For retired actress and singer Brigitte Bardot, there are plenty of great pleasures in life. She can look back on her long career, and she has many friends and fans supporting her. She’s also got the love of her family, and a great car to drive: a Renault Floride. If you’ve never heard of that car, you’re not alone. A lot of people haven’t, and Renault hasn’t made cars for a while now. But if you want a unique, older car that still runs well and that’s actually affordable for the average person who’s not a celebrity, this could be the car for you. It’s also called the Renault Caravelle, and the name depends on where in the world (literally) you’re located. In some places it was called the Floride until 1962, and in other places it was always called the Caravelle. But it’s a great car no matter what you call it.
Now that Bardot is retired, she has plenty of time to drive her Renault. She’s also an activist for animal rights causes, so she has events to attend and charities to work with that keep her busy. She left the entertainment industry back in 1973, and has kept mostly out of the public eye since that time. But she still has an iconic following and remains a household name in popular culture due to the characters she portrayed when she was in the film industry. In her early life she wanted to be a ballerina, and in 1952 she made her debut in acting. From 1957, when she started in And God Created Woman, she commanded attention for both her beauty and her intelligence. When she retired, she had been in 47 movies, recorded over 60 songs, and had been in several musicals, as well.
With all of that under her belt, she had the option to do whatever she wanted. She could also afford most any vehicle, but saw no reason to have something overly expensive when there were better things she could be doing with her time and money. She was only 38 when she retired, and the last few movies she had made didn’t do as well at the box office. Because of that, Bardot decided it was time to get out in as elegant of a manner as possible, so she retired. She’s a vegetarian, and some of her activism has gotten her some negative publicity and trouble with law enforcement. As she’s gotten older, though, she’s mostly stayed out of the limelight and simply donated to causes that were important to her.
She still has her Renault Floride, as well. That car model was manufactured from 1958 to 1968, and was a single generation production run. That means there were no substantial changes made to it during the 10 years it was available to the public. It’s a rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive car, offered in two and four-seater choices. Until 1962, outside of Britain and North America, it was called the Floride. Everywhere else it was available for sale, it was called the Caravelle. After 1962, it was marked everywhere as the Caravelle, and the Floride name was no longer used. Only 117,000 of the vehicles were produced in the entire 10 years. Essentially, the car was created as a way to answer Volkswagen’s growing segment of the market.
Renault wanted to get in on that, and decided that they could produce a car that would improve their image and compete with Volkswagen for a larger segment of the market. Out of those plans and ideas, the Floride was born. The car was based on the Renault Dauphine, which was another model that the company already had in production. It used a lot of the components from that car, and the same chassis. But the Floride was longer, lower, and wider, and it also offered a different motor. There was a performance version of the car offered, too, with additional horsepower from the standard version. A manual transmission was standard, and most customers choose the four-speed instead of the three-speed so they could have a better power-to-weight ratio for their gears.
The car’s actual production was contracted out, and that seemed to work well for the company and the car model. There were few problems with it, and it was well-liked among buyers. The suspension and other areas of the Floride were upgraded over the 10-year run, but there were no significant changes made to the look or styling of the car. Production was slow in the first year, and then rose significantly after that. Toward the end of the run, in the last couple of model years, production would drop off again. By then the car was starting to look dated, and many other models were appearing from other car makers. Renault withdrew the Floride instead of updating it, but there are still used ones available for those who like the look of the sporty little car.