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.”
Photos by Florian GroutCutting Room Floor