On the road

Classic Sports Car - - Buyer’s Guide -

Low weight and low gear­ing give the Dauphine a lively feel if the en­gine is in good fet­tle; a worn en­gine and/or car­bu­ret­tor means lack­lus­tre per­for­mance (check also for ex­haust smoke and oil leaks). The camshaft is driven by a chain of three gears, the mid­dle one fi­bre to keep noise down – if the geartrain is noisy, the fi­bre gear is fail­ing. A full en­gine re­build shouldn’t cost more than £1500 and parts are read­ily avail­able, but a cracked block is ex­pen­sive to re­pair.

Trans­mis­sions im­proved sig­nif­i­cantly dur­ing pro­duc­tion and you have to be a purist to like the orig­i­nal three-speed with­out syn­chro on first; four-speeds are much more us­able. The op­tional Ferodo-made Fer­lac elec­tro-mag­netic clutch is clever and there’s no need to avoid it; club ex­perts know how to set it up. If en­gage­ment is abrupt, it needs to be re­aligned soon.

Electrics were 6V un­til 1962 and are per­fectly ad­e­quate if kept in good fet­tle (low-en­ergy LEDS can help), but later cars’ 12V sys­tems are bet­ter and cheaper to main­tain.

Rub­ber-cone aux­il­iary springs (Aerostable sus­pen­sion) were added in late 1959 on French cars, from mid-1960 on British-built ones, along­side softer coil springs. This was meant to al­low com­pli­ance for un­laden and fully laden con­di­tions (a full load of pas­sen­gers and lug­gage weighs half as much again as the car it­self), but was not a great suc­cess and was aban­doned for 1962. The rub­ber cones are hard to find now, so con­ver­sion to stan­dard sus­pen­sion may be wise.

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