renault-dauphine_cWe are still on the same street where Captain Haddock and Tintin met General Alcazar. We know till now that Alcazar was in a hurry, which was weird as he was meeting his old friend Tintin after a long long time. In his hurry to go somewhere, General Alcazar dropped his wallet. Tintin and Captain Haddock rushed behind him across a street which showed a number of cars. The third car in the frame is a blue sedan. This car was the Renault Dauphine.

The Dauphine was manufactured by Renault as a four door, three box economy sedan. It pioneered the modern European economy cars along with the Volkswagen Beetle, the Fiat 500, the Morris Minor and Mini. It was manufactured between 1956 and 1967. The car was sold widely across the world and was manufactured in Mexico, Spain, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, Italy, Brazil, Israel, Algeria and Belgium in addition to its home country France.

Though the car came in only one body shape, it had a number of variants to cater to different clientele.

  • A sport version called the Gordini.
  • A luxury version called the Ondine.
  • A factory racing version called the 1093.

renault-dauphine_1After 5 years of development, the car was launched 06 Mar 1956. The car was a scaled down version of the Fregate. It belonged to the Ponton genre, that is a monocoque structure. The car had a front hinged bootlid which also carried the headlights. The spare wheel was located at the front under the car. The interior were spartan with two open bins in place of a glove compartment. It had two horns for use in city and on the highway which the driver could select using a switch. Dauphines were originally offered only in a number of pastel colours.

renault-dauphine_5The Dauphine was powered by a naturally aspirated inline four cylinder petrol engine that displaced 845 cc (51.57 cu-inch). Breathing through four inlet and four exhaust valves, these engines could produce 27 BHP at 4,000 rpm. They also churned out a torque of 66 N-m (49 ft-lb) at 2,000 rpm. In the sporty Gordini version, the same engine could produce 36 BHP power and 65 N-m (48 ft-lb) of torque. While the 1093 could produce 55 BHP from the same engine. Dauphines weighed 650 Kg (1,430 lb). As a result this puny engine could push the car to a top speed of 112 km/ h (70 mph). The Gordini could do 130 km/h (81 mph). Both these cars came with three speed manual transmission which transferred the power and torque from the rear mounted engine to the rear wheels. The Ondine and the 1093 on the other hand came with four speed manual transmissions.

renault-dauphine_2The Dauphine was slow with an acceleration time of 40 seconds for a 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 60 mph in 35 seconds). Its slow speeds and accelerations and a tendency to rust very fast made it quite and unpopular car in the USA where people wanted large and fast cars. In fact the 1956 Dauphine was termed as one of the top 50 “worst cars” by Time Magazine. Notwithstanding, Renault sold over 2 million Dauphines world over

renault-dauphine_3Dauphine was the equivalent of the compact sedan format extremely popular in India because of the funny excise rules which tax a car shorter than 4 m and with a petrol engine less than 1200cc or a diesel less than 1500cc. The Dauphine was 3,985 mm (156.9″) long, 1,520 mm (59.8″) wide and 1,410 mm (55.5″) tall. Dauphine’s front suspension comprised conventional coil spring, wish bone with an anti-roll bar. Rear suspension was a high pivot swing axle with concentric coil spring and hydraulic damper. 61% of the car’s weight was carried by the rear wheels.

renault-dauphine_4Despite its puny engine, the Dauphine achieved a fair amount of success in motorsports. In 1956, it took four top positions in the Mille Miglia. It also won the Tour de Corsa in the same year. In 1958 it won the Monte Carlo Rally and Tour de Corsa. Dauphine maintained its winning run with the Rallye Cote d’Ivoire in 1959 and Tour de Corsa yet again in 1962. Finally, before production ceased it won the Trans-American Sedan Championship in 1966.

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