saved it from being pushed backwards into the bayou by the previous owner.

 

It looks like a Renault 9. It kinda is, in a way. It's the bottom of a R11 with the top of a R9 with the back that they came up with over here ad-hoc. The engine's about the same, it's an Espace block, bored out with a crank specific to the engine, and a 1.7 turbo head- to give a capacity of 2.0 litres. Makes the car shift like a scalded cat.

 

It's been a slow progression to this point. It's a low budget, low speed rebuild. Rebuilding it to mechanical factory spec. Bodywork is staying factory spec apart from the paint.

 

Currently almost ready to go on the road- just have the brakes to rebuild. If y'all want, I have the last five years I can condense with a few pictures :)

 

--Phil

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Yay! It's a 2-litre petrol job, isn't it? I tried bookmarking its thread on RR but to no avail - I'm glad you've turned up here. Many welcomes.

 

Thanks. Yes, 2.0 petrol. Single point Bendix fuel injection (which has been as much fun aa hole in the head), making 97 raging Wisconsin horses. Admittedly it does have 116lbft of torque so it can get out the way of its own shadow. But only on "premium" gasoline, according to the manual.

 

-Phil

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I'm normally a bit dubious of Americans on Autoshite in case they want to talk politics and shag my missus but as you own a horny Renault I'll give you the benefit of the doubt,

 

Welcome aboard!

 

Oh, I'm ok. I escaped from there.

 

-Phil

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Okay. First segment of history. I'mma bore y'all.

 

http://g.co/maps/qkhtm Saw the car parked on the patch of gravel here just before hurricane Gustav, in 2008.

Purchasing a vehicle just before a mandated evacuation isn't viable. Wife said that if the car was there when we got back that I could ask the guy about it.

 

It was there still, relatively unscathed when we returned. Called the number in the window, eyeballing the $450 price written next to it. The guy met up with us. apparently he was impressed I knew what it was. For some reason without me even haggling, he decided to sell it me for $150 because otherwise he was going to push it into the bayou. The deal was struck, and he even towed me home.

 

r9_front.jpg

r9_rear.jpg

 

That was the first day of ownership. Didn't look too bad. Didn't run. Didn't even try turning it over as the cambelt was in the passenger footwell, split.

belts_wtf.jpg

Yeah, that's been on there longer than the 30k recommended.

 

Spent a while doing research about the vehicle. Tried to hunt down spares and other odds and ends.

Took the cylinder head off. Not a pretty sight.

blocktop.jpg

no4piston.jpg

cylinderhead.jpg

valvecloseup.jpg

 

Took it further to bits. The damage caused by the end of the poppet breaking off and getting wedged cracked the piston crown:

cracked_crown.jpg

 

The rest was ok. Nice touch, oil jets to cool the pistons.

bottoms_up.jpg

 

The bearings were worn but not scored. Out came the micrometer. The crank is well within factory spec.

bigendbearingshells.jpg

 

A year passed where I didn't have the cash to do anything much, but started to amass the various bits and bobs. Came the time to pull the engine out:

gtainbits.jpg

 

Rebuilt the engine in the bedroom. The wife wasn't totally upset. Reason? No carport, and outside is so humid that flash rust shows up on unprotected metal in about 30 minutes.

DSC04595.jpg

New rings custom made in California, new bearings, new seals. Nicely freshened up.

rings3.jpg

DSC04607.jpg

DSC04612.jpg

DSC04619.jpg

engine_w_covers.jpg

 

New belts and waterpump etc, all outside. New motor mounts, and I stuck it into the car.

clean_engine_bay.jpg

engine_on_crane1.jpg

engine_in1.jpg

 

Got it all in and plumbed up...

engine_alternator1.jpg

 

 

...the next instalment soon.

 

--Phil

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Wow!

 

First Volksangyl's princess and now this! We are truly entering a new golden age I think. Great car, my Dad had a Renault 9 (four door version of yours) with 1397cc of naturally aspirated powah. Always liked it and have a soft spot for these Alliance models as a result. Look forward to further updates!

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Wow!

 

First Volksangyl's princess and now this! We are truly entering a new golden age I think. Great car, my Dad had a Renault 9 (four door version of yours) with 1397cc of naturally aspirated powah. Always liked it and have a soft spot for these Alliance models as a result. Look forward to further updates!

