Renault Dauphine Gordini: European rally star. Armstrong 500 champion.

21 December 2018

In 1960, the same year Holden racing great Des West drove a 48-215 at Gnoo Blas in the first (single-race) Australian Touring Car Championship, he also teamed with Ian ‘Pete’ Geoghegan in this Renault Dauphine in the first Armstrong 500. The little French car clearly needed more speed – Gordini had the answer.

There was a time in the 1950s when numerous car brands saw a rear-engine-rear-wheel-drive layout as the ideal mechanical template for small cars. One of these was Renault with its Dauphine sedan, which became the French marque’s first model to offer a hot ‘Gordini’ variant that proved to be a potent competition car in numerous countries - including Australia.

The Dauphine, launched in 1956, was immediately successful in European rally events, most notably Italy’s famous 1000-mile (1600km) Mille Miglia road race where a factory-entered team of five Dauphines fitted with special five-speed gearboxes filled the first four places in class.