Body By Renault, Heart By Yamaha
Cheap Thrills

Back in September last year, we took a look at a very cool and very low Volkswagen Karmann Ghia built by Adrien Faure of Adri’s Custom in Landivisiau, France, via our IAmTheSpeedhunter program.

We were impressed by Adrien’s handiwork, and on discussing the finer details of that build with him, he introduced us to another one of his custom creations.


You’re looking at a 1964 Renault Dauphine, one of more than two million examples built and sold during the car’s 10-year mid ’50s to mid ’60s production era. Like the Beetle and original Mini, the Dauphine was designed as a cheap, compact and fuel efficient form of transportation, but with a rear-engined and rear-wheel drive layout it was also ripe for competition use.


Adrien picked up this rare export example (with push button 3-speed automatic transmission) in 2014, in complete original condition. He’s left it ‘as found’ too, the Dauphine now proudly displaying its 50-plus years of patina.

If you look past the dulled paint, scratches and dents though, the car is in surprisingly good shape, and would no doubt make a great start point for a full restoration. But Adrien looked at it another way, and set about building the coolest little Dauphine he could while sticking to a very small budget.


The center-exit EMPI Stinger exhaust pipe – something you’d more commonly see out the back of a Volkswagen – and bumper delete front and rear, immediately sets the tone for the build.


Thanks to custom suspension modifications and narrowing of the front beam, the body sits low too, and is set off by a set of Porsche Fuch-style wheels measuring 15×4.5-inch at the front end and a staunch 15×9-inch in the rear for a drag-like stance.


It’s amazing how little is needed to transform the look of a car, but the Dauphine’s outward appearance is only one side of this build. Note the custom stainless steel fuel tank that Adrien fabricated for the front trunk.


Open the rear engine lid and the Renault’s party trick becomes apparent. Gone is the original 32hp, 845cc Ventoux inline-four, and in its place a Yamaha FJ1200 mill. Adrien tells us it’s quite common to see hotted-up Gordini engines in these cars – especially if it’s one reimagined for rally duty – but motorcycle engine conversions aren’t so common.


It’s a nice fit though, and with 124hp on tap from the 1188cc DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder unit, the Dauphine has four times the power it left the factory with. Not that the car’s about speed.

Unlike many conversion of this nature, Adrien retained the Renault’s wiring and simply adapted the Yamaha loom to make it all work, meaning the engine fires up off the car’s original key and ignition switch, which is a neat touch. Retaining originality was high on the agenda, and the rest of the interior is all standard Dauphine export (read: luxury spec) fare. Gear changes through the Yamaha’s 5-speed sequential transmission are made via that handbrake-like lever.


Despite its simplicity and the fact that Adrien didn’t spend a lot of money to achieve what he has, there’s so much to like about this build. It’s got character in spades.

“This is a very good car; I like her,” says Adrien about his creation. “Because she has a original look but a big engine a with particular sound, other people smile when they look at her.”

The Speedhunters

Photos by Florian Grout

Cutting Room Floor



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superbe article et superbe voiture 
ca fait vraiment plaisir de voir ce genre de projet, et surtout ca fait bizarre de voir une renault sur Speedhunters


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Ce n'est pas un hamster


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Cool, une voiture Française sur SH.

Dommage qu'elle ne puisse en aucun cas rouler sur les routes Française sans flipper la maréchaussée.

Well done SH


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That over-run backfire


MasterLudo C'est la question que j'allais poser. Back to English, is it actually possible to register this for road use? I mean if people or even shops are willing to do this, how will it legally run in France? To my experience and from what I've read, it's an absolute nightmare to register it and also to insure. And driving without either of these will get you in jail really quickly here...


MasterLudo Le seul truc qui peut faire avec c'est faire de la piste et encore.


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I'd assume no reverse if they are using the bike transmission....


This is perfect. Absolutely perfect.


im glad you included that last video, the one above it seemed to lack the right amount of hoonage, especially when you have a bike engine.


AngeBaussard MasterLudo bonjour , j'ai rouler sur la route pour aller au boulot par exemple , oui se n'est pas légal et en cas d'accident je risque gros , cependant il faut se faire plaisir , et contourner les lois de temps en temps ... meme si en effet légalement c'est inutilisable sur route ouverte


SpencerTillim hello , it's possible reverse with a electrical starter and neutral gearbox


I'm smiling from ear to ear...too sweet fellas. Adrien has that very cool balance of cool factor + originality. Thanks for sharing! I put this up there with the off-road 2002 and the W8-powered VW K70.


Neat car you've got there, I dig it


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Fantastic little car there. Love the design choices!
But whenever I see one of these air-cooled bike powered cars, I wonder how well the engine will cool. On a bike it's out in free air, but the back of a trunk is a whole different story.


Gorgeous little car!
that sound! o/


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there is an interesting dauphine project in romania as well


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Oh, I love this!! :D For one, I love cars from that era... but the patina outside that doesn't suggest that type of engine... I am smiling a lot looking at this car! What I like as well, is that is still made for cruising instead of  speed. Usually that is the case when a motorcycle engine is added. It is nice to see and know this can be an approach as well!


I done a similare project.ratdini (r8 gordini rad rod) you can see it one YouTube.
But the dauphine ho my god.Soo cool


I'm pretty sure that I saw that exact same car on internet for sale like a year and a half ago (leboncoin)


Option13 i noticed vents on rear wheel fenders ....not 100% sure if its meant for cooling but just assumed .... it would be a different story if caught up in traffic on hot weather


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I hate Speedhunters vids. Nine times out of ten they don't get on the
throttle. That's the only reason to watch a vid is hear the motor
winding out, especially when it's high performance. This is a bike
engine for Christ's sake, quit being a wimp and get on the throttle. It's like you wait during the vid, and wait, and wait, and it ends and you never got to hear the engine.


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She's really nice ! I think it's the first time I like a French customized car, and I'm french. (love R5 or Peugeot 305 too)


like Shawn responded I didn't know that
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VW front beam? VW Swing axle rear?


Fivestudpan no front beam origin tuning , and rear home made


Chri5 Duncan hello , look video in the bonus


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adris custom TheDigitalV3 But why ? :(


So, umm ... no reverse gear?


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adris custom Fivestudpan
Superbe dauphine!
Encore plus impressionant quand on sait a quel point les flic peuvent être chiant et nos lois naze...
Même si j'imagine qu'elle est pas enregistrer celle là!


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RDS Most likely have a reverse gear like Aussie Race Cars that run the same engine, a reversed starter motor connected to the rear axel and you just press the button and voila, reverse gear


oh, that's brilliant!