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1960 Renault Caravelle

1960 Renault Caravelle


The Renault Caravelle is a sports car manufactured and marketed by Renault for model years 1958–1968 in a single generation — as a rear-engine, rear-drive open two/four-seater designed by Pietro Frua of Carrozzeria Ghia, using the floorpan and engine of the Renault Dauphine.

Renault was envious of the growing success in North America of the Volkswagen Bug/Beetle and were looking for ways they might match the Volkswagen's success with their own Renault Dauphine. At a convention of North American distributors that took place in Florida, Renault's US dealers called for the creation of a Dauphine coupé/cabriolet which would improve Renault's image in the critical US market. Renault's chairman, Pierre Dreyfus, agreed, and since the concept had been born at a convention in Florida the car instantly became known within the company as the "Renault Floride".

The "Floride" name was considered unsuitable for 49 of the 50 states of the U.S., however, since it could have implied disrespect to states other than Florida. For this reason an alternative name, "Caravelle", was from the start used for North America and for other major markets (including the UK) where the principal language was a form of English.

When the car arrived in the U.S. a couple of months later, it was badged not as the Floride — the French word for the state of Florida — but as the Caravelle — the French word for the small but fast ships the Portuguese and Spanish used as they explored around the world in the 15th century.

Renault may have figured that people living in California or Connecticut might not want a car named for Florida, or maybe the success of another nautically named sports car, Chevrolet’s Corvette, contributed to the name change.

The Caravelle came over from France in three versions — a cloth-top convertible, a hardtop convertible with a removable hardtop, and coupe.

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