Welcome to Ridiculous Rebadges, a series of articles in which I go through and examine the details and circumstances surrounding some of the more infamous and some of the more esoteric vehicular rebadges throughout automotive history.
A few months ago I composed a post on why the Eagle Premier doesn’t necessarily deserve being called the worst car ever (by people who make a living creating insipid lists on the interwebs) despite being based on the rather mediocre Renault 25. Well, I recently discovered another Eagle that was not quite so eager to hide its French roots. Prior to the mighty Premier’s premier, we had the Eagle Medallion, a Renault 21 federalized for the US market. The Medallion was released one year after the EU got the Renault 21, which, by that time, had already established itself on the market as a decent family alternative to the old and dowdy Vauxhall/Opel Ascona.
While the Renault 21 was cause for celebration overseas, us across the pond were less enamored when the all-new Medallion burst into showrooms in ‘87. Disillusioned by years of Encores, Alliances, and Le Cars, the Medallion was not what we were looking for in a new car, no matter how fancy and European it may be.
And European it was, for every Medallion that showed up in the United States was crafted in Maubeuge, France before being shipped to the States for final specification and adjustment for regulations. However, while the ships carrying the Renault Medallions across the Atlantic seemed to be getting along just fine, AMC, the company that had funded the project, started taking on debts and had sunken itself by 1988. This left none other than Chrysler to sell the rest of the Renault 21s that were part of the contract and so, as with any other AMC products they had, they simply rebadged the entire lineup ‘Eagle’ and called it a day.
Since AMC had launched the Medallion on a shoestring budget, though, the few potential buyers the Medallion might have had were even lower due to the nearly non existent marketing and advertising resources, not to mention public concern over AMC’s demise.
Adding insult to injury was the Eagle Premier/Dodge Monaco model which was selling in the same showrooms as the Medallion and offered much more weight and power for the few Americans who had stumbled into an Eagle dealer and were turned off by the Medallion’s dismal Douvrin 2.2.
No one’s quite sure how many Medallions eventually sold, but they certainly weren’t breaking five digits by anyone’s reckoning, or even four for that matter. The entire lineup was discontinued after two years, in 1989, and it marked the end of another European bestseller’s (2 million sold) fate in the bigger-is-better American market. Funny how less than thirty years later Renault’s current owner produces one of America’s top selling sedans which has a very popular 2.5L I4. The Medallion was simply too little, too soon.