The EXCELLENCE of the RENAULT FLORIDE
ELEGANCE—The Renault Floride in hardtop trim outside the Castle Inn at the charming Berkskirc of Hurst. Here the hospital finagled by William Barker in 1664, which admitted eight patients at 6d. per diem, can be seen. Its foamier was buried in the churchyard
in 16.S t.
IN England if you crave 4 car that has elegance of line and individuality of appearance not found in normal models of a manufacturer’s range you arc obliged to think in terms of an Aston Martin or Bristol Zagato, or a Bentley Continental, and that is going to set you back between j:,4,5oo and 0,900.
1itich cars that might have been driven straight out of the pages of ” Automobile Year ” or one of the glossy Italian motor magazines can do your morale a great deal of good, in much the same way as does a good tailored suit or a hand-sewn pair of shoes.
On the Continent glamorous automobiles are considerably more easy to come by. Abarth, D.B., Bianchina, Innocenti and others build excellent and eve-stopping variants of Fiat, Panhard,. Austin and other makes that are in big-scale production, and Renault and Volkswagen themselves list special-bodied editions of their bread-and-margarine lines, in the Floride and Karmann Ghia, respectively.
I have been enjoying a few clays posing as a gentleman motoring connoisseur behind the wheel of the exceedingly good-looking Renault Floride. The Floride is a luxury 2/4-seater small car, styled by Ghia, which is available in convertible and hard-top form, and also as a fixed-head couN. It is based on the popular Renault Dauphine, which is turned out at the rate of some 1,700 per day. Thus the mechanical ingredients of the Floride are well-proved and in no way expernnental; output of this specialised version, known in its native country as the Caravelle, is abOut 170 a day. The body is beautiful to look at and exceedingly practical. The two separate seats are comfortable, substantial, and leather upholstered. The squab angle is adjustable by setting the bolts on which they rest The picture: below show that England is not without old MOT1101101(S that have survived to the present day. Roth those shown were unveiled on .7une 22nd, 1857, to commenwrate 60 years of Queen Victoria’s reign. That on tlw left is outside White Waltham in Berkshire—a pure water fountain put up at the request of Frances Elizabeth Ellis. On the right is another fountain for draWing.g,ater ft on a 15,500–gallon (70 tons of it) ri’S’eriwir erected by Major Goigkich Hohnesdale Allerev, .7.P., of Wokclield Hall in the parish of Beech Hill, Berkshire. The pietniTS also skew
how neat the Renault Floride looks as a eonvertible,,with hood down.
and they tilt forward for access to the rear seat. There is a folddown back seat able to accommodate one or two persons as occasional passengers and hood and hard-top do not unduly restrict headroom in this back compartment. The facia is crashpadded, the screen top rail likewise, the latter padding being reproduced in the hood rail.
Without being obtrusive there is just a touch of luxury about the paint job, the gold hue of the plating on the wipers’, washers’ and heater–fan controls, and the carpeted floor, and in the small un lockable lidded cubby-hole, and there are quality pockets in both doors (rather obstructed by the window winders and interior handles) and elastic-topped stowages on the inside walls of the scuttle.
The hooded instrumentation is typically Dauphine, comprising-an oddly-calibrated 55-m.p.h. Jaeger Depos-type speedometer with total mileometer lacking decimals (there is no trip), an unsteady and exceedingly pessimistic fuel gauge, temperature gauge and warning lights. There are under-facia courtesy interior lamps. Dauphine ancestry is apparent in the under-facia heater controls, rotary lamps switch, and long slender central gear-lever with rather excessive movements. There is a positive, central hand-brake and the direction flashers, supplemented by pilot flashers on the bonnet sides, are worked by -a 1.h. stalk; they rend to cancel rather too quickly. Also typically Dauphine are the presence of intruding wheel wells in the front compartment and the ignition key aperture against the steering column; this key will lock the steering and is also used for the excellent barrel-door Continued on page 556
THE RENAULT FLORIDE HARD-TOP COUPE
Engine : Four cylinders, 58 x So mm. (845 c.c.). Pushrod-operated overhead valves. 8.0-to-1 compressionratio. 40 b.h.p. (S.A.E.) at 5,000 r.p.m.
Gear ratios : ist,16.22 to I; 2nd, 9.22 to I; 3rd, 6.40 to t; top, 4.68 to r.
T,Vres : 5.5o x 15 Michelin whitewall on bolt-on steel disc wheels. Weight 14 cwt. 2 qtr. (without occupants and hard-top, but ready for the road with just under one gallon of
Steering ratio : 4 turns, lock-to-lock.
Fuel capacity : 7 gallons. (Range : 261.