 

Well, the updates are probably going to be in the same vein as the one above; a highly condensed version that misses a fair bit out but gives the general gist of the story. A bit like watching a vhs tape on fast forward.

 

I'd recognized it because I remember the Renault 9 models too. We did get the 1.4 here but only with multi-point fuel injection- carburetors are known to the state of California to cause cancer therefore aren't allowed.

Once they'd loaded the poor thing down with power steering, air conditioning and a larger alternator to handle the extra electrical load, they had a hard time getting going anywhere, especially with the automatic gearbox they had at the time.

Coupled with "interesting" quality control, they quickly gained a bad reputation. The addition of the 1.7 "F" block engine helped a little until after forty thousand miles of no maintenance their cam belts started to break.

To try and beef up sales the GTA was introduced for 1987, 4 years after the introduction of the Alliance. It was the small Renault (cam belts aside) that America had wanted... four years back.

Renault and AMC's financial crisis hit a peak amd prediction was halted, followed by a halt in sales in '87. The dealerships closed. People were left to their own devices with the vehicles. Run into the ground, they didn't fare well. A bad reputation was marred by this and really the car's image never recovered.

 

I don't care.

 

According to the people who know, they made about 2000 GTA badged cars, about 2/3 of them converted at the factory into rag-top models. Mine was built in October of 1986, ready for the early '87 launch.

Apparently there's about 200 left. Most of them don't run. Cambelt failure got to them, like mine.

 

Bit of a shame really, as the bodywork is sound. There's one bit of rust on the entire car, by the driver's side door that needs a rub back and a coat of paint.

 

Mechanically? Terrible. It was completely worn out.

Being towed home, applying the brakes would cause the car to lurch violently to the side, up until the brakes forced the wheel straight whereby it would stop in a straight line. The wheel bearing was that bad. Previous owner's comment- "oh, I didn't know what that noise was. Is it bad?"...

 

It's been a learning process.

 

-Phil

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What a car - and what a bargain! 8)

 

Are those Audi alloys? :D

 

Almost but not quite Audi alloys. Same design, just in 15" and 4x100 pcd. Made by Ronal, stamped Made In Germany.

As with 99% of them the centre caps are long gone.

 

The wife disagrees on the "bargain" part. This was going to be a "cheap, quick fix to make a cheap runaround". Totals for the car so far- 5 years and about $1600. And it's still not in the road.

 

-Phil

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I dint realize that Renaults where event sold here in the USA,I have never seen one here. I moved here to Mississippi at the beginning of 2011 from Henlow, I miss the UK quite a bit so forums like this keep me happy!

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I dint realize that Renaults where event sold here in the USA,I have never seen one here. I moved here to Mississippi at the beginning of 2011 from Henlow, I miss the UK quite a bit so forums like this keep me happy!

 

Heh, you're just up I-55 from here, about 130 miles. I've been here since '07.

 

Renault bought out American Motors Corporation (AMC) in the early eighties, didn't quite know what to do with it for 5 years, screwed up and sold out. The name never really got remembered for anything other than a joke. Mind you, put up against contemporary "hot hatches" the GTA wasn't half bad. Best in class for '87, in fact.

But then again, it was up against the Ford Escort GT and the VW Golf GTi. Make your own judgement. ;)

 

(Renault also sold the 21 here for a short period, in estate form. Someone fairly close to you in Alabama has a '97 Laguna that slipped through the net. heh.)

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More winning shizzle! I think this comment:
A bad reputation was marred by this and really the car's image never recovered.

 

I don't care.

 

Means you'll fit in just fine! Sums up Autoshite really.

 

 

I try :)

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Welp, where were we in the five-year history of this wonderful automobile? Ah yes. Engine's in, making it work.

 

For those of you not in the know, Renault teamed up with Bendix and Siemens to make a wonderful fuel injection system called Renix.

 

This is what it looks like when it's not in its tin:

bare_ecu.jpg

 

Why isn't it in its tin? Because it caught fire!

As I have quoted elsewhere, Lucas electrics may contain the most smoke, but French electrics merely give up without a fight and then go on strike.

 

ecu2.jpg

That little toasty-looking black piece there that looks awfully singed is a very bizarre one. you can pop open a transistor radio of similar vintage and find one inside. Yup, after many hours of research and datasheets and phonecalls... it's a stereo transistor amplifier. Inside my fuel injection computer.

