Update 26-06-2015: The Caravelle is back on eBay again and has been listed with no reserve. Current bidding is at £3,600 with just over eight days remaining. The new eBay listing can be found here. Can’t believe no one has bought this cool racer.
Update 04-03-2015: The Caravelle has been relisted after a typical trigger finger Buy it Now incident. The seller has updated the listing and states the car has a 1100cc engine that has been bored out to 1300cc with a 40 Weber carb. The suspension has been lowered and stiffened with increased negative camber on the rear. The new eBay listing can be found here.
The Renault Caravelle was a rear engined convertible/coupe which was launched in 1958 to compete against the popular Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. Designed by Pietro Frua of Ghia, the Caravelle was based on the successful Renault Dauphine saloon platform which also had a rear mounted engine. Renault originally wanted to call their new car “Floride” after the US state where the concept was envisaged during a dealer convention. However research found the name wouldn’t work in the US so Caravelle was chosen instead. This name was used in English speaking countries around the world (including the UK) with Floride being retain for the European market.
Power was provided by a 845cc four cylinder water cooled engine which came from the Dauphine. Fed by a single Solex carb, early models produced 37BHP which was increased to 40BHP in 1959. Power was sent to the rear wheels via a three speed transmission which was offered along with a four speed on the coupe model. An new 956cc engine arrived in 1962 producing 48BHP which grew to 1108cc in 1964, producing 55BHP. 1962 also saw the Caravelle receive disc brakes all round, the first French volume production car to receive such an upgrade.
When launched it debuted a new suspension system, known as the Aerostable suspension. Developed by Jean Albert Grégorie, it had rubber cushions on the front and rear axles, which acted as additional springs. This helped improve handling and cornering speeds. By 1968 production came to an end with 117,000 being sold during it’s ten year life span.
The Renault Caravelle on offer is a 1963 model and is claimed to be the only Caravelle racer in the world. Imported to the UK in 2013 from the west coast of the United States, the owner modified the convertibles roll cage and added a rare hardtop to improve the cars looks (photos show the car in the US prior to hardtop addition).
The listing also states that the radiator was returned to it’s original rear location having been placed in the front of the car in the US. No details about the engine size or power are given but the seller does state that the engine has been rebuilt by Radco Engineering who specialise in race builds. The seller also notes that the car will need a check over and the engine will need new belts and a fire extinguisher before any racing is undertaken. No details are given on the suspension setup or braking though we assume these have been upgraded from the standard 1960s spec. A spare set of Mag wheels are included with the car along with some other spares.
This has to be one of the coolest historic racing Renaults we’ve ever seen. The Caravelle was always an attractive car in both cabriolet and coupe guise. It had sleek lines and handled well for a car of its size. It was never a particularly powerful car and never received the 104BHP Gordini engine that was available in the Renualt 8. This makes the decision to turn this Caravelle into a racer all the more interesting.
Adding the hardtop was a good move by the owner as it now looks even better. The white on red is a good combination and really suits the car. As it has a Caravelle S badge and is from 1963, we assume it has a Sierra 1108cc engine. These produced 56BHP in standard form so we expect this has been increased significantly with the upgrades carried out by Radco Engineering. Obviously this would need to be confirmed. The engine bay looks clean with what look like twin side draft Webers.
We’d love to take this Renault Caravelle for a blast round a track to see how it performs and to hear that rear engined exhaust note. It would make an interesting choice as a historic racer and would be a conversation piece at any race meet.
The current bid is £2,050 with a Buy it Now price of £14,750. Six days remain on the auction.