Wheelbase : 7 ft. si in.
Track : Front, 4 ft. 4 in.; rear, 4 ft. o in. Dimensions : 14 ft. in. .
hard-top in place).
Price : £898 (£1,273 inclusive of purchase tax). Makers : Regie Nationale des USines Renault, Billancourt,
France. Concessionaires : Renault Ltd., Western Avenue, Acton,
ocks incorporated in the exterior door press-buttons. The driver’s door stuck slightly. There are good pivoted finger grips on the window winding handles (4 turns, open to shut) and openable quarter-lights and backside-windows. The clutch pedal goes down a long way and I had to sit closer to the wheel than I like in order not to crunch the gears, but someone slightly taller, or longer in arms and/or legs, shouldn’t experience any difficulty. Equipment includes dual tinted sun vizors, town-and-country horn settings, cigarette-lighter, clever swivel-over ash-tray on the facia sill, and a Motorola radio on which, however, it soon proved impossible even to receive 2L0 !
As soon as we removed the Floride’s low, well-shaped hard-top with its commendably slim pillars yet rigid construction the drought ended in a heavy shower, but the hood is extremely easy to erect, as is the hard-top to attach or remove, and both fit snugly. I give Renault full marks for the excellence of both items of weather equipment.
The hood is of really good quality, has a big, very clear plastic rear window, and it is only necessary to unclip its neat leather cover, pull it out of the well and over the car, after which it can be fixed from within—by engaging two pegs in holes on the screen rail, whereupon levers pull down and lock the hood, which is tensioned by pulling up two similar side levers. It could hardly be easier and, when erect, this is a firm, durable-looking, rigid hood. The hard-top engages the same holes, is locked by operating the same levers, together with a toggle at each side and two pegs at the rear which are secured by turning with a special tommy-bar their locking brackets. Good quality complements clever design in bota departments, so that cover is quickly, easily and satisfactorily obtainable.
In fact, I could enjoy a Floride without buying a hard-top, which saves £79. A few of the hood cover ” poppers ” broke, however, and Renault should consider using a better quality.
There is good luggage accommodation in the lined front-boot and bags of accessibility round the engine in its wide rear compartment, which is lockable. The 2-Spoke steering wheel has side finger-holds, but the column is exposed at its lower end, faintly disconcerting to those hand-sewn shoes especially as the brake pedal is badly placed very close to it. The steering is smooth rather than light, geared 4 turns lockto-lock (plug some sponge), and has quick, very usable castor return action. The Floride floats comfortably over had roads on its Aerostable suspension, can be cornered fast without anxiety, and displays only very faintly, if at all, over-steer disadvantages sometimes associated with a rear .engine location and swing-axle i.r.s,, except for a tendency to wander a little in high winds:
The 845-c.c. engine is in Gordini tune, developing 40 b.h.p. (S.A.E.) but as this is at ,Goo r.p.m. it is necessary to use the gears freely, one might almost write excessively, if any sort of performance is to be enjoyed. Bottom and and gear do provide quite good step-off but 3rd has to be held if acceleration is to be maintained beyond 50 m.p.h., and the engine note can then be somewhat irritating. However, the Renault Floride makes the fiercest driver into a gentleman, who will but seldom push the car to its indicated maxima of 28, 47 and 70 m.p.h. in the indirect ratios. He or she is far more likely to relax, delighting in the quiet 7o-m.p.h. cruising speed, when the subdued tyre hum enhances the sense of well-being which the Floride imparts to those who motor in it. Top speed exceeds So m.p.h. but acceleration is no greater than 40 b.h.p. and a car weighing over 14 cwt. suggest.
The brakes are amply-powerful but call for a fairly heavy prod on the pedal. The Cibie headlamps give excellent night vision.
I returned the Floride to Acton with real reluctance. During my week’s acquaintance with it this beautifully styled and finished little car had increased my social status and caused me to dream of attractive bronze-bodied young women, sun-lit beaches, Parisian boulevards and the flesh-pots of Florida. It’s that sort of automobile, and why not ?
I am not surprised that Florides are appearing in cautious numbers on British roads. It is a somewhat expensive luxury here at £1,273 17s. 6d. inclusive of the pernicious purchase tax in hard-top form (a fixed-head coupe, however, costs £1,238) but it is not expensive to run, for the consumption of premium (as distinct from zoo-octane) petrol worked out at 39 m.p.g under a variety of conditions not conducive to economy, and in nearly 600 miles it consumed only a whiff of oil.
The accompanying pictures will remind you of the car’s graceful lines and both the young-in-years and the young-in-spirit will, I suggest, feel younger still if they have a Floride in their garage.—W. B.