In the late 1950s, Renault was no doubt taking notice of the growing success Volkswagen was enjoying in the United Sates. Searching for ways to capture some of the market that the German company had successfully acquired, Renault needed to do something to get customers to buy more Dauphines. At a convention for North American distributors that was held in Florida, Renault's US dealers asked for a sporty Dauphine coupe or convertible they could sell, which would add excitement to the Renault brand in the critical US market. Renault's chairman, Pierre Dreyfus agreed, and since the idea had been born at a convention in Florida, it was named Floride.
Using the underpinnings from the Dauphine, including the engine, transmission, floor-pan and suspension, Renault called upon Carrozzeria Ghia of Italy to create a unique, glamorous new body. The car was a hit from the moment it first appeared at the 1960 New York auto show, and production continued through the 1968 model year.
This charming and wonderfully presented example was originally delivered to Europe and carries the Floride name that was used only until 1962 when it was dropped in favor of “Caravelle.” Finished in a delightful color scheme of powder blue over a red and gray interior, the color palette reflects the period in which it was produced and enhances the handsome Italian styling. Notable details include the rare, desirable and correct Cibie Optique concave headlamps and a lovely set of silver painted Robergel wire wheels accented with stainless steel center caps wrapped with period-correct wide-whitewall tires, which bring a touch of glamor. According to the most recent owner, this car was in long the long-term care of Radio Star founder René Baldaccini of Marseille, France. The most recent owners acquired it in 2009, commissioning a sympathetic, high-quality restoration of this French jewel shortly thereafter. The powder blue paint shows well and the body is straight and crisp. Chrome and stainless are shiny and bright, and there is a small repair on the front bumper that can be seen on close inspection. Above all, it looks to have been driven sparingly and well-maintained in a loving home since it was imported (appropriately) to Florida by its owner in 2011.
The two-tone red & gray leatherette interior is in excellent condition and is a treat for the eye. Remarkably spacious and comfortable, the cockpit of the Floride is a wonderful place to be. A vintage St. Christopher medal, said to protect travelers, is affixed to the glovebox door adding another touch of character to this lovely French convertible. This car has a black convertible soft top (renewed during the interior restoration), as well as the optional removable hardtop finished in black providing a pleasing contrast the main body color. The factory owner’s manual and copies of the French registration certificate accompany the car.
A look underneath reveals a very clean and rust-free floor pan, clean suspension and mechanical parts consistent with the level of quality and age of the restoration. Beneath the rear-mounted hood sits an 845 cc engine in the desirable Gordini specification, rated for 45 horsepower. The engine compartment is tidy and well-detailed, inviting regular use, while also being appropriate for casual show.
It is easy to be captivated by the Floride’s abundant charm. The colors, style, and glamour of this petite French machine are irresistible, and it is an absolute pleasure to drive – evoking images of a relaxed cruise along the Côte d’Azur. A Renault Floride is a car that is seldom seen at car events, and one that is in this condition with these options and colors rarely come for sale, creating a unique opportunity for the astute collector that desires a usable, stylish 1960s runabout.
Offers welcome and trades considered
Stock number 7506
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