On the road
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.