Calling all Francophiles. Hold on to your beret, because today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe candidate hails from the land of Bordeaux, and as far as engines go, this one takes it in the rear.
The Dauphine, introduced in 1956 as a replacement for the 4CV, was originally going to be called the Corvette. In order to prevent consumer confusion between this little rear-engined brie-hauler and a certain fiberglass Chevy, that name was scrapped. The Dauphine was a significantly larger car than its predecessor, with a 6-inch longer wheelbase, and a 12-inch stretch over all, but it still remained petite by American standards. It also received a horsepower bump from 19 to 28 ponies, made possible by enlarging the 750cc water-cooled engine to an espresso-boiling 845cc. This Type 670-1 Ventoux engine, named after the Provençal mountain range, was able to push the little car to 60 in a socialistically languid 32 seconds. Beginning in 1957 Amédée Gordini began modifying the Dauphine four for more power, eventually wringing 55HP from the tiny cheese-whizzer.
The seller of this 1962 Dauphine Deluxe has completely shunned the Ventoux in favor of a 1400cc engine out of an ‘80s Renault Alliance. That makes us partly intrigued by the promise of greater power, and partly revolted by the connection to the questionably-awarded 1983 Motor Trend Car of the Year. This sunroof-equipped Dauphine has also been fitted with a 4-speed transmission out of an R10, and "new rubbers" so we guess you can practice safe sexe while driving.
That 1400 has got to weigh more than the original 845, and as we all know, having all that weight hanging outside of the wheelbase can lead to cornering behavior that is more dramatic than the ending to Les quatre-cents coups. That could result in your realizing a similar level of introspection as portrayed by that film's young protagonist, when you realize you have just spun the little voiture rouge into a tree.
So here's a tres bon Dauphine, not too original, not too whacked, kind of a nicely thought out example of the species. But the question lingers - like the anise and chocolate finish from a sip of 1958 Chateau Pichon Longueville Lalande Bordeaux - is it worth $10,000?
Does this little frog excite you, does it make your eiffel tower? Or does the $10,000 asking price make you want to escargot someplace else?
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