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View Full Version : Studebaker Lark vs Renault Dauphine ....was it really that close?



Cowtown Commander
08-31-2017, 11:21 PM
I've been cleaning the garage and before tossing them I was looking at some old Collectible Automobile that were in a box. The August 2005 issue had an article on the Renault Dauphine and listed Renault US sales for 1959 as 91,073. I was shocked by that number in comparison to the 126,156 Studebaker sales. There weren't any foreign cars in rural Minnesota in 1959, makes me wonder where they were sold. Now I haven't spent a lot of time looking for a 1959 Renault, but I've never seen one in person nor can I ever recall seeing an advertised for sale. Guess it was like the later Alliance, they were sold for a few years and then totally disappeared.

StudeRich
09-01-2017, 12:02 AM
The VW's and Renaults started appearing in larger Car & population areas (L.A., Detroit, New York) in around 1951 but not in THOSE numbers of course, and I remember quite a few.

ddub
09-01-2017, 01:30 AM
Had a friend in college about 1961 drove a Renault. He called it a Dope Fiend.

t walgamuth
09-01-2017, 06:40 AM
They were around but that sounds like a lot.

sweetolbob
09-01-2017, 06:50 AM
My brother owned one. A rather meh! vehicle that rusted away faster than the Fiat's did here in Michigan. Bob

dpson
09-01-2017, 07:28 AM
I owned a 1969 Renault R16 when I was a poor college student. It was sold new in Arizona so it didn't have any rust. Mechanically it was a piece of crap, but had the most comfortable seats of any car I've owned.

DEEPNHOCK
09-01-2017, 09:05 AM
My first automotive police interaction was with a friends unlicensed, uninsured, and no back window Renault Dauphine.
Was pulled over by the Itasca police chief driving the Dauphine back to my friend Bobby's house.
When the chief looked at me he knew I had no license (I was barely 15)...
Uh oh...:oops:
I blame it on the Renault:whome:

Anyways.. The Dauphine was quite a bit smaller than a Lark..

53k
09-01-2017, 09:47 AM
Renault Dauphines were a very poor investment. You were looking at engine overhaul between 30,000 and 40,000 miles. They were extremely lightweight and underpowered. My sister-in-law and her husband had one. They didn't keep it very long. They drove 16 miles one way to work. If there was a strong wind that day, they couldn't drive it. It didn't have enough power to get up to highway speeds against a head wind and a Kansas crosswind was even worse.

Skip Lackie
09-01-2017, 09:50 AM
Can't verify those sales figures, but they were very popular as commuter cars (for a few years) in the big cities of the East Coast. A lot of VWs were purchased for the same purpose. After a couple of years, the VWs were still around, but the Dauphines were all gone.

Blue 15G
09-01-2017, 10:14 AM
I was just a kid in the late 50s and early 60s, but I remember Renault Dauphines around the Pittsburgh area as being semi-common. There were a lot of magazine ads for them at the time too. I'm sort of surprised, like Cowtown Commander, that 91,000 were sold in '59. Skip is right though, when he says the VWs survived and the Dauphines were soon history!
A family friend near us had one in the later 60s while he was in college. He owned another parts car for it, just to help keep the main one running, and the car wasn't even 10 years old. Actually, by the time this was going on the Dauphines had already become a rare sight around here.

57pack
09-01-2017, 11:01 AM
My wife owned one of those Dauphines. It's problems were many, i.e. Melted tail lamp lenses, and the propensity of kids working in filling stations of putting gasoline in the oil fill tube. The gas fill and oil fill tubes were located under the rear engine cover.
I still have a couple of metric wrenches marked Renault from that car.

wittsend
09-01-2017, 11:41 AM
My brother had a Daulphine. I drove it on the freeway - ONCE. The steering wheel was about as large as one on a city bus and also positioned as such. The swing axle suspension wallowed all over the road and I swore I'd never drive it again. That said their quirky appearance has always caught my eye. Especially modified versions. Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZlIrt33kdY

Scott
09-01-2017, 12:13 PM
My father had a Renault Dauphine in Minnesota around 1960, so I guess they were there.

