History of the Renault Dauphine: A “stamp of Paris” in Colombia

Those who lived in the 1960s and 1970s are perhaps reminiscent of the Renault Dauphine, a small French-style car that, because it was not configured for our territory, had a debatable reputation for overheating and gait instability . No details of his commercial life in the country were known, until the Internet showed the press archives of the time. Imported by the company Auto Andes, this car was announced “with great fanfare” in our country in August 1960 . In that limited automotive market of the time, the diamond brand wanted to have a place with its vehicles that, due to the context of that time, were considered too fragile and small . However, its rear engine and traction design gave the Renault Dauphine an agility that none of the heavy and huge American cars could boast.

Dauph … What?

The Renault Dauphine premiered in Europe in 1956. Its premise was to present an alternative family transport, elegant and popular at the same time, simple mechanics and construction and economy in its purchase and use, characteristics that would make it very accessible to all audiences. However, because of its design and style, it was considered a car focused on female taste. Basically, it was an “all back” sedan with front trunk, cab and rear engine: the famous “Venous” engine of 845 cc and 33 horsepower , mechanical base of several generations of the brand’s models. It also boasted great economy: 66 km / gallon according to measurements of the time. Rounded strokes inspired in large part in the 4CV, had details “fine coquetry” as woven upholstery, sliding rear windows, panoramic rear enclosed , and spare tire under the hood and behind the front license plate. renault dauphine, renault dauphine colombia, renault dauphine history, Renault dauphine 1961, renault dauphine for sale, renault dauphine rally, renault dauphine 1960, renault dauphine aero stable, renault dauphine features, auto andes, auto andes renault, auto andes bogota, auto andes renault bogota Even with its particular characteristics, the Dauphine performed successfully in the sports field, triumphing in various competitions that motivated the development of high performance versions such as the Dauphine Gordini and R1093 . In addition, it was the first Renault that tested an electric motor, at that time as a particular development made in the United States, very far from reaching mass production.

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In exchange for coffee…

Already in the subject that concerns us, which is his arrival in Colombia, it should be remembered that since 1952 the firm Auto Andes had taken the representation of Renault for the country. This company brought the 4CV and Frégate , through the modality of commercial exchange of vehicles for coffee . In the middle of a very sombre political panorama, the Government of Colombia prohibited in 1957 the importation of new automobiles for private use. For this reason, the importing companies reoriented their businesses to the offer of vehicles for travelers abroad, as well as technical service and sale of spare parts, or chassis for buses. Between 1958 and 1960, Auto Andes offered the Renault Dauphine for sale to those who traveled to Europe, where they could buy it and resell it when they returned, with a minimum depreciation. But in April 1960 the great news came: the importation of new vehicles for private use was reopened. renault dauphine, renault dauphine colombia, renault dauphine history, renault dauphine 1961, renault dauphine for sale, renault dauphine rally, renault dauphine 1960, renault dauphine aero stable, renault dauphine features, auto andes, auto andes renault, auto andes bogota, auto andes renault bogota

The “insolent” car

With the reopening of imports, the importing and marketing firms of vehicles resumed their work, and Auto Andes was no exception. Thus, on May 11, 1960, it was announced to the country that the Renault Dauphine would arrive imported to Colombia for private use in the coming months, in a market in which the enormous American cars prevailed. In its advertising, the new model was presented as a vehicle “brioso”, “insolent”, “economic”, “familiar” and other names that invited to know him highlighting its benefits compared to other cars of the time. Of course, they did not forget the most remarkable of its characteristics: its French origin , so it was identified as a “Seal of Paris” . The main competitor of the Renault Dauphine in Colombia was the Volkswagen Beetle. Until then, the German was the only European model of popular court that was sold in our midst. renault dauphine, renault dauphine colombia, renault dauphine history, renault dauphine 1961, renault dauphine for sale, renault dauphine rally, renault dauphine 1960, renault dauphine aero stable, renault dauphine features, auto andes, auto andes renault, auto andes bogota, auto andes renault bogota During June and July of 1960, Auto Andes exhibited a Dauphine at its headquarters on Agenda las Américas with Carrera 25A , in Bogotá, seeking to generate some expectation among potential buyers to start what today would be called a “pre-sale” . Each visitor of the dealership could separate his car, paying a certain value as an advance. The big day has arrived. On August 17, 1960, a lot of 280 units of the Renault Dauphine arrived from France to the port of Cartagena, already as 1961 models. To meet the demand, Auto Andes organized a network of dealers in several cities of the country, with its own branches in the largest, and commercial representatives in the smallest.

The distribution system was curious, although common in those years. The vehicles arrived from Cartagena to Bogota and Medellin by air , and from those cities by land (by their own means) to the rest of the country. Another ship with 220 more units arrived on August 19, thus fulfilling the quota of 500 units that the Government granted to the importer. When the first batch arrived, most units were already sold. The clients paid an introductory price of $ 25,895 , equivalent to 130.8 minimum wages of the time (about $ 105,000,000 currently). In addition, Auto Andes granted the buyer a six-month warranty for factory failures. renault dauphine, renault dauphine colombia, renault dauphine history, renault dauphine 1961, renault dauphine for sale, renault dauphine rally, renault dauphine 1960, renault dauphine aero stable, renault dauphine features, auto andes, auto andes renault, auto andes bogota, auto andes renault bogota Thus, began a major commercial offensive in which Auto Andes sought to position the Dauphine throughout the country, obtaining good results. For the Christmas of 1960, a financing plan was launched based on the payment of 30% of the value of the car as initial payment, canceling the balance to 18 months. However, if the payment was made in cash, a 5% discount was granted on the invoiced price. To deal with the after-sales service, Auto Andes brought specialized technicians from the Reggie Renault of France, who trained Pan auto mechanics , a Ford dealer with great renown in those years who provided support to the importing firm.

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To the races

Already in 1961, the sales of the vehicle marched very well and as it did in the rest of the world, it emphasized in the automotive competitions . For the Colombian case, its main scenario was the San Diego Circuit , of which it was the winner under the command of Guillermo Pieschacón , Pan auto workshop manager and Dauphine connoisseur. In his book “Living to the races”, the renowned journalist José Clopatofsky described this car as “unstable” and “dangerous” . This, despite the fact that the units that arrived in the country were equipped with the Aero stable Suspension , which was intended to compensate for the vehicle’s failures in this field. This system incorporated bell-shaped rubber parts located at the base of the front shock absorbers, and back, air cushions located between the upper crossbar and the tubes corresponding to the transmission shafts. Very much in spite of this technology, the Dauphine could never improve its stability of march . renault dauphine, renault dauphine colombia, renault dauphine history, renault dauphine 1961, renault dauphine for sale, renault dauphine rally, renault dauphine 1960, renault dauphine aerostable, renault dauphine features, auto andes, auto andes renault, auto andes bogota, auto andes renault bogota

End of commercial life

In this way, the Renault Dauphine achieved some notoriety in the incipient and rudimentary national automotive market. There is no certainty of when its import was canceled, but it must have been around 1964 or 65 , because in the advertising of the brand for Colombia in 1966, this model is no longer mentioned. In any case, the Dauphine was available in Europe until 1967 and its last unit was produced in Argentina, where its presence extended until 1970 . Currently, very few units and in a regular state survive in the country . They are desired by collectors and for sure, sooner or later models restored locally will appear.