Saturday, April 9, 2011

Tuner Turtle: 1965 Renault Dauphine Gordini

1965 Renault Dauphine Gordini

By 1966, Renault's worldwide production of it's French "people's car" had eclipsed one million units. But the largest untapped marketplace- America- had yet to be conquered. The idea of a fuel efficient, sporty and affordable car for America was nothing new. Volkswagen and Fiat had already amassed a strong following. But in an epic case of misunderstanding its market, the Dauphine was introduced as an underpowered and poorly sprung urban transporter just as the high speed American interstate highway system was coming to full bloom.

To boost performance, Renault called in tuner Amedee Gordini. Gordini was actually Italian, born in the great motorsports region of Emilia-Romagna, home to Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Bandini and others. He learned his trade working for Maserati and later Simca. The Dauphine variant that bears his name sported four wheel disc brakes, a four-speed transmission, and a whopping 37hp. It was not enough to save the market for this unique car, and its failure in the U.S. threatened the existence of Renault itself.

This particular example claims Florida heritage...which to these thin metal bodies is not always a good thing. It looks to have an older restoration to club standards, and the motor appears tidy enough. The $5500 asking price is consistent with other sales achieved for this model in this condition. Just don't expect to win any drag races.

Still, there is a charm about Dauphines and we have always wanted the licensed-built Alfa Romeo version- more so having seen this 1960's commercial .Consistently voted amongst the worst cars ever produced. Reviewed by Road & Track magazine in period as "peevish" (yes, we had to look that one up to make sure we got it right: it means discontented or ill-tempered) Still there is something about this old underpowered, underbuilt, underdog that appeals.

No comments:

Post a Comment