Every so often this Renault Beach Buggy of sorts pops up on one site or another for sale. We suspect that as a novelty it hits all of the right buttons. But as a usable vehicle, it is probably lacking. A lot. Nonetheless, we present the 1984 Renault Rodeo, the Renault meant to compete with the Citroen Méhari. Both were unique in that they were open beach buggies and both had plastic bodies.
Rodeo did the Méhari one better by incorporating a modular body
But the Rodeo did the Méhari one better by incorporating a modular body. Had the rodeo been prolific it would have been an inexpensive vehicle to replace body panels for in the event of an accident. In the end, Renault never made that many. Actually, Renault didn’t make any. These were produced for Renault by ACL. Total Rodeo production for the full 18 years amounted to 60,000 sold.
There were three different Rodeos manufactured starting in the early 1970s. These earlier Rodeos had one-piece plastic bodies and were two-doors. This Rodeo is the last of the series that was introduced in 1981 and lasted until 1987. Looks-wise we like this one the best. It’s the most interesting and unusual.
Other than the plastic panels the Rodeo was a parts bin car
This modular Rodeo may be an acquired taste but if you love rare and odd then you’ve come to the right place. Other than the plastic panels the Rodeo was a parts bin car. That means a 1,108 CC four-cylinder engine with an astounding 34 hp. That in itself could be one reason this undoubtedly doesn’t become your daily driver. The other is that at this rating 70 mph is the top speed.
As standard equipment, the Rodeo came with front-wheel-drive only. But for a few extra bucks you could order a Sinpar four-wheel-drive setup. Note that the ground clearance looks to be ample if you’re inclined to take one off-road. We would, however, replace the skinny 13-inch wheel/tire combo with something more substantial.
Inside a modular dash greets you and rainbow patterned seats somehow look show car-like
Inside a modular dash greets you and the rainbow patterned seats somehow look show car-like. But you know if it’s an open plastic car the interior will be spartan, and so it is. Sliding side windows continue the back to basics theme. We’d bet this is a buzz-bomb at anything north of 40 mph.
When it popped up for sale in 2017 the asking price was $8,700. By the end of last year, it had jumped up to $18,000. In August the price had shrunk to $9,900. Just a few days ago it was listed on Bring A Trailer for around $13,000. Keep in mind that as a one-of-one in the US and having spent two years tinkering before it passed California emissions $13,000 might be a steal. That is if you’re nuts for a Rodeo.