Traced the wiring from it and determined it drives the little electric motor for the throttle pedal stop- puts the revs up at idle when the engine's cold or the air-con is on etc.

icm.jpg

This had jammed up. Thought I'd buy another one as it's a standard 80's piece of GM tat but the way China makes them these days I figured I'd do better repairing the current one. I was right.

 

pressure_regulator_in_bits.jpg

Took the throttle body fuel pressure regulator to bits. It was full of caked up muck. Set it up properly.

gauge_assembly.jpg

 

At this point the original fuel pump gave up the ghost.

Lifted the tank out.

tank_dropped.jpg

 

There were spiders.

another_spider.jpg

 

Cleaned it all up, killed the spiders and replaced the fuel pump with a nice shiny new one off amazon or ebay or somewhere. It was fairly cheap and well put together at least.

The old pump had jammed up solid because the filter had fallen to bits.

ethanolpipe.jpg

The fuel pipe hadn't fared too well either. It had the consistency of tar.

 

Bunged that all back together, pfaffed about with electronics a bit:

ecuresistance.jpg

 

Still didn't want to run properly. (Read: at all)

Turns out in the end it was the distributor cap had gone bad along with the rotor and the spark was going wherever it bloody well wanted to.

New cap and arm and leads and plugs later:

spark_wires.jpg

 

It starts and runs. Just a little. Pops and bangs like a pig and to make it move involved nearly redlining it and feathering the clutch.

Further investigation ensued:

renault_scope.jpg

car_diags_laptop2.jpg

injector.jpg

oring.jpg

spray_cleaner.jpg

new_fuel_injector.jpg

colortune_box.jpg

totem_inverter.jpg

setup_in_car2.jpg

 

Lots of the above.

Ended up replacing every sensor and sender that's connected to the ECU barring the throttle position sensor- that's about the only bit that's still within tolerance.

Had lots of fun with electrics- dropped the tank again (at this point considering cutting a hole in the boot floor for access) to replace the pipe I'd fitted which split, and then again to repair the "Low fuel" warning light because it didn't work and it aggravated me.

 

At this point the car's running pretty well. Ironed out a few bad connections, and now the car starts and goes like it should.

 

Bought an Arduino board and programmed it to talk to the car.

breadboard_fail.jpg

 

Still working on that bit as all the documentation I can find for it is either in French (which wouldn't be bad but the French appear to like to write acronyms for everything. How am I supposed to figure what "Oc. DSH" is, when I don't speak the language?" Anyhow...) or Norwegian, which is again not a tongue I'm fluent in.

Trial and error are ruling the day on this, and so far, so good. Still needs work though.

interior_computer.jpg

 

That's the precis of four years of fighting with French electronics. It's been a lot more complex than I make out...

 

--Phil

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A 1987 Renault Alliance GTA still exists?!? Brilliant! It's been ages since I've seen one.

 

FYI, the two-door Alliance came about when AMC's Kenosha, Wisconsin factory adapted the body of the R9 saloon to accept the doors from the R11 three-door hatch.

 

In 1992, I briefly owned a 1983 Renault (R9) Alliance DL four-door saloon with the 1.4 litre engine and five speed manual gearbox. The experience proved to me that a bunch of Wisconsin Cheeseheads could slap Renaults together with the same level of indifference towards build quality as their French counterparts. Two months after buying the car the engine threw a rod through the oil sump. Luckily, I was within walking distance of home when the Renault died.

 

BTW, those are some amazing electrical skills you have! That requires a level of patience I simply do not possess!

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A 1987 Renault Alliance GTA still exists?!? Brilliant! It's been ages since I've seen one.

 

FYI, the two-door Alliance came about when AMC's Kenosha, Wisconsin factory adapted the body of the R9 saloon to accept the doors from the R11 three-door hatch.

 

In 1992, I briefly owned a 1983 Renault (R9) Alliance DL four-door saloon with the 1.4 litre engine and five speed manual gearbox. The experience proved to me that a bunch of Wisconsin Cheeseheads could slap Renaults together with the same level of indifference towards build quality as their French counterparts. Two months after buying the car the engine threw a rod through the oil sump. Luckily, I was within walking distance of home when the Renault died.

 

BTW, those are some amazing electrical skills you have! That requires a level of patience I simply do not possess!

 

 

There are a few still hanging around, though mostly up north.

