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Renault 4. Memories of the year-old French evergreen

This year, the Renault 4 blows out sixty candles. Of course there is every reason to consider that. Renault built the successor to the 4CV for almost 33 years. Without too drastic adjustments and in various designs. More than eight million copies left the factory gates. This put him in the top 10 of most built cars in history.


The Renault 4. Once a Swedish journalist called it the most important car of the 2s. With front-wheel drive, two more cylinders than the 3CV, the fifth door, two side-by-side torsion bars at the rear and a recognizable and practical design, the Renault broke new ground within the small class. The French also had the Spartan Renault 4 on the program, but it quickly cleared the field. The Renault XNUMX did become a keeper.

Plastic model from NOREV

I cherish fond memories of the Renault 4. As a kid he already spoke to me. I remember very well that I received a plastic model from my parents. That was the 1:43 version of NOREV. The toys R4 fascinated me. It came close to the real R4. The tailgate could open, and the back of the back seat could be lowered. That made the miniature Renault lifelike and often played. Within six months it was done with the cart, but Sinterklaas provided a replacement. I can thus evoke the smell of the model, and also the special feeling that I had with it.

Roadside assistance version of Bburago

That sense of true-to-life reappeared in 1979. We celebrated Sinterklaas at grandma de Mooij in Haarlem. I no longer believed in the saint, but I had asked him to put Bburago's Renault 4 Roadside Assistance in the parcel basket. And that happened. I was still a child, my joy was ditto. This toy car was also lifelike, with real pawns and a warning sign. I had it for years, eventually it ended up as a wrecker in an old school bag. Sin, sin.

From the Dutch yearbooks

What I also thought was a shame was the fact that the Dutch importer removed the Renault 4 for 1987 from the program. The Renault 4 had already had a number of metamorphoses at that time. Changed grilles, the removal of the sliding flap under the windscreen, the arrival of the GTL, the Safari: it all still resonates with me. I always followed the Renault 4 with its different wheelbase left and right, and I was sincerely sorry that the sympathetic Frenchman was no longer in the Dutch car yearbooks from 1987. Still, I remained a fan.

Almost bought

This became apparent, for example, when I made a report with the Renault 4 in good condition which was offered by Egbert Spinder from Nosstalgia. I kind of got home in the cart, which put a smile on my face. A few years earlier I was also under the spell of an R4. This was in Vlaardingen, garage de l'Est offered the copy from a late year of construction. I was thinking about making this Renault mine. The omens were good, and as if it had to be that way, I came into contact with an R4 club member on Terschelling. Not much later, however, a VW 1303 crossed my path, that was love at first sight. After deliberation, I chose the Volkswagen, and I was very happy with that for years. But I still often thought of the Renault I didn't buy. With a little pain in the heart.

The Renault 4 in the door to door newspaper

It was not the first time that I had a Foursome shot. Years earlier, in 1992, I fished a house to house newspaper in Leeuwarden from the letterbox of my student flat. I always spelled out that newspaper, especially because of the privately offered cars in the Frisian capital. These were often in a price category that was manageable for a student with a side job. I also came across an R4 from 1980, with five months MOT. It was for sale for two hundred and fifty guilders, so I gave it a call. Then I made an appointment to drive the Renault the next day.

"Fred Flintstone, Pleasant"

The front door opened, the owner introduced himself. "Fred Flintstone, nice." Then I already knew enough. The seller's joke confirmed the poor condition in which I had already found the Viertje. “Just take it with you for a few days”. I made a lot of kilometers with the Viertje. The motor was fine, but to develop brake pressure I had to pump structurally. The sliding windows rattled and the seats sagged. The ventilation options in the floor made available by Mother Nature did their job well, because there was considerable draft in the Renault. Five months MOThow in the world was that possible.

"Still deserved something"

I didn't buy the R4, but I never forgot it. The cart was cozy, the two-day fun was enormous. The simplicity was a revelation, the umbrella poker charming, the pedals were close together, and the comfort was sublime. Moreover, I made good progress with it. And people laughed, gave me a thumbs up, I got a blink now and then. But the ratio indicated that I simply could not buy this car. With a little regret and a full tank, I eventually brought the Renault back. The seller understood my considerations not to buy the Renault. He laughed and said goodbye with the legendary words: “A full tank? Ha ha, well deserved. ”

A persistent weakness

The Renault 4. I have a soft spot for it. Because this was a car