Like fellow economy cars such as the original VW Beetle, the Renault Dauphine was rear-engined and wildly popular.
Aside from the Porsche 911, butt-engined vehicles are now a thing of the past and they’re more than likely to remain that way. But there was a time when rear-engine family cars were quite popular. Back in the 1950s, this type of engine configuration was fairly common, especially amongst many European-built economy cars, such as the Renault Dauphine. First unveiled in 1956, the Dauphine was the direct successor to the 4CV.
Like models such as the original VW Beetle, Fiat 500 and even the Morris Minor, the Dauphine became yet another hot-selling European economy car, a segment very popular after World War II. It was designed to have what’s called a three-box design with Ponton styling, which means that when looking at the car from the side view, it’s literally divided into three separate compartments: engine, passenger and trunk. The Ponton styling theme was common at that time as it featured the car’s fenders and running boards becoming more fully integrated with the rest of the body. In other words, large front fenders were going out of fashion.
Power came from an 845 cc inline-four that, while slow (0-60 mph in 37 seconds), got the job done well enough. It was paired with a standard three-speed manual transmission and a push button three-speed automatic came later. Although it wasn’t anything near a performance car, the Dauphine proved an instant success. In fact, Renault estimated that a fully completed Dauphine rolled off the assembly line every 20-30 seconds. And it wasn’t just in Europe where the car proved to be a hit. The Dauphine was produced under license in at least seven other countries, selling particularly well in South America.
After 10 years of production, over 2 million units were built. This 1962 Dauphine for sale on eBay is the DeLuxe model, but it’s hardly luxurious. It has an upgraded 1400 cc inline-four and four-speed manual. The seller claims there’s no rust on the undercarriage and its restoration is just about complete. Mechanically speaking, it also has new disc brake pads, rubber hoses and front-end suspension bushings. The original factory radio still exists and there’s only about 21,000 miles on the clock. The current bid, as of writing, is $6,500.