Bug Beater: 1962 Renault Caravelle

1962-renault-caravelle-convertible-survivor

When the French automaker Renault saw the incredible success of Volkswagen’s Beetle in the American market, they knew they needed to build a competitor for the affordable rear mount VW. So they set about building a small and affordable car to give the Beetle a run for its money. The resulting product was the quirky Caravelle. Reader Robert J let us know about this 1962 Renault Caravelle Convertible, which can be found here on the San Jose Craigslist for $1,950.

1962-renault-caravelle-convertible-survivor-interior

The Caravelle was based on the Dauphine, but had a body designed by Pietro Frua of Carrozzeria Ghia. This one is in need of some attention both inside and out. The body looks solid, but the primer along the bottom creates some concerns for us. The interior is solid, but could use some work. Finding parts could be a challenge, but there is a dedicated and knowledgeable following that would be more than willing to help out.

1962-renault-caravelle-convertible-survivor-engine

Initially these came with a 30 hp 845 cc four cylinder, but in ’62 Renault installed its then new 48 hp 956 cc straight four. Performance wasn’t blistering, but it was adequate for top down cruising. The seller claims the motor runs, but that it needs carburetor work.

1962-renault-caravelle-convertible-survivor-rear-corner

The seller didn’t say much about the car in their listing, but it appears that this Caravelle is an original survivor. It will need some work, but if the engine really only needs a tune up it might make for an interesting and affordable driver. If you were looking for an affordable rear motored car, would you go with a Caravelle or a Beetle? Special thanks to Robert!

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Comments

  1. Stuart Rogers

    I had a fraternity brother who had one of these….it broke in half….

  2. Graham Line

    The Caravelle was the French equivalent of the Karmann Ghia; the Dauphine relates more closely to the Beetle.
    Later Caravelles turned up in the USofA with 4-wheel disc brakes and an 1108 cc four.
    They are great trainers in the art of momentum driving. Most were the victim of rust, indifferent maintenance and a poor dealer network.
    Still be a fun ride on a sunny day.

  3. Ken Nelson

    From what I’ve learned by owning two ’67 models, the only years of these cars worth buying are those from ’65 on, for that, if I heard right, is the first year Renault reinforced the very thin, understrength chassis. Stories out there talk about two overly heavy people being able to bend the chassis. And a good first place to check out for damage on these cars is the striker plates on the chassis – these are potmetal, and often beaten to pieces, as the doors helped stiffen the car more than they should have been needed to, and the strikers on the earlier cars suffered major damage. . IMHO, all Renault did when designing this car was to chop the top off the Dauphine, without re-engineering the chassis to take the stresses of a convertible. The mechanicals of the Caravelle are all straight off the Dauphine, R8/10. The only decent dash in my mind is the ’67, as that got nice round sportscar-type instruments. Also, I think the cars before ’63 had drum brakes, while all those later cars had 4 wheel discs – someone correct me if I’n wrong on any counts here –

    • Brian

      As I understand it, these cars were build on the Dauphine platform until the end of the 1963 model year; the ’64 -’68 models were built on the R8 chassis, which was much improved as far as structural reinforcements. From 64 on, there were no significant body changes, just cosmetic changes to the dashboard, a Weber carb, and increased power. The ’63 models were a stange mix between the early and late cars, but retained that weaker “rust in half” unibody platform.

  4. scot c

    ~ ‘car. for sale. you buy now.’ feeble ad, guess he wasn’t anticipating Barn Find’s intergalactic exposure.

  5. paul

    I remember those.

  6. Bradley Walter

    Looks kind of like a non-amphibious Amphicar.

  7. Will

    That is a truly bizarre speedometer font. It looks like it was painted on by a drunken 2nd grader.

  8. Dan Farrell

    What can you about a company that used three lug nuts per wheel.

  9. AMCFAN

    I once bought out a large dealership parts inventory (25 years ago) in West Virginia. The dealer was an American Motors Dealer but sold multiple imports through the years like Sunbeam,Fiat, Peugeot and Renault. The building was a 4 story with only an elevator the size of a small car. No stairs and a very bad roof that leaked on the elevator motor. Scary. The dealer had enough nos parts to build build both a Caravelle, Dauphine R8-10. Sold the lot to an import parts dealer in Ohio for $400! The building where they were then stored burned to the ground. Sad now as I would consider restoring a vintage Renault.

  10. FRED

    I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF THIS CAR BEFORE NOW AND AFTER READING ALL THE COMMENTS FROM BF FOLLOWING IT SOUNDS LIKE I AM LUCKY I NEVER DID CAUSE IT IS A COOL LOOKING LITTLE RIDE THAT COULD BE A LOT OF FUN IF IT DIDN’T HAVE ALL THE PROBLEMS MENTIONED HERE.GOOD LUCK TO THE BUYER

  11. Rancho Bella

    fRED is still mad………………un-cap the cap lock brother………

  12. mark

    In 1964 I learned to drive in one of these. It was a real thrill to see if you could get it up to highway speed and merge into traffic from the on-ramp(might get up to speed if the ramp was going downhill). Still, it had both hard and soft tops and was a fun little cruiser in the summer time.

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