(first posted 8/12/2014) During the Great US Import Boom of the 1950s, the Renault Dauphine was the only car that really gave the VW a run for its money. In 1958, it actually outsold the Beetle in eleven states, and had a lot of momentum. In 1959, over 100k Dauphines were sold here. But its fragility and lack of dealer support quickly caught up with it, and when the Import Boom turned Bust in 1960, Dauphine sales evaporated in a reddish cloud of iron oxide.
Renault hung in there, and its rear-engined Dauphine evolved into the boxy R8, and then the R10, the final evolution of a line that had started with the 4CV in 1947. These cars make an interesting comparison on a number of levels, as they are similar in some respects, yet so decidedly different in others. Car and Driver did a comparison of the two in 1967, the only one I’m aware of. We already know how the big-picture story ended, but the charms of the R10 were nevertheless very compelling.