1950s / 1960s / French / Renault

What’s a Renault Dauphine police car doing in rural Louisiana?

ranwhenparked-renault-dauphine-police-car-louisiana-9A couple of summers ago, I took advantage of a work trip to New Orleans, Louisiana, to spend a few weeks exploring the Pelican State. As I meandered through the bayou region behind the wheel of a rented Hyundai, I expected to find moss-covered mid-1960s Chevrolet Impalas and classic pickup trucks with decades of battle scars still working for a living. Surprisingly, one of the first classics I came upon was a U.S.-spec Renault Dauphine police car parked in front of a hotel in Houma.

What the hell is a Dauphine police car doing in Louisiana? Intrigued, I turned around to get a closer look. The Dauphine was painted in the same two-tone black and white livery seen on many American police cars during the 1960s, and the word “POLICE” was clearly written on the hood, on the deck lid, and on both front doors. “POLICE K-9 UNIT” and “CALL 911” lettering and an A-pillar-mounted spotlight added a credible touch to the overall look.

However, I’m not an expert on classic police cars by any means but it seems like the name of the county it was owned by should have been prominently displayed somewhere — on the doors, for example. Maybe it was covered up before the car was sold to a private owner? Or, maybe that’s what the number 00707 painted at the base of both A-pillars refers to?

Real or not, the Dauphine had seen better days, though it was about 95-percent complete and surprisingly solid for a car ending its life in a extraordinarily humid climate.. in other words, I’ve seen worse in drier areas. It had no license plates and no registration stickers so I wasn’t able to tell how long it’d been off the road for, but it evidently hadn’t moved under its own power in a number of years. Interestingly, it was sitting on stock Dauphine steel wheels wrapped by Uniroyal temporary spare tires.

Can anyone provide more information about this car? Was there really a police department using a Renault Dauphine as a patrol car in southern Louisiana, or was there simply a dude in Houma with leftover paint in his garage?

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10 thoughts on “What’s a Renault Dauphine police car doing in rural Louisiana?

  1. Pingback: Four-Links – VW bus rescue, the massive Pipe, cop Renault, year of the monkey | Hemmings Daily

  2. Louisiana – Cajun? – French links? – maybe somebody appreciated the autos from “the old country” back then and went Renault in the Louisiana Highway Patrol ha ha?

  3. I would assume a recreation of something that never existed. Just someone with a Dauphine, some paint, and a Cop car fixation. The 911 references are too new to be of the era for the car itself, and a real police vehicle would have the city information on it as well. Fun, but not real.

  4. I agree with JFrank that this is likely something somebody just did for fun. However, a Renault Dauphine police car would not be without precedent. I give you this press photo from the Hutchinson [Kansas] News, Sept 5 1961:

    The article pasted on the back states that the Attica, Kansas police department decided a Dauphine was perfect for their only patrol car. The only paved road in town was the county highway, and anyone who disregarded the speed limit sign entering town would start slowing down the moment they saw the flashing red light. As for the locals, the officer stated he knew nearly everyone in town, if he saw them speeding he could drive to their house and give them a ticket when they got home. A big V-8 powered sedan, they felt, would just waste money on gas and tires.

    These days compacts are usually used for parking enforcement.

    A few more compact alternatives can be seen here:

    http://s382.photobucket.com/user/RedRam331/slideshow/Vintage%20Photos%20of%20Police%20Cars/Compact%20police%20cars

  5. Pingback: Four-Links – VW bus rescue, the massive Pipe, cop Renault, year of the monkey (bike) - Car Classix

  6. 911 wasn’t used at all until 1968 and not adopted by American municipalities until the 1970s. Therefore, I think someone painted it for fun.

  7. Maybe it was created a few years ago by the county/city for a school program to teach children about the police and 911. Since they were teaching children they decided on a “cute” car

  8. Hasn’t anyone ever seen the Peter Sellers movie, “A shot in the dark”!! A police car very similar to this one is used by inspector Cluso in several scenes.

  9. Renault Dauphines were popular cars with the Paris City Police in the late 50s, early 60s. And they indeed were black and white, like all the City police cars of that time, and nicknamed ‘Magpie Cars’

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