Wednesday, October 19, 2011

1962 Renault Dauphine - An Easy Restoration?

In the US the Dauphine was a direct competitor to the VW Beetle.

Unlike the Beetle, the Dauphine had 4 doors. The interior was relatively roomy and comfortable. The engine, like the VW's, was mounted in the back, but it was water cooled, meaning you actually got real, non-toxic heat in the passenger compartment. The ride was typically French comfortable. On paper it was twice the car the VW ever dreamed of being.

Too bad we don't drive on paper. In reality it was a nightmare. The engine was prone to overheating. Clutches failed at an alarming rate. The electronics were iffy. Worst of all, the dealers were completely unequipped to deal with the problems. They often lacked the parts needed to perform the simplest of repairs and, even when they had the parts, the mechanics were not well trained on how to work on the car.

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, the Dauphine, once the second best selling import in North America, gave Renault a poor reputation, one from which they never fully recovered.

This is a pretty impressive looking Dauphine. The seller days it needs a "complete restoration", but I've seen cars in much, much worse shape.

The seller includes a video (below) of the car running and it sounds pretty good. I can see no serious smoke coming from the tailpipe and it appears to be running on all cylinders. It's revving pretty high at idle, so a carb adjustment is probably in order. It also looks like it's going fairly slow for the engine speed, so it also may need a new clutch.

The interior is complete and not all that bad. The front seats need to be recovered and the steering wheel is broken, but the door panels and headliner look like they're in remarkably good shape.

The body, assuming it's not loaded with Bondo, is in very nice shape. Most of the trim pieces are still with the car. The rear window is missing, but the hard to find gasket and chrome trim are still there. The rear bumper will need to be replaced. I can't see any serious rust on the body or inside the trunk. Dauphines rusted badly however, and this car should be thoroughly check for bad rust repairs before you bid on it.

If this car is everything it appears to be in the pictures, it could be a real bargain and an easy restoration.

Located in Fraser, MI, click here to see the eBay listing.


R1326 said...

As someone who has had too many Renaults, I found that the rear-engined cars sometimes had greater mechanical parts availability than the front wheel drive cars of the 1970s. However, this car's rear window, steering wheel, engine pan, and trim parts will be hard to find.

Would be fun for slower, around town driving after carb, brake rebuild.

Marlow said...

There is one of these in my local junkyard.

skonieczki said...

I am local to this car and I contacted the seller asking if I could come check it out in person. This is his strange reply:
"sure, you can do that if you like. however, I think that it will be waste of time as I have stated on the ad that it needs total restorations. that means totally taking the car a part and repairing it from a to z.

This has pretty much turned me off from the car. I said I still wanted to see it but he has given me no info to facilitate that.
I will update if I get to see it in person.

Just A Car Geek said...

skonieczki - What a weird response from the seller.

Definitely keeps us updated if you get to see it.