Buzzard
09-01-2017, 12:22 PM
From the Greater Vancouver British Columbia coastal area, we had lots of foreign imports in the 50's, mostly from England. Austins, Morris's, Triumphs, Riley, MG, Roots Group, Peugeot, Volkswagen, Fiat, Citroen and Renault and many more I've long since forgotten. I think this was partially due to it being an ocean port so destination was easy. Also being a British Commonwealth country we were joined at the hip with England. I worked with a nut case who had a Renault Dauphine and he installed a six cylinder from a Porsche 911(circa 1967). He never could get it to drive straight. Gee I wonder why but it was fast for the day.
Bill

8E45E
09-01-2017, 02:06 PM
I was just a kid in the late 50s and early 60s, but I remember Renault Dauphines around the Pittsburgh area as being semi-common. There were a lot of magazine ads for them at the time too. I'm sort of surprised, like Cowtown Commander, that 91,000 were sold in '59.

GM actually did their marketing research on compact cars in 1958. The best selling import was by far the VW Beetle, followed by second best seller, the Dauphine, both rear-engined cars. That is what prompted GM to make the Corvair rear-engined.

Craig

RadioRoy
09-01-2017, 02:21 PM
City horn... beep beep
Country horn... beeeep, beeeep

A high school buddy had one in 1966. The inside door handles were plastic "and not space age plastic" he used to say after they broke off in his hand. :)

Dwain G.
09-01-2017, 02:43 PM
When I first started working in import car repair in the 1960s there were a lot of those little critters around. By the seventies not so much. For repairs it was pretty easy to pull engine and trans with axles and wheels as a unit making a 'Smokey Stover' car. :D

Corvanti
09-01-2017, 02:58 PM
my first vehicle was a '63 Dauphine. bought it in late 1970 when i was 15 for $50. no rust problems since i was in So-Cal. rebuilt the 833cc water cooled engine before i was 16. (Dad supervised to make sure i didn't mess up).;)

while it was slow, it was ok around town but forget about it on the Interstate. it would take over a mile to barely get to 60 mph and would overheat.

i sold it that summer for $150 and bought a '62 Valiant slant six w/3 on the tree for $135. what an improvement!

Bordeaux Daytona
09-01-2017, 03:55 PM
City horn... beep beep
Country horn... beeeep, beeeep

A high school buddy had one in 1966. The inside door handles were plastic "and not space age plastic" he used to say after they broke off in his hand. :)

I remember that line about the horn from a car video I have somewhere

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWSrG0VNFKo

Hubley made a promo and a model kit of a Dauphine for a few years, I'd like to get one.

https://images.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http%3A%2F%2Fimages.bidorbuy.co.za%2Fuser_images%2F328%2F2168328%2F2168328_13 1121203845_DSCF3167.JPG&f=1

RadioRoy
09-01-2017, 04:43 PM
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-50s-60s-Hubley-Renault-Dauphine-Customizing-Model-Car-Kit-with-Box-Promo-/352153349713?hash=item51fdf9ae51:g:gJwAAOSwdYlZpLPP

https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw=Dauphine&_osacat=220&_from=R40&_trksid=p2045573.m570.l1313.TR8.TRC2.A0.H0.Xrenault+Dauphine.TRS0&_nkw=renault+Dauphine&_sacat=220

Scott
09-01-2017, 05:05 PM
Hahaha. I still don't understand how a critical part like an inner door handle isn't mandated to be made of metal by the government. They've regulated everything else in the car including things that probably aren't safety related. It could be the difference between life and death and yet everybody seems to be OK with plastic.



City horn... beep beep
Country horn... beeeep, beeeep

A high school buddy had one in 1966. The inside door handles were plastic "and not space age plastic" he used to say after they broke off in his hand. :)

t walgamuth
09-01-2017, 06:36 PM
Our minister had a renault caravelle....and a Chrysler Imperial. ;)

RadioRoy
09-01-2017, 11:50 PM
There was a Caravelle around the corner from me for years - and a Javelin, too.

Lynn
09-01-2017, 11:54 PM
My Dad drove a Renault Daulphine in the mid to late 60's. What a pos. Always tinkering with it. Finally gave up on it in 68.

