Monday, September 1, 2014

The Renault Dauphine: A Semi-Success

One of contributors to les trente glorieuses years of French economic growth following World War 2 was Renault's Dauphine model, produced 1956-1967.  A usefully detailed Wikipedia entry on the Dauphine is here.

Dauphine sales exceeded two million units worldwide.  In the United States, it was introduced as an alternative to the fast-selling Volkswagen Beetle.  Initial Dauphine sales were strong, but lack of power and other defects soon resulted in a marketplace collapse.  These and more are chronicled in the link above.

The Dauphine was not a beautiful car nor was it even especially attractive.  But for a small mid-1950s car with a rear-mounted, water-cooled motor and its attendant packaging requirements, its styling was not bad.


Dauphines hit the American market for the 1957 model year.

This illustration offers a general view of the rear.  The VW Beetle was a two-door model only, but French buyers strongly preferred four-door passenger cars.

Like the Volkswagen, the motor occupied all the rear area behind the passenger compartment.

An interesting, rather comical view of the spare tire location and access.

The Dauphine's trunk was at the front, wedged between the wheelhouses.  Still, it was capable of holding some interesting, though small-size, cargo.

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