5k: Smile Machine: 1959 Renault Dauphine

There is something about the ability of a car with a smile on its face to put a smile on your face.  Nobody did a better car face than Renault with their Dauphine – the French answer to the VW Beetle, Fiat 500 and Morris Minor.  The Dauphine has a pleasantly mustached front end with a preposterous bass mouth grin instead of the evil smile of the evil frown on its cousin —the R8.  Find this 1959 Renault Dauphine for sale in Paradise, CA for $4,200 via craigslist.

The Dauphine uses a rear-engine rear-drive setup similar to the VW Beetle, but it eschews the aircooled flat-4 setup and instead runs a more conventional inline-4 watercooled setup…but the Ventoux engine is anything but conventional when examined closely.

image credit: Aviator12 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Renault_Ventoux_engine_%281956%29.jpg

The Renault Ventoux is a odd duck – uses a three main bearing cast iron crankcase with an aluminum head that houses a laterally setup camshaft that actuates the valves and spins a cooling fan located on the flywheel side of the engine.  Power was something around 30hp (it varies across many internet sites) and it should keep up with a contemporary VW Beetle or Fiat 500.

The interior of this Dauphine looks to need more work than the exterior – but this is a car you could just drive as is and enjoy the patina, or (as recommended by Bobinott in our last Dauphine post) pour money into it and create a Gordini tribute.  Personally, I’d add mud flaps, rally stickers and cover the front end in a few vintage Cibies.

See a cooler Frenchwagen Freetle?  tips@dailyturismo.com