Oddly this one appears to have been assembled with care. The Louisiana sunshine has baked the upwards facing surfaces. Everywhere else has seemingly been protected by the seven layer process they advertised.

 

I've had a fair bit of help with the electronics- typically Renault the code is different from any other variants of the "same" fuel injection computer.

Seemingly just for fun they took the multi-point injection board, left off a bunch of the driver circuitry and made it single point injection instead.

 

I have yet to figure what the baseline code is actually FROM. Closest so far is Jeep 2.5 code coupled with Renault 25.

 

By the feel of it on the short, low speed test runs I've been able to take it on (15 mph, about 1/4 mile) it feels like it should be quite entertaining to drive :)

 

-Phil

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I'm in awe of the electronic fault-finding skills you appear to possess.... never seen a scope balanced on an engine before, and I can't quite work out what you need the Arduino for but props anyway!

 

The oscilloscope is handy to diagnose random stuff on the datastream and to check out outputs from various sensors.

 

The Arduino... well, that's because Renault suck and sold the rights to Renix off to someone so there's very little information available about the way they work. The big suitcase sized diagnostics boxes that used to be at dealerships turn up occasionally but there's no guarantee they work properly or at all.

So, I decided to see if I could interface with the computer- it has a constant data output when the ignition is switched on, giving a fairly detailed overview of what the engine's doing. Getting it to talk to the outside world isn't so simple, so I designed an electronic interface and wrote a program for the Arduino to get it to display the ECU's thoughts.

 

It's a work in progress, but it does work :)

 

--Phil

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Hi,

that is a nice project. I'd love one.

 

Do you know about the diagnostic tool XR25pc? Google it and you can download it for free. You don't have to program everything yourself :) Works fine on my R25 and Espace...

 

http://www.calameo.com/books/000677135532be26372c3

 

daniel

 

 

Ah, yes.

 

Great for European models. Does it work on the GTA? No. Unfortunately been there done that, hence the Arduino :)

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Further history on the thing.

 

When I got it, the heater was bypassed by a random bit of ill-fitting hose. I took a guess at what the issue was- the carpet was covered in rusty brown stains.

Yup, the wonderful heater matrix problems that plagued the Alliance series.

 

Lifted the dash out.

3282371304_88cfa4095f_z.jpg

Dashboard by renault9gta, on Flickr

 

That leaves a big old pile of wires.

3281550061_af8717c801_z.jpg

Interior, no dash by renault9gta, on Flickr

I don't know why it needs so many.

 

The car was built around the heater core, I think. It's gotta have been one of the first things in. Connected with these typical clip-in connectors:

3226023403_66217fa94b_z.jpg

Old heater core connectors by renault9gta, on Flickr

 

Oh. It's not the original one either. But it was definitely leaky. Went in the bin.

3282823552_3593016f04_z.jpg

AMC 'replacement' heater core by renault9gta, on Flickr

 

Got a new old stock one with the car. Marked 1984, these are the Valeo ones that have a reputation of going pop. Fail. Fitted it anyway.

3226877750_1815b2aea1_z.jpg

New heater core by renault9gta, on Flickr

 

Upon reinstalling the dash, I left out the "stereo" equipment.

3282822542_3be10cc4cf_z.jpg

Hi-Fail. by renault9gta, on Flickr

 

With it all back together it looks fairly presentable.

interior_presentable.jpg

 

That was short-lived as the dash clocks began to act up. Over and over again.

Overhauled the cracked colored gels:

incandescent.jpg

turnsignal_telltales.jpg

 

Stuck some LED's together:

assorted_pieces.jpg

short_led_comparison.jpg

 

Which made all the difference:

incandescent_mainbeam.jpg

led_mainbeam.jpg

 

The dash, improved.

dash_lights.jpg

 

Then the turn signal switch broke:

4_lightswitch_2.jpg

 

Found a new one in the UK for a few quid, mislabeled, for an Extra van:

5_new_r11_switch.jpg

 

Then the dash stopped working again:

dash_out_again.jpg

bulldog_clip.jpg

broken_pcb_trail.jpg

2_dash_in_working.jpg

 

Then the interior fan quit, turned out to be something completely random:

fusebox_labeled_fan.jpg

recieverdrier_window.jpg

Which got the aircon working. Nice.

 

Lots of random stuff on the interior. There's more, but that's another day.

 

--Phil

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