Wednesday, July 20, 2016

1961 Renault Dauphine

Some people prefer domestic cars and some European. The problem with trying to buy a European car in the United States as a whole nation of manufacturers is missing. The French manufacturers withdrew from these shores starting in the mid seventies and by the end of the eighties no new Renaults were being sold. In 1961 the Dauphine was a success in Europe, but in the United States not so much. We would be remiss if we included the most popular cars of this century without including one some considered one of the worst. For your consideration please feast your eyes on this 1961 Renault Dauphine located  outside of Jacksonville, Florida  for $4,750.00 or best offer, trades considered.  This post is part of DT's 2016 Birthday Celebration of 100 cars; enjoy the ride!

A post war, modern, economy car and peer with the Volkswagen Beetle, Fiat 500, and Morris Mini the Dauphine is not remembered as fondly as other cars of the era. When is the last time you passed one on the road? Have you seen one on the corner lot for sale lately? The rear engined, rear wheel drive car is not an unattractive design and more sleek and rounded like the Beetle and less square than the Mini but with four doors unavailable on the other two. Truthfully this would be a fun driving experience to compare with other cars of the era but after reading Road & Tracks review that the Dauphine took 32 seconds to make it to 60 I don't know if I possess the patience. Called "The most ineffective bit of French engineering since the Maginot Line" by Dan Neil inspires no confidence. Yet, for me, the Dauphine still remains an object of desire. Must be the Frenchness.

With 36 hp at 4,000 rpm the car is more suited to shorter European travel than the wide open interstates that now dominate. We know wide open spaces prefer horsepower and economy cars with smaller engines lost out to larger displacement engines until the oil crisis. The engine bay looks intact and sparse with the 845 cc inline four in place and could use cleaning.    

The interior needs work, but looks original and a good starting point.  With the front tire held below the trunk the Dauphine even looks a little Pixar like. The car is either sticking out its tongue or eating an Oreo cookie.  

Maybe one day soon there will be a Gallic return to our shores. See a better way to smoke a Gauloises or two while accelerating to 60? Let us know your experience with a Dauphine in the comments below.

A refugee from the frozen north who loves running and water sports, Adam can be found looking for the next slow car to drive fast when he has access to electronics he hasn't immersed in liquids. He is an analog kid, not a digital man.   


  1. OK, so there's a small liquid cooled inline four in the back... I wonder if you could fix the slow acceleration problem with a GSXR 1000 engine swap?

  2. qui est ton pere?
    [image src="" width="500px"/]

  3. Ou, si tu prefere, "Maman, qui est mon pere?"

  4. Actually, what predominates now is a nose-to-tail 40mph procession of Lexus RX350s and Ford F150s. And the occasional Google bus.

    1. Of course, that depends on where you are.

  5. I'm envisioning this as the roadgoing Gallic version of one of those Nerf disc launchers, zipping down the road and you hit the button and BOUM! out goes a 145R-15 Michelin to take out some errant motorcyclist.


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