Clénet: The Ultimate Neoclassic
The Clénet was the most elegant neoclassic
They are Roadsters that move with tremendous verve and élan. The Clénet was a serendipitous experience when brand new and still remains a fortuitous driving adventure in its classic, highly sought, post-production genre. The Clénet epitomized the neoclassic era of the 1970s and 1980s.
Alain Clénet had the vision and prefaced the dream bringing it into reality…fate changed the course of action with Sir Alfred DiMora now at the helm forging ahead creating automotive masterworks that will eventually end up as museum pieces. A Clénet indeed is a rare sighting…these two visionaries spawned the formidable legend of Clénet – The ultimate neoclassic…
“A neoclassic in the automotive segment refers to a car that is made somewhat in the image of classic cars of the 1920s and 1930s” according to the Classic Car Club of America. The term originated with the Excalibur of the 1960s. Panther, Zimmer, and Stutz all made their versions of modern renditions of classic high-performance cars. The Clénet is dashing and debonair…with panache and savoir faire. The Clénet is the most elegant of the custom-bodied neoclassics.
Clénet Series I
Excalibur Series III SS Roadster
“A neoclassic in the automotive segment refers to a car that is made somewhat in the image of classic cars of the 1920s and 1930s” according to the Classic Car Club of America. The term originated with the Excalibur of the 1960s. Zimmer, Clénet, and Stutz all made their versions of modern renditions of classic high-performance cars. The Clénet is dashing and debonair…with panache and savoir faire. The Clénet is the most elegant of the custom-bodied neoclassics
Zimmer Golden Spirit Coupe
It was the 1970s & 1980s during neoclassic heyday that coachbuilders created modern versions of classic car designs with a bit of the future. They were equipped with the underpinnings and running gear of the day. All safety and pollution control devices were present.
One such automobile was the Clénet. It was a striking contrast of old and new in a futuristic package, and was a true factory coachbuilt luxury roadster. It is timeless and sophisticated in an avant-garde manner…and it is rudely elegant which makes it NotoriousLuxury…
Alain Clénet placed emphasis on elegance, reliability, craftsmanship, and attention to detail. The early sales materials refer to the first of Series I as the Clénet Continental but after a few were built they were referred to as “Roadsters.” These were modern automobiles with old-world charm.
Their ultra-sleek neoclassic design remains as fresh today as when its design left the stylist’s pen. It is as contemporary as it is classic. Its timeless beauty is surpassed only by its exemplary fit & finish. The Clénet represents a rare value in ultra-exclusive motorcars. With minting at such low numbers, rarity guarantees its exclusivity. These magnificent automobiles were built from 1975 until 1987.
Alain Jean-Marie Clénet had a goal to give a re-birth to the art of custom coachbuilding. His intent was to build highly bespoke automobiles in such small numbers that would make them uniquely rare and regal in stature. He was thirty-five, three years later he had won the respect of the entire automotive industry with the success of his neoclassic works of art.
The Clénet I was built at a restricted pace of 250 vehicles. A Clénet Continental prototype was built in 1975. The base price in 1976 was $29,500 but increased to $79,500 by its end of production in 1979. The final Clénet Series I was built in 1985 for Sir Alfred at his Carpinteria California facility and was titled “Designer’s series.” These most elegant grand tourers are now rich and rare…
The Clénet I was reserved quickly by connoisseurs that recognized exemplary craftsmanship, elegance, and attention to detail. This original roadster stirred the automotive industry. This type of fit & finish hadn’t been witnessed since the Golden Age of motoring…
The Clénet Cabriolet allowed the grand tourer to be shared by more than two. It was built at a restricted pace of only 500 vehicles. It was a modern-day road car with classic simplicity, power, and timeless design gave it a unique quality all its own.
A Clénet is so luxurious and exclusive that it cannot be compared to any other automobile. Alain Clénet carved a new niche into the Automotive Hall of Fame. Fortune Magazine used the connotation “American Rolls Royce.” Sylvester Stallone, King Hussein of Jordan, Rod Stewart, and Farrah Fawcett drove them. A Clénet is the quintessential status symbol.
