- Image credit: Favcars.com

Even if you're the geekiest of petrolheads, when you think about sports cars, I can bet that anything from France wouldn't immediately pop into your head. And respectably, that's because they don't tend to be big fans of the genre. At least not as much as the British, the Germans and Italians.

So naturally, sports cars from France tend to be fairly underrated. I mean yes, they've made some great hot hatches over the years, but a lightweight two-seater Rear-Wheel-Drive car tends to be a rare appearance. Cars like the Alpine A310 and Peugeot 504 2-door have been well-remembered, but there's lots out there that have been completely forgotten about.

Coming up now, is a list of France's most forgotten sports cars.

Panhard CD (1962-65)

Image credit: httpswww.flickr.comphotosdavehamster

Image credit: httpswww.flickr.comphotosdavehamster

Built as a production version of a Le Mans racer, the CD was one of the quirkiest sports cars you could get. So quirky in fact, that only 184 were ever sold with a few rumoured to have been left unassembled.

Not only did it look gorgeous in an unusual fashion, but it was powered by a pokey 848cc air cooled 2 cylinder boxer engine in either single carb or twin carb guise. Power ranged from 49bhp in the standard GT to 59bhp in the more powerful Rallye.

Facel Vega Facellia (1960-64)

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Built as a competitor to the Mercedes 190SL, the Facellia should've been the Facel's most successful model in the lineup. Sadly though, it just wasn't.

The big mistake was that they didn't opt for an American engine (which they did with others like the HK500) and instead, went for a French-designed 1.6 litre twin cam 4 cylinder unit. It was plagued with all sorts of problems as only two bearings were used to support the camshafts.

Later on, they replaced the troubled engine with a Volvo B18 unit. But the bad reputation had been laid and the Facellia was deemed a disaster along with the brand itself - which went bust in 1964.

Peugeot 404 Coupe & Cabriolet (1962-75)

The 504 Coupe and Convertible were well-remembered and rightly so. However, there appears to be a lot less coverage on the predecessor: the softer, slightly weaker 404.

The bodies for the 2-door 404s were designed and made by Pininfarina before being assembled onto the standard 404 chassis. None of the body panels are interchangeable with the saloons/estates, but the 1.6 litre 4 cylinder engine remained the same.

The fuel injected version could hit 60 in 12.2 seconds and go onto a 105mph top speed. Though, the fact that the 2-door 404 costed the same as an E-Type Jag suggests the low sales figures - which was just over 17,000. For context, Peugeot made 1.8 million 404s between 1960-1975.

Renault Floride/Caravelle (1958-68)

Image credit: Favcars.com

Image credit: Favcars.com

Designed to compete against Volkswagen's Karmann Ghia, the Caravelle - or Floride outside of UK and U.S markets until 1962 - was Renault's attempt at a stylish 2-door affordable sports car. It was made with the American market in mind and like the VWs and Renault's very own Dauphine, it was rear-engined and rear-wheel-drive.

Throughout its 10 year lifespan between, it housed tiny inline 4 cylinder engines of varying sizes and had up to 55bhp. Handling improvements also arrived by 1960 as well as all-round disc brakes in 1962 - which was pretty radical at the time. The Caravelle/Floride was therefore a capable thing as well as a pretty one.

Alpine A106 (1955-1961)

Image credit: Favcars.com

Image credit: Favcars.com

This was the first car produced under the iconic Alpine brand: the founder, Jean Rédélé, had success in motorsport with the Renault 4CV in the early 50s, and decided a sports car brand of his own would be a nice idea.

The A106 featured a dinky little 747cc water cooled inline 4 which initially kicked out between 21-30bhp. The competition-oriented 'Mille Miles' versions had 43bhp; and talking of competition, the humble little car managed to snatch a class victory in the 1955 Mille Miglia.

Perhaps even more interestingly than that, the first three to roll off the production line were painted red, white and blue to match the French flag.

Matra Djet (1962-67)

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The sheer amount of variation involving the Djet simply cannot be compressed into a few short paragraphs, so I'll just give you a little overview.

The car itself was created by a little firm called Automobiles René Bonnet. It was called the René Bonnet Djet and it was the first ever road-going production car to be mid-engined. It was powered by a little 1.1 litre 4 cylinder engine from the Renault 8 (one version had the Gordini engine).

In 1964, René Bonnet went into financial difficulty and were taken over by Matra. They carried on making the Djet with the same R8 engines, though the later Jet 6 had the expanded 1.3 litre unit with 105bhp. A total of 1,700 Djets were ever made.

Marsonetto 1600 GT (1968-72)

Image credit: Wikipedia.

Image credit: Wikipedia.

Originally starting out as a brand specialising in bodywork for industrial vehicles, Marsonetto made themselves a car maker in 1958. After many experiments for the next decade, they eventually rolled out a production car in 1968: the 1600 GT.

The body was made from fibreglass and as a result, the car only weighed 575kg. It was Front-Wheel-Drive, had 4 seats, and the 1.6 litre 4 cylinder engine from the Renault 16. It was even capable of a surprising 136mph top speed.

Sadly though, the surprisingly capable and practical Marsonetto was produced in incredibly small numbers and the company went bust in 1972. The premises still survive today as a Fiat dealership in Villeurbanne, France.

Piollet 315 (1965)

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A man called Jacques Piollet had a dream: he was a keen engineer from a young age and during his military service in Algeria, he envisioned his own sports car. On his return to France in 1961, he set to work.

The car was finished and shown at the Paris motor show in 1965. It used a whole host of Peugeot bits; the front axle from a 403, the engine, driveshaft and gearbox were from a 404. It was all installed on a tubular frame chassis and wrapped in fibreglass bodywork - obviously inspired by the great sports GTs of the time.

Just this one was produced, but it's not clear why any more examples were produced (according to Classic Driver). But the 315 remains as an interesting example of a one-off homemade sports car.

Simca Sport

Rather confusingly, the Simca Sport started out in life as a 2-door version of the Simca 8. It wasn't until 1952 that it shared the same platform as the more modern Aronde as well as the new 50bhp 1.2 litre 4 cylinder engine. It was now known as the Simca 9 Sport.

Updates were issued in 1956 where the sexy 2-door received a new body designed by Facel and an upgraded 1.3 litre engine with up to 70bhp. Confusingly however, the hardtop was called the 'Plein Ciel' - which meant open sky! The actual convertible was called the 'Océane'.

The future of the Simca Sport became bleak: by the early 60s, it was twice the price of a standard Arona and wasn't really that much quicker. Prototypes were tested but never made production, and so the car's life ended in 1962.

Thanks for reading

Image credit: Favcars.com

Image credit: Favcars.com

So, there we have it. The 10 most forgotten French sports cars - at least in my opinion.

If you'd like to throw any others in, feel free to mention them in the comments.

Nonetheless, I hope you enjoyed reading and have a lovely day.

Thanks.

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