In America the Dauphine is a legend. When I lived in Delaware, the local foreign car wreckers used a Dauphine as their sign. I wonder how many people got a kick every time they passed that sign. I always liked Renaults because my mother had one that I drove a lot.
However, today's cars are much better.
The Renault Dauphine was indeed a significant contribution from the Renault stable. They were and still are aesthetically pleasing to the eye and other than the suspect swing-arm rear suspension, they handle very well for a car of their time. I have noticed though that Dauphines are much more susceptible to rust than most other cars of that era and the bodywork thus needs to be carefully maintained. This has been noted also in numerous classic car magazines and periodicals.
I bought a 1960 Dauphine in France in 1985. In 1987 on my way to Cannes, on a mountain road, my brakes jammed. I ended up in a ditch... but I survived, and so did my Dauphine. It is in my garage in the house I bought in the Alps. I also own a Renault R8 1965 that was with an automatic transmission. After 6 years of research, I finally found somebody who was capable of installing a 4 speed manual transmission that was found on a R10 from Burlington, Vermont! I drove the car this summer, and it runs great; I even showed it at the annual Hawkesbury antique car show, on August 4.
Good car? Maybe, but man were they SLOW. The HP numbers were 18, 28 and 32 (something close to that) That is amazingly slow.
Reading these reminds me of my black 61 Dauphine and my white 62 Gordini. In those years I had small children and they always managed to become car sick on windy mountain roads, but mainly on the downhill side! Going slow was a given going uphill, but the speed was made up on the downside. I wish the wet sleeve engine was still around, I didn't have any problems with either of these cars, except flimsy plastic rear heater door, plastic door handles would occasionally break off. Just fun to drive!
I bought a 1961 Renault Dauphine in 1969. It was my first car, cost me $50.
The car was very rusty. In fact, there was no front floor to speak of, just holes.
Handling was good, especially after I was given 4 radial tires off a wrecked Dauphine. Loved those bolts holding on the hubcaps, and three lug wheels!
The front end got so rusty it couldn't be aligned any more, and it loosened up and couldn't be tightened any more or the bolts would snap. Wouldn't pass NJ inspection either.
Sold it for $10, with the understanding it could never be titled for road use. The buyer let his 13 year old son drive it on their property, and got hurt when he rolled it. I was sued, but the case was thrown out.
You never forget your first car.
A friend of mine had a 1962 Dauphine, with the devilish "Ferlec" automatic clutch. It never seemed to work right.
I was about 12 in the early 60's when my dad drove a dauphine, I am not sure what model. We lived in Michigan. The four doors made the car seem much more practical than the more popular VW Beetle. My dad was obsessive about keeping car cost records. When he sold the car he was amazed to see that it cost 1 penny per mile to operate. The gas mileage was 40mpg. It had many features that US cars did not have for 15 years or more: child proof locks, one multi-function light and wiper control on the steering column, excellent traction in snow, and reclining seats. I often think of this car when modern car makers talk of fuel mileage standards. Obviously if a car could easily get 40 mpg in 1960, having a 40 mpg standard now is not that difficult. At the time, 1962, the dauphine seemed to have plenty of power to carry our family of 4 in comfort and very inexpensively. The only problem was dealer support.
I had a Blue 59, my first car. It was a really cool car. In the days before seat belts and had as many as eight people in at once.
The car was a $50.00 purchase and lasted about a year, when the 3 speed manual blew and it was not worth repairing.
Really brings back memories of 68-69.
I bought a 1959 Dauphine in 1996 for $700AUD. I owned it for the next five years and foolishly sold it for about the same. Never let me down.
The previous owner had had the engine rebuilt to Gordini specs, and it had a R10 trans-axle. The 4th gear was almost like an overdrive!
I drove it interstate many times; 3 times up the Newell between Melbourne and Brisbane. You had to hang on tight when big trucks passed as the Dauphine was susceptible to turbulence! I couldn't agree more about the tyre comment; crossply tyres on these are horrible!
I haven't had a car that was more fun to drive.