A 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?