Better Than It Looks – 1963 Renault Caravelle

After yesterday’s Mercedes 250 feature, here’s another car that’s not afraid to go slow. Don’t rush me, it says, I still need to have a croissant with un petit cafe, light une cigarette, and check on this year’s grape harvest. For 1962, the Floride, based on the Dauphine, was moved onto the R8 platform, and upgraded with a 956cc Sierra engine for a blustering 48hp – reasonably competitive with cars like the VW Karmann Ghia, Triumph Spitfire/Herald, and Fiat 850. However, it was one of the biggest and likely heaviest cars in its class. Nonetheless, how many other Ghia/Frua designed cars can you find at this price point? Check out this 1963 Renault Caravelle for sale with bidding at $2125, reserve not met, and less than one day left to go in Lake Worth, FL.

1963 Renault Caravelle right front

Okay, you’re thinking, why is this worth my attention? It’s just another beat-up, faded Caravelle that’s been sitting in someone’s front yard, getting baked by the sun and rusted by the humidity. Well, not so fast, buddy. First of all, as an early Caravelle, it appears to have the more swoopy Floride roof – Caravelle hardtops had a much more vertical backlight. Also, the paint looks like it hasn’t been polished through, so maybe a good wet sanding would get you pretty far. Okay, so you’ll still need to have it in for a nose job, but you can either grab a parts car and teach yourself to weld on a very visible area of the car (that never went wrong), or drop it at a shop and… wait, where’s the local paintless dent removal guy when we need him?

1963 Renault Caravelle interior

Okay, here’s another place where you can see this car is not just someone’s neglected yard art – look at those seats, and the carpet, the crack-free dash, and the golf-ball shift knob that’s an actual golf ball. Numbers on the speedometer seem to have melted in the Florida heat, but that’s not an uncommon affliction, for which a fix is perhaps available in France.

1963 Renault Caravelle left rear

Things look better back here – you have to love the 3-bolt wheels, elegant roofline, and the fact the Caravelle got 4-wheel disc brakes. This car is said to have been stored indoors for many years, and is now available from the owner’s estate. There is of course some rust – in the rockers, and in the frunk floor, part of which has been cut out. But think of the number of times you’ll get to say frunk if you’ve had it fixed.

1963 Renault Caravelle engine

The engine does look pretty clean – perhaps not like an engine that’s seen regular use, but not neglected or full of spiders/mice – maybe the snakes took them out. You’ll want to bring along a large socket and torque wrench just to make sure the Florida humidity has not made it seize up. All fun aside, this car does look like it’s a step above the standard Caravelle – a little mechanical attention could have it drivable enough to focus on the body’s needs.

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