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Renault Florida S: Mayor in screwdriver luck

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Renault Floride S restoration
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Those who know the Renault Floride and Caravelle models will probably see it at first glance: The F loride S from 1962 is not original in every detail. Owner Joachim Weller, who now has eight such models in his garage, knows that.

'My first car, however, was a Fiat 500,' says the native of Heilbronn and adds with a laugh: 'It had one Mercedes radiator grille, which was considered funny at the time, but today I wouldn't find it so good anymore. ' On the chic Renault Floride and Caravelle was he noticed in the early 1990s through a report in a magazine. During this time he was studying and looking for a cheap convertible. The Floride seemed to him the right vehicle, and when he was studying relevant advertisements, he happened upon exactly the one he knew from the article that caught his attention. He bought the car. 'But it was by far the worst Floride I've ever had,' he recalls. 'During the journey, the torsion in the body was so strong that the paint between the door and the fender popped off.'

So there was a lot of repairs to be made on this car, and the Wellers are happy to take this into their own hands. The necessary specialist knowledge is passed on from generation to generation, and so Joachim Weller and father Peter enthusiastically work on vintage cars, even though both are administrators by profession. Joachim Weller is even mayor, and when the nerves are on edge after a stressful day in the evening, he disappears for an hour or two in his Floride's garage. 'Then I'll be balanced again, which is also good for family life,' says the 46-year-old.

But that's not the only reason why the family is so enthusiastic about classic cars. The 13-year-old son Lukas occasionally likes to help with screws, and his wife Dorle enjoys the trips together.

Floride S an import from France

Incidentally, the cream-colored Floride S was the wedding car. Weller found the car in Montabaur. The previous owner had imported it from France, had it ready to drive and then gave it to his wife for her 60th birthday because she was the daughter of a formerRenault dealer.

Weller already owned a substantially healthier white specimen with some not so attractive attachments. So he wanted to swap the good parts for the bad parts on the cream-colored Florida and then sell the car again. But his wife liked the combination with the red interior so much that he gave up his intention and with a heavy heart parted with the better white one.

However, he did not intend to subject the car from Montabaur to a complete restoration . Nevertheless, he couldn't avoid some sheet metal work. He discovered various rust perforations on the underbody of the Floride, which had to be removed. Since he also knows how to weld, he was able to weld in the metal sheets he had cut accordingly.

One of the previous owners had attached a dummy grille to the front. He removed this and welded the remaining fastening holes. The production of the spare wheel holder took a little longer. The spare wheel is accessible via a downward opening flap underneath the front bumper. The frame in which it rests was totally rotten on this Floride and had to be rebuilt.

When buying the car, Weller also got a hardtop, but that did not belong to this model. He managed to find a suitable hardtop, but it had to be refurbished and repainted.

All of this work gave him great pleasure. He may not be superficial, but neither does he have sleepless nights when something is not perfect. 'And for a lot of things I certainly need ten times as long as an expert,' he admits. It would also be absurd to put yourself under time pressure, after all, it is a hobby.

But there have been situations in which he missed the fun. For example, when he was lying head first in the footwell of one of his other Florids laying a wiring harness. Believing that he had removed the battery, he drilled a hole in the sheet metal and accidentally drilled the battery, which was still installed. The battery acid leaked immediately, dripped onto the floor next to him, and then into his face and eyes. To this day, he has not forgotten the following blue light ride in the ambulance. 'That was a moment when I thought: Now I'm looking for another hobby,' says Weller. Fortunately everything went well, but since then he has been working even more conscientiously and always making sure that he has the right protective clothing such as gloves, grinding glasses, etc.

But back to the car shown here. In the interior, the work required was limited. The red dashboard was painted in the same color as the car, and the seats and side panels were cleaned. 'A complete renovation of the interior would have destroyed the patina,' says Weller. He has the black armrests on the doors with one of theSeat covers upholstered in matching red fabric. He found it in his small warehouse, because because of the only moderate supply of spare parts for these French cars, he has stocked up many parts over the years, especially those that were only used in Florida, such as the gasoline tank.

Only a few spare parts available for Floride

Even in France, where a long time ago he and a friend went to various wineries as well as many scrapyards there was hardly anything to be found. Some spare parts can be procured from the USA, where the Floride was delivered from 1959 under the name Caravelle.

The procurement of technical parts is less problematic. Weller only needed a few for the engine, because the engine made a healthy impression when bought. So it remained with a major inspection with oil change, new spark plugs, new breaker contact, etc. Soon Weller wants to replace the mounted carburetor with a Weber system.

He has replaced all worn parts on the chassis, including those front ball joints, and the brakes overhauled. Weller is not one of those who basically renew everything: What still works remains untouched. Nevertheless, the Floride driver invested many hours in the project. Because even minor work such as replacing all ailing rubber parts, overhauling the door locks or installing new window guides cost time.

And since he should like the finished car too, he decided to retouch it optically. He was bothered by the fact that the Floride S does not have the small decorative elements on the side part in front of the wheel cutout, where the original Floride has an air inlet. Without further ado, he made similar-looking elements from polished aluminum sheets, the edges of which he provided with a chrome strip. And since he likes the look of the US models better, he ordered the large bumper horns in the USA and converted his Floride to the white indicator lenses common there and red indicator lenses at the rear.

The wire rims were already when bought assembled. In order to enhance them, Weller added quick-release dummies, which he found after a long search at the Hoffmann-Speedster company in Viersen. Joachim Weller does not claim that his car is original in all respects. The main thing is that the joy he feels while screwing and driving is real.

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