- - Thursday, June 2, 2011

@Text.noindent:A quarter century ago, Jeff Masoner was a student at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh when his ancient car died. Needing an inexpensive replacement, he considered a Dodge Omni, a Plymouth Horizon, a Mazda GLC, a Honda Civic and a Renault Le Car.

@Text.normal:With the money burning a hole in his pocket, he went to buy Le Car, “the one with the great character” but the salesman he had talked with was not in. With all the wisdom of a college student he left, went down the street and bought a Toyota Corolla.

He never got over what he considered losing Le Car.

About the same time, on Aug. 28, 1982, a summer resident of Kennebunk, Maine, went to Crepeau Motors, the local AMC/Renault dealership, and purchased a 1982 deluxe four-door Renault Le Car.

The base price of the diminutive French car was $6,130. It came equipped with an 85-cubic-inch four-cylinder engine that developed 51 horsepower, which was mated to a four-speed manual transmission and a speedometer with a limit of 85 mph.

The cast-iron engine block and an aluminum cylinder head was crowned by a Weber downdraft two-barrel carburetor.

The spare tire nestles in the right rear corner of the engine compartment.

The original owner opted for the $199 Master Shield Rust Protection, which probably explains why the 11-foot, 10.5-inch-long car exists today, that and the fact that it was never driven during the winter months.

The little car stands 55 inches tall and is 60 inches wide. The most unusual dimension, however, is the wheelbase, or should that be wheelbases.

The wheelbase on Left side is 95.8 inches while the right side wheelbase is 94.6 inches.

The deluxe Le Car with a softback sunroof, was delivered with a heater but no radio, tinted glass, and the much-coveted Le Car carpeted front floor mats.

Standard equipment included the front disc brakes.

For more than two decades Le Car served as a trusty summer car in Maine before the owner, after accumulating 22,000 miles on Le Car, reportedly decided to bring it to his home down south to Charleston, S.C.

As the story goes, the garage space assigned to Le Car was soon usurped by a Mercedes-Benz and the owner couldn’t bear to see the little Le Car sit out in the weather, so it was sold.

Le Car ended up at a Wilkinsburg, Pa., dealer which is where Mr. Masoner happened upon it. Negotiations ensued and in September of 2004 the title to Le Car changed hands.

Story Continues →