I don't know about you, but when I'm shopping for a sports car, I like to know that the other models the company produces are for mail delivery. And street vendors. And airport utility trucks.
But that's exactly the case in 1965 if you were shopping for a Société des Véhicules André Morin—SOVAM—sports car.
How on earth did I find out about this car? Reader Martin sent me a straight-to-the-point question, "Have you done a COTD on the SOVAM?"
So here you go.
French entrepreneur André Morin continued his father's coachbuilding venture, creating custom van bodies for mobile stores and delivery services. From his start in 1930, by the early 60s Morin had enough cash flow to develop his own sports car, the 850S.
It was shown at the Paris Motor Show in 1965 and demand convinced Morin to produce the car.
Based around Renault 4 mechanicals, with a fiberglass targa-top'd body—and a laid-down Renault Floride / Caravelle windshield—the car was long, low, and mean…even if it only had drum brakes, a 3-speed manual transmission, and 850cc of Renault Dauphine power!
It was inexpensive, though, at only 9990 francs, and attracted quite a few buyers.
The cars were continuously updated, and in only a few months the larger (and breathed-on) 1100cc Caravelle engine was installed, making it the SOVAM 1100 VS. With uprated disk brakes and a four-speed transmission, the 570 kg (1256 lbs) car was spritely enough, hitting 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 13 seconds.
Price…at 12,960 francs it compared well to the Renault Floride / Caravelle at 11,500 francs and the Matra Djet at 16,900 francs.
Sadly, however, the car quickly lost its lustre with its enthusiast buyers, and production was beginning to slow down.
I generally pick one model out of a range to do a full story on (or at least for the title!) so the 1300 GS is the last, and fastest iteration.
Powered by a 1300cc engine from the Renault R8 Gordini, along with a five-speed manual transmission, the car was stretched to accommodate a (small) pair of rear seats, and the targa roof was nixed in favour of a fastback.
Top speed? 195 km/h (121 mph.) Decent!
For 1967, the now base 1100 S model was priced at 14,800 francs and the new 1300 GS, at 21,500 francs ended up being more expensive than the Renault R8 Gordini, and the same ballpark as a Renault-Alpine A110!
Only six were made, and the company stopped producing cars in 1968, switching instead to airport equipment—and you can buy a brand new SOVAM airport service vehicle!
Of course, the SOVAM range is largely forgotten these days. If you want one, the company produced about 160 cars in total, with close to 30 survivors still around today.
Its styling may remind you of another small, sporty car built in the UK that used Volvo engines for some time… But that's a story for another day.