The Series II Cabriolet was built beginning late 1979 through 1987. The original production run was for 187 vehicles. The base price in 1979 was $59,900 and had increased to $102,500 by 1987. The serial numbers for the Goleta Plant are XXX/250 and production at Carpinteria XXX/500. Financial difficulties had hit hard halting production from 1980 until 1982.
Alain Clénet and investors had a vision, a classic style with modern-day running gear was the disposition. His idea was brilliant. The Clénet appeared in the media during the 1970s & 1980s as a status symbol…a symbol of wealth and sophistication. Financial issues interrupted production. The company filed bankruptcy and was dormant between 1980 and 1982.
Sir Alfred J DiMora, once an employee of the early Clénet Company purchased the assets and pumped new life into the brand. He formed the Classic Clénet Club in 1982 as an organization to help owners find parts, service, and technical advice. He revived Clénet Coachworks and is still dedicated to keeping the timeless automobiles on the road.
He can provide restoration, authentic factory documentation, blueprints, and so much more. Sir Alfred’s website address is: http://www.clenetclub.com/ if you want to register your Clénet or just look around. There is a wealth of knowledge for the Clénet enthusiast…
Production resumed on Series II & III cars that were in progress at the old Goleta facility. Sir Alfred hired many of the original craftsmen from the first Clénet Company. The Series III Asha Cabriolet had a production total of 52 vehicles. The Series III base price in 1981 was $62,500 and had increased to $82,500 by 1987.
President Ronald Reagan declared 1986 as the Centennial Year of the gasoline powered automobile. The Clénet was chosen as the official Centennial Car. DiMora and the Clénet won honors at the Automotive Hall of Fame in Michigan. The Classic Clénet Club is supported by DiMora Enterprises for Clénet owners world-wide.
The Clénet Series IV Sportster had a production total of only three and one prototype. Ten were in-build when the plant ceased production in 1987. The base price for Series IV was $54,900.
Sir Alfred & Yvonne DiMora
The 1979 Series I pictured is #187, equipped with running gear from Ford. The Cleveland 335-Series 16-valve V8 engine provided the Clénet with 159 hp @ 3,400 rpm and 427 Nm of peak torque @ 1,800 rpm. The engine was mated to the Ford C6 3-speed automatic gearbox. The engine block and cylinder heads were cast iron.
It used five main bearings. The engine was equipped with a Motorcraft 2150 2-bbl carburetor. This front engine rear drive luxury roadster sprinted from 0-60 mph in 11.8 seconds with a top speed of 99 mph. It did the ¼ mile @ 76 mph in 18.8 seconds. It is 191.9” in length, riding upon a 120.4” wheelbase and 73.4” in width.
The Clénet is upholstered in natural grain leather by Connolly Brothers. English wool carpet with lambswool rugs are richly underfoot. The cabin is highlighted by Danish Teakwood accents with a hand-finished Black Burl Walnut dash and Nardi Wood steering wheel.
Standard features include: power steering and brakes, automatic temperature control air conditioning, tilt steering wheel, automatic parking brake release, AM/FM stereo radio w/cassette, electric clock, crystal accessories, electric hood & trunk release, and wire wheels. Its avant-garde styling is augmented by a hand-rubbed acrylic enamel finish and an insulated soft top.
Alain Clénet began this historic chapter in automotive history…and Sir Alfred J DiMora finished it brilliantly, seamlessly, and masterfully. It lives on forever as the quintessential neoclassic automotive creation. Its timeless design has challenged the years…it looks as fresh today as it did at its inception.
The Clénet is a contemporary version of a classic high performance car from the 1920s and 1930s. Parts and restoration will always be available thanks to Sir Alfred. He is truly keeping the legend of Clénet alive and quite well! A tip of the hat to you Sir Alfred…thank you for being the caretaker for automotive history’s neoclassic masterpieces. “Nil fato relinquemus”
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