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Reader Ride: 1961 Renault Dauphine


Update 8/13/13 – Another price drop to $1,200.

Update 8/10/13 – Bruce has decided to lower his price to $1,500.

A friend of reader Bruce G found this low mileage 1961 Renault Dauphine that had been parked in a barn shortly after it was purchased by the original owner. Bruce’s friend let him know about it, so he bought it with the hope of restoring it. He has had it for about three years and has never gotten around to restoring it, so he has decided to let it go. He is asking $1,800 $1,500 and hoping that it goes to a good home. If you’re interested, click here to send him an email.


At some point in 1984, someone pulled it from the barn, drove it, and then parked it outside. It eventually made its way back into the barn, but by then the elements had taken their toll. Bruce claims it is solid, but that there is rust in the floors. It still has all the original pieces, but is going to need to be restored. He says the engine looks good, but he hasn’t tried to start it. Hopefully he can find someone willing to take on this project, so it can be saved. If that’s you or you know the right person for it, please get in touch with Bruce. Thanks Bruce for sharing your Dauphine with us! If you have a barn find you’d like to sell, please get in touch with us.


  1. David

    I have no idea what this might be worth restored but it would cost way more than it’s worth to do it.
    These cars weren’t very good when they were new.

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  2. Keith

    With the engine in the rear and IRS they made great dune buggies!

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  3. Brian

    But they had that great City/Country horn. Got question when you base an Ad campaign on the horn. My uncle had one new. It was pretty bad.

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  4. Palizzarq

    Hi, Bruce, where the car is ? I am interested, but I am in México

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  6. Bobby James

    I car pooled in a grey one of these while in High School! Driver would clutch and passenger would shift all at the break neck speed of 30 MPH!

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  7. paul

    Wow can’t remember the last time I’ve seen one of these.

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  8. michael

    My dad had one of these in the mid 60’s. his was a 62. was probably lighter than a VW bug. He drove it for about 2 years and could only get parts at a Renault dealer. A real POS.

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  9. Stan

    Had one just like it. Bought it brand new in Wash., DC. Worst car EVER. At 36,000 miles it was completely done. My wife even had to crank it several times to start it. Had to make my own seat covers when the originals wore out. Had to use the scraper INSIDE the windshield in the Winter since the heater died. This should be considered a pile of scrap metal!

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  10. geomechs geomechs Member

    I had a school teacher back in the 60s who drove one. He ran it until it disintegrated on the main street of town. He towed the remains to the alley behind his house and bought the lesser used remains of an NSU Prinz. It took the remains of 2 more Prinz’s before he had enough to keep the first one on the road. It seemed like every time I saw him, he was working on it but he was happy. When he married, he sidelined the Prinz and bought the remains of a Toyota Corona station wagon which he ran until it disintegrated, almost in the exact same place as the Renault. One day during a spousal ordered cleanup of the backyard, he junked everything. And lets just say that junking everything meant moving the derelicts out to my friend’s place 3 miles east of town. But my friend eventually sold his place and the new owner crushed everything that wasn’t running (about 700 cars in all). Even though that happened over 10 years ago the teacher (long since retired) laments about letting the Renault (and the Prinz’s) slip away. How does the saying go? It takes all kinds to make a world?

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  11. jim

    this car makes me smile. we had a very good Renault dealer in my area back in the 60’s/70’s so there were a lot of these along with R8/10 running around. because of his service/parts dept. most of them were in very good shape. there were also a lot of hotrod parts for these and the dealer had some very fast autocross cars based out of his store. i saw a few at this years ” imports at carlisle” also. i do hope this car is saved or used to keep other renaults going.

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  12. Dan Farrell

    Jay Leno interviewed a guy who brought his restored or original Dauphine (I forget which) to Pebble Beach. He had it done up like a rally car and it was getting a lot of attention.

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  13. car lover

    I knew an owner of this car when I was a kid, every time he hit a railway crossing the doors of his Renault opened, true story……..

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    • Stan

      The doors opened because the “hinge pins” were made of sheet metal — not solid pins. Had to be careful opening the doors so as to not pinch the pins too much or else the pins fell out and the door sagged toward the ground. Couldn’t keep a shine on this old red paint either.

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  14. Charles

    My parents bought a green one new in a Denver. That summer the four of us rode to Indiana and back to Denver to visit family. The car was a POS from day one with constant problems. Dad traded it before it was a year old.

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  15. John Cargill

    May have some good parts, but not worth the asking price.

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  16. Horse Radish

    It was alright for when and where it was designed.
    Late 50ies France.
    That is about it.
    Sorry, …….

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  17. Dolphin Member

    Some plusses and some minuses here…

    Gordini did some special tuning of these that made them perform well—for the place and time, and for a small French car. Prepared versions did well in rallying and racing and the Renault factory fielded teams for races like the Mille Miglia…yes, really…where they placed well…for a small French car. One also won the Monte Carlo rally outright some time in the ’50s. That’s definitely no small feat. In fact, it’s pretty amazing, but poor weather and the Dauphine’s RWD probably had a lot to do with it.

    My most vivid recollection of the Dauphine is a minus, unfortunately. When I was a kid the Doctor who lived across the street had one, and that was when Drs actually made house calls—-all times of the day and night. How do I know? Because the loud gear whine from the good Dr. winding that poor little Dauphine engine/transmission out to at least 12 mph in 1st, then 23 mph in 2nd, then….etc…to get up the hill in front of our house woke me up from a sound sleep every time.

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  18. Anita

    I beg to differ with the person that said they were not reliable cars. My Dad had a white one and we went camping in it. It was packed. I loved that car. Wish I was near and had the money, I would buy it.

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  19. Tom Greenacres

    After restoration, you’d still just have a Renault Dauphine. Slow, fragile, unfun, unreliable.

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  20. Joe Howell

    I laughed at them then and still do. They seem to have a way with odd and/or ugly cars and firearms. Ever see a MAS 36 or 49? Only the French.

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  21. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

    Bruce has dropped his price to $1,500.

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  22. guggie

    In High school a guy had one , last time I saw it it was on fire beside the road , they all got out safe !!
    that was 50 years ago !!

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  23. Stan

    This little four door car was designed to compete with the only two door Volkswagon bug at the time. No competition when it came to design and engineering. I believe cute commercials during the 1960 Winter Olympics with the two-tone town or country toot toot was what sold a bunch of them to the purchasers ultimate dismay.

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  24. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

    The seller just email us and is willing to drop the price to $1,200.

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  25. Stan

    $1,200? He may have to pay someone to take it to the crusher!

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  26. Rob

    Hi, I am french and here in France, we have a lot of dauphines. It was very popular when new. It is not as reliable as a chevy, but in France those cars were not made to do 200 000 miles. Here we find a lot of dauphines with less than 60 000 miles. In fact, this is the same price in France, this is a good price for it ;) And this is nice to see stories about Renaults in USA :)

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  27. Charles

    Aren’t those the models that had the starter was also the generator?

    It seems like my dad mentioned that as one of the problems he had with his Dauphine.

    My memories are vague, as I was about 4 years old at the time.

    I do remember that my parents kept one big car and one small car. The big car was a 54 Caddy. The small car had been an Isetta 300, but Dad traded it on the new Dauphine and regreted the decision very quickly. After a year of problems, he traded the Dauphine for a BMW 600. The Caddy was eventaully traded for a 59 Buick Invicta Wagon.

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