Something’s Horribly Awry in This Classic Renault Ad

It might be the saddest little picture in the world.

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Americans haven’t been able to buy a new French car since Peugeot discontinued U.S. sale of the 405 sedan. For nearly a quarter-century, Yankee motorists have been cut off from some of the world’s most stylish and bizarre autos. The Citroën C6, a luxury car with the profile of a carp? Jamais. The Renault Clio V6 RS, a mid-engined, rear-wheel drive hatchback? Non. While much of the world wafts around in Gallic luxury (or frugality), America toddles around in proverbial Freedom Fries.

But back in 1958, we had the full complement: Renault, Peugeot, Citroën. A small family looking to impress with a hip, Continental vibe could purchase a Renault Dauphine, a rear-engined Beetle competitor, complete with a swing axle for extra terreur on the road. In this period advertisement, an all-American blondie mom and two blondie kids use a Dauphine as a platform from which to welcome home, presumably, papa. Sadly for the family, the plane seems to be descending at an, er, alarming angle—mon dieu. Either the illustrator had never seen a plane land, or this is a picture of a sad day for one particular francophillic family.