It’s amazing what you can find at the tip. Or, perhaps more tellingly, it’s amazing how long folk will hold on to something before throwing it away. Few people would get joy out of finding a copy of Motorists Guide, dated March 1983, but this is PetrolBlog and, well, anything goes.
The star attraction of this particular edition was the ‘La Poire’, aka the Renault 14. Today, Regie’s answer to the Volkswagen Golf is all but extinct, but back in 1983 it was popular enough to make the front cover of this ‘pocket size’ mag. Look at it, sat there in all its rotten pear glory.
The most striking thing about this ‘know your car’ guide to the Renault 14 is the distinct whiff of vanilla. Far be it for PetrolBlog to accuse the author Dave Lawrence of sitting on the fence, but he certainly found it hard to provide a definitive oui ou non for the 14. To quote Mr Lawrence:
The Renault 14 is quite a nice car – a middle-of-the-road, medium size family car, with a medium size engine of average power and fuel consumption.
Had this been a school report, you’d come away with the distinct impression that little Pierre wasn’t exactly pulling up any trees. With a little more effort, he could have been great, but a spacious cabin and an ability to remove the rear seats just wasn’t enough. In a playground fight against the German, Pierre would have to concede defeat to Günther.
Later that year, the arrival of the Renault 9 effectively signalled the end for the 14, an event predicted by the astute Dave Lawrence. Few people cared, except those who stumped up between £4,400 and £5,300 for the ‘middle-of-the-road’ car. Values plummeted quicker than a partridge falling from a pear tree, with Lawrence suggesting that the earliest 14s were available for around £1,100.
In fairness to Lawrence and the Motorists Guide, the points of interest section provides a more compelling case for and against the Renault 14, but the conclusion is anything but. Anyone looking to keep up with the Joneses needed to look elsewhere:
In my opinion, the car is a bit of an anomaly. There’s nothing to put you off, but nothing to turn you on too much either. If you find a bargain, it will probably be reliable and you’ll be well satisfied, but don’t expect to impress the neighbours.
Meanwhile, Mr and Mrs Jones of Acacia Road, Suburbia were being encouraged to buy the Golf, Escort and Astra, leaving the hapless Renault 14 to – both literally and metaphorically – rot in peace
If only Dave Lawrence had mounted a more compelling case in defence of the 14. Instead, he probably contributed to its rapid decline.