The Renault Dauphine A Competitor to the Volkswagen Beetle in the United… — 2014 Volkswagen The Beetle

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2014 Volkswagen The Beetle

The Renault Dauphine: A Competitor to the Beetle in the United States

catalog for the Renault Dauphine,

In the late 1950s and early the Volkswagen Beetle was the top selling car in the United States. But the much-loved import did not lack for competition. this time period, a number of foreign automakers to penetrate the American market and did so varying degrees of success. those jockeying for position in the marketplace was Renault, an internationally French automaker based in France. During the late 1960s, the French firm a car that was for a short time the Beetle’s most serious in the United States: the Renault

Trade catalog cut-away of the Renault Dauphine’s interior,

First introduced at the 1956 Auto Show, the Renault was a small economy sedan to compete directly with the Beetle. The Dauphine and Beetle had design characteristics in common. cars employed a rear-engine, drive setup and both equipped with swing-axle rear suspension. In most respects, the Dauphine was designed to be a modern alternative to the Beetle. of an air-cooled engine like found in the Beetle, the Dauphine was with a water-cooled inline-4 which displaced 845 cc (51.5 inches) and was good for 30 horsepower. A manual transmission came but the Dauphine could also be with a Ferlec automatic which permitted gear without a clutch pedal. In to the Beetle’s two-door body, the featured an arguably more four-door body shell. also offered a performance of the Dauphine tuned by Amédée which came equipped a more powerful engine for 37.5-40 horsepower) and a four-speed transmission.

The Dauphine made its American at the 1956 New York Auto When a sharp recession hit the States in 1957, sales of the unexpectedly took off and it became the Beetle’s most serious American customers were by Dauphine’s cute looks, low price ($1,645 in 1957) and gas mileage (claimed to be capable of 40 miles per gallon). Led by the Dauphine, became the #2 selling import in the United States in 1957, a it would hold for several

Trade catalog for the Renault 1960s

Although the Dauphine was well received by the American public, owners soon disenchanted with this The Dauphine was widely criticized for too slow and underpowered for American conditions. Unlike its competitor, the Beetle, the Dauphine earned a for being a low-quality car. owners found the Dauphine to be troublesome and its body prone to Also in contrast to Volkswagen, lacked a well-organized American network for servicing its cars. combination of factors caused American sales to drop from a peak of 91,073 in to 12,106 in 1966. The Dauphine was from the American market in and Renault ceased production of it in


More than 200,000 Dauphines were imported to the States between 1956 and Even though a significant of them were brought to shores, surviving examples are seen today.

Covello, Standard Catalog of Imported 1946-2002 ; Iola, Wisconsin: Publications, 2002, p. 675,

2014 Volkswagen The Beetle

Dauphine, Renault . Renault: Catalogs: Specific Models: Alpine, Caravelle, Dauphine, and Encore, ca. 1950s-1986, Z. Taylor Collection, Hagley Museum and

Dauphine, Renault, Régie . Renault: Trade Catalogs: Models: Alliance, Alpine, Dauphine, Eight, and Encore, ca. Z. Taylor Vinson Collection, Museum and Library.

Georgano, ed. The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile; 2: M-Z ; Norwich, England: The Stationery 2000, p. 1318-1319.

Ward’s Automotive Yearbook, Twenty-Second ; Detroit, Michigan: Ward’s Yearbook, 1960, p. 177.

Jaehnig is the Project Archivist for the Z. Vinson Collection at Hagley and Library.

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2014 Volkswagen The Beetle
2014 Volkswagen The Beetle
2014 Volkswagen The Beetle
2014 Volkswagen The Beetle
2014 Volkswagen The Beetle
2014 Volkswagen The Beetle

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