Renault Dauphine - Es car go, just barely.

In 1960, there were still Renault dealers in the U.S. I'm not sure if I would run out and buy one, given the chance, but it's always great to see more diversity on our roads. Back then, one could find the occasional Renault Dauphine on the street, until the first rainy afternoon and the thing disintegrated into a pile of brown crumbs.

At least according to Time magazine, it wasn't a great car. They have this to say about the Dauphine, which holds a treasured place on their list of Worst Cars of All Time. "Dauphine" translates as "runner", which seems like asking for trouble:

The most ineffective bit of French engineering since the Maginot Line, the Renault Dauphine was originally to be named the Corvette, tres ironie. It was, in fact, a rickety, paper-thin scandal of a car that, if you stood beside it, you could actually hear rusting. Its most salient feature was its slowness, a rate of acceleration you could measure with a calendar. It took the drivers at Road and Track 32 seconds to reach 60 mph, which would put the Dauphine at a severe disadvantage in any drag race involving farm equipment. The fact that the ultra-cheap, super-sketchy Dauphine sold over 2 million copies around the world is an index of how desperately people wanted cars. Any cars.
Awww, poor thing. Pity it wasn't any good. It looks good to my Eyes From the Future, which are weary of pointy, jagged cars with big fake grilles that visually pollute our roads today. I really like the tubular bumper and the intakes on the rear quarter panels, which, combined with the total lack of any grille on the nose, tell us that the Dauphine was rear-engined. Tres jolie!

The P.A.G! Research and Googling team was unable to find any Dauphines for sale. Hemmings.com is our favorite place to look at old cars and fantasize about being a Jay Lenoid. Sadly, Hemmings had nes pas les Dauphines (visage triste). Ebay had loads of parts, but no complete examples available. The largest part we found was an engine and transaxle going for $900.

The Dauphine sold for $1645 in 1960, which works out to about $13,000 in modern day futurebucks. That's a lot less than a Fiat 500, which is probably the closest thing we have in the U.S. today. Is it?

No. Wait. The Fiat is fast and reliable, by all accounts. The Smart FourTwo is a closer match. Tiny and terrible, but not without visual charm. Also rear-engined, and also about thirteen grand. I'll take a vintage Dauphine, if I have any choice.

It's been too long since we made a Graphic Gift for you. Here's the Dauphine from today's ad, a thousand pixels wide, on alpha background. That means you can drag it into another document and the windows and background will still be clear. You're welcome!

Get your rude finger ready to push this Gallic little "runner" into the multi-car pileup on your hard drive in three, two, one...rightclicknow!


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