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Careless words about the Renault Caravelle

January 20, 2015


The sight of a 50-some-year-old French sports car yesterday in East Vancouver drew an involuntary “mon dieu” from my lips.

I’m told that the 1960s French Renault Caravelle was so synonymous with body rot that it should’ve been like my command of the French language — so rusty as to be nonexistent.

Yet there it was and it looked great, condition-wise at least, with only a hint of rust along the very bottom edges of the body panels.

Not the most curvaceous French model I’ve ever seen

This was the first time I’ve seen a Caravelle and styling-wise I thought it looked a bit derivative and awkward — too dull to be French surely! I could’ve been looking at a rare 1960s Soviet sports car (New for 1965: the ZAZ Bysrto! Now with more sportivnyy).

It was definitely a French sports car though. Renault produced the Caravelle between 1958 and 1968.

Outside of North America  it was sold as the Renault Floride. But Renault designed the Caravelle first and foremost to specifically appeal to the American market.

This may help explain why it looks so gauche.


The side scoops of the 1964 Ford Mustang (bottom) and the earlier Caravelle (top).

Unfortunately the Caravelle wasn’t a big success in the United States; it apparently lived up to Renault’s reputation for unreliable build quality.

But the styling may have left its mark.

A dramatic side scoop was a big part of the 1964 Ford Mustang’s signature style but to be fair the Caravelle did it first, just not as well. Click the images to enlarge them.


The Caravelle’s stubbed front end: a bit dull to be blunt.

From → East Vancouver

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