Skip to content

June 12, 2015


Renault Dauphine

by Paul Daniel

I have never been a fan of French engineering

From my collection

Ad from my collection

I have first-hand experience with my mother owning a Renault Alliance and then me owning an Encore. This was the big deal about the partnership with American Motors and Renault. The cars were a hit out of the gate with the Alliance named Motor Trend Car of the Year but it all went down after that. Mom had the 1.4L engine in her car and I thought it sounded like a sewing machine. I opted for the 1.7L in my Encore and the car could still only barley get out of its own way. I did like the manual shift. The cars had a bunch of issues but it basically came down to cheap materials and bad engineering. Did you know that the Alliance/Encore were high on the list of stolen cars for a while? No, not for anything special, they were getting ripped off for their parts. Go figure.

Saddle up the way back machine

In the early to mid-fifties, it was French engineering that doomed the Dauphine. Garbage in, garbage out is how the concept began. Renault’s research set the design parameters of a car, top speed of 68 mph (yawn), seating for four

Ad from my collection

Ad from my collection

passengers, and fuel millage around 40 mpg. The Dauphine, a three-box design, rode on a 89.3 inch wheelbase, total length was 155 inches and curb weight was almost nothing, 1,430 pounds. Except for the speed, sounds about the same as today’s econo cars. Oh, and they were going to name it the Corvette but decided against it because of Chevy’s Corvette. Most likely the best move they made in the entire process. Engineers spent five years working on bringing the Dauphine to market. Once they had a prototype built, their chief engineer took it out for a spin which should have made him shut the door on the project.  Not one but five flat tires along with a generator failure in just over 1,400 miles of testing. Not a good start. Additionally the noise levels were too high, the car had crappy ventilation, and the engine was gutless. Well duh! After just over a million miles of testing, it was time to release the Dalphine to the public in 1956.

And it sold like gangbusters!

Like the Alliance/Encore, it sold well, except this time in Europe, passing the million mark in just four years. But here’s where their plan fell apart. The car was built for the weather conditions in Europe but essentially fell apart when they began importing Dauphines into the U.S. market to compete against the VW Bug. dauphine-junkerLike the Japanese cars of that era, the Dalphine was a victim of the tin worm and many owners thought they could be heard their cars rusting. The engine was a gutless wonder. Road and Track tested it and it took 32 seconds for it to hit 60 mph! I can grab a beer faster than that. I was surprised to find that Dauphines ran in the Trans-Am series in 1966. That must have been painful for the driver.

The car still has a following

Of the 4 million Dauphines manyfactured most have likely returned to where they came from, the dirt, but a few show up from time to time.  An average price for a good

Photo: Bonhams

Photo: Bohnams

copy is around $3,000 while the Gordini Edition goes for around $9,000. There is a demand for models, extensive in die-cast but not so much in plastic. I can’t believe they actually did a promo model of it. I found this example on eBay and it sold for $38, including all the dust. Huge upside on the promo is that it will NEVER rust.Dauphine-front                

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Craig
    Jun 15 2015

    Try Dauphine . . .


    • Jun 17 2015

      And I have the ad sitting right in front of me:) Thanks for catching that, all fixed.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to comments

Ran When Parked

Interesting Automobiles

LNB Shop

Best Shop on Earth

Classic Recollections

Every car has a story!

The Dodge Kid

Life with a 1970 Challenger R/T

Peake Ram Fiat

Chrysler - Dodge - Jeep - Ram - Fiat

Motor Sports Newswire

Worldwide Press Release Distribution

Dynamic Drive

A Queer Connoisseur's Consumption of Vintage Automobilia

Smokey the Jeep

The adventures and evolution of a lifelong dream

Women AUTO Know

Master of Your Personal Automotive Universe

Bimmer Repair

We Only Repair The Ultimate Driving Machine

Mustang Maniac

The home to Classic Mustang Restorations


Muscle Cars and Hot Rods

Lone Star Classic Cars

Buy. Sell. Trade. Consign.


Probably the Best Auto Site in the World

Wheeler Motors Headlines

Where you get some wheely good information!

Classic Fast

If it's fast, I'm writing about it.

The Best CAR Blog Ever

Yes it is!! All about Cars and More Cars..Just Cars!

sonzay CAR_tography

the history of cars according to one man

Here All Week

An entertainment from Dick Stein's Little Studio