Renault Dauphine Gordini (1957 – 1967)

French style with sporting prowess

It was in 1956 that Renault launched the Renault Dauphine Gordini at the Salon International de L’auto in Geneva. This cute little saloon was an instant success and soon became the first Renault to sell over 2 million cars.  Its Achilles heel at the time was its lack of power compared to such rivals as the Volkswagen Beetle, giving away 10 bhp which may not seem a lot but this amounted to a loss of 25% power.

Renaults answer to this was the sporty Dauphine Gordini. Utilising the skills of the French sports performance tuner Gordini for the first time in a production car was a confident step forward for Renault and in actual fact resulted in full ownership of the Gordini name in 1977.

Along with the spritely version of the pretty saloon came motorsport success adding further provenance to its name, with the Renault Works Rally Gordini winning the 1957 Tulip Rally, the 1958 Monte Carlo Rally and the 1959 Alpine Rally to name but a few.

The Renault Dauphine Gordini changed very little over its 11 year life span but with original features such as all round disc brakes and Ferlec transmission on some models giving finger touch gear change, it was always ahead of its time.

Years Produced1957 - 1967
Performance0 - 60mph 23.0sec / Top Speed - 80mph
Power & Torque40bhp / 48Ib ft
Engine845cc / four cylinder / 8 valves
Drive-trainRear engine RWD
TransmissionThree and four speed manual / Three speed automatic

The Sixties delivered a new direction in practical motoring and the European compact car was at the head of the game. These practical economic cars were the order of the day, not only in Europe but also in America, and the Renault Dauphine took full advantage of this.


Despite the original popularity producing so many Renault Dauphines these days they are a very rare car, especially the Gordini. Finding a good one will probably be a mission and you’ll be paying top dollar due to its rarity. Here’s what to look out for.

The major chink in the Dauphines armour is corrosion. The original build quality wasn’t the greatest and the steel used on the body was paper thin, meaning it will have had repairs or replacement panels in its lifetime. Common problem areas are headlight rings, upper and lower trim, grill surrounds, bumpers, doors, wings, the list goes on. Check underneath the car thoroughly as once again you may find corrosion problems.

The 845 cc engine requires regular oil changes as it doesn’t have an oil filter, so check the documented history. Steer clear of over modified engines as this could cause drive shaft problems. The Gordini was fitted with a stronger transmission from the Renault 8 so gear change should be smooth providing no synchromesh failings. Be sure to check this on the test drive.

Interior trim on the Dauphine is hardwearing but will need to be inspected thoroughly as replacement parts are hard to find. Exterior bright-work is alloy and scarce so make sure there’s nothing missing.

INSURING A Renault Dauphine Gordini (1957 – 1967)

Classic cars of this era are amongst the cheapest to insure, especially with relatively low values. At Heritage Insurance with 50 years experience behind us, we offer a tailor made package for one or more cars. We include both our in-house agreed value service and salvage retention should the worst happen at no extra cost, and with limited mileage and club members discounts our annual fully Comprehensive policy proves excellent value for money. Here are some typical examples of how little your insurance could be.

  • Quotation based on fully comprehensive cover, insured only to drive age 60.

Annual premium – £85.23 with a £100 accidental damage excess.

  • Quotation based on fully comprehensive cover, insured only to drive age 45.

Annual premium – £85.23 with a £100 accidental damage excess.

  • Quotation based on fully comprehensive cover, insured only to drive age 30.

Annual premium – £92.89 with a £100 accidental damage excess.

*NB: All insurance quotes are based on the same criteria: The vehicle being garaged overnight. Accident, claim and conviction free and a limited mileage of 3000 per annum with full use of a main car daily. All quotations are based on an Agreed Value of £8,000. Prices may alter depending on individual criteria. Quote carried out January 2016.


The Renault Dauphine Gordini was originally intended to be called the Corvette, but was changed to Dauphine (the female form of the French feudal title of Dauphin) to avoid confusion with the recently-launched Chevrolet Corvette.

Mark Wilkinson (Managing Partner of Heritage Classic Car Insurance) says

“Post war car production saw huge growth together with a significant rise in the import market. Small cars were big sellers with the sixties expanding on public demand for that something extra, and cars such as the Renault Dauphine Gordini were certain to deliver.”

INSURING A Renault Dauphine Gordini (1957 – 1967)


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