Noxnabaker
09-02-2017, 04:10 AM
1:st car I had was a -61 Flouride, bought it of a friend for $50 then I had 4 more cars before the license & 1:st car with new license was a Peugeot 404, had 5 crashes first 2 weeks (the second last one into a oak tree, had to get fenders, hood & front from the scrapyard then) before the engine siezed on x-mas day but it was packed snow & summer tires so I only thought it was strange that it was so quite suddenly... when it happened I was on my way to buy my 1:st US car, like Corvanti it was a -62 Valiant but that's a story by itself... ;)

packard352
09-02-2017, 04:44 AM
It was a French car built for European roads. My father had two Dauphines in his time, great little car for UK roads. He had also owned two Studebakers; '56 Golden Hawk and a '57 Silver Hawk. The Silver Hawk didn't last long - it was a slow dog and forever on the ramps with a mechanic under it! So, what's the difference between them? It's all about personal preference.

Oh yeah, he also bought a white Pontiac Le Mans off the London Motor Show stand - remember that car well... another Friday dog that also broke down all the time. In fact, we drove back from Bournemouth to London (half of it in reverse) with my father depositing the car at the dealers the very next day. He ordered a brand new Plymouth Fury and the dealership gave him an Austin Cambridge (grey with red leather interior), which he bough and gave to my grandmother.

So, a few tales from across the pond. I should also add, he owned a '61 Oldsmobile 98 (black with red interior) - great car, but impossible to keep clean, especially after it had been polished and then rained on!

57pack
09-02-2017, 09:33 AM
Friend of mine owned a Renault Caravelle for many years. Finally it succumbed to a infestation of the dreaded rust mites.
Had a customer who owned and drove a pair of MG Magnette Veritone ZB Saloons well into the 1990's. He drove one and wife drove the other. They loved those cars, although one suffered the Lucas "Prince of darkness" curse more so than the other. He finally decided to replace the wiring harness, located an NOS one in Abington. Flew to London and drove over to Abington and purchased the harnesss.

spokejr
09-02-2017, 12:05 PM
Hahaha. I still don't understand how a critical part like an inner door handle isn't mandated to be made of metal by the government. They've regulated everything else in the car including things that probably aren't safety related. It could be the difference between life and death and yet everybody seems to be OK with plastic.

Actually, there are durability mandates on items such as door handles in this day and age. Back then, there were very few regulations. You might even thank Renault (and others) for making those early handles, contributing to the current regulations. The material isn't what is mandated, only uv and heat resistance as well as cycling and ultimate load capability exceeding potential load placed on handle.

8E45E
09-02-2017, 01:54 PM
Actually, there are durability mandates on items such as door handles in this day and age. Back then, there were very few regulations. You might even thank Renault (and others) for making those early handles, contributing to the current regulations. The material isn't what is mandated, only uv and heat resistance as well as cycling and ultimate load capability exceeding potential load placed on handle.

Oh really?

Somebody forgot to tell GM that! Especially on their vans!!

Craig

Pat Dilling
09-02-2017, 02:39 PM
I am embarrassed to admit that my dad traded our '53 Studebaker Commander Starliner in on a Dauphine. :-( Not sure if it was a 59 or 60. He needed something economical to drive around town for his insurance business. Had the company name painted on the door. He kept it until '65 and traded it for a new 65 Nova. Things I remember were the Town and Country horns, little switch on the steering column. And a bunch of boy scouts picking it up, carrying it off and hiding it to play a joke on him.

Noxnabaker
09-02-2017, 04:47 PM
Early Nova's I think is the best Chevys ever made, had a few.
But as reply to Richard, I've got a few pals in England, Ireland & Scotland & I can say that the northern Europe/Scandinavian roads wasn't to small for American cars, as my "Brittish" pals tells me is the reason why you never saw many of them there.
Norway was a bit late in road-building thou.
One other thing to make it clearer is that I bought a -62 Savoy 4door slant6 & 3speed column & "no power stuff at all" once, used to be a sales mans car & when starting at 1:st gear it was like any other cars 2_nd gear, guess the fuel consumption on that one & only 1600kg weight, I reckon that wouldn't work in Uk in those days, right?