Post World War Two austerity affected many things and motor car design was certainly one of its victims. French manufacturer Renault wanted/needed a car it could sell into the desirable American market; one which would be glamourous and appeal, in particular, to women.
Launched in Paris in 1958, the car initially had two names: ‘Floride’, French for ‘Florida’, and ‘Caravelle’ as potential buyers in America who did not live in that state did not particularly want a car named after it. Though built in France, its elegant body styling came from Italy’s Pietro Frua (see also Maserati and AC) and the engine was in the rear which then was Renault’s default position.
The Floride/Caravelle was popular and sold well - perhaps because Brigitte Bardot was used by Renault in some of the car’s marketing images - but was rather underpowered. Subsequent revisions were made to the car including larger engines and revised bodywork and ‘Caravelle’ eventually became its sole name.
Renault had made some 117,000 Caravelles when production ceased in 1968; by this time the once trendy-looking styling was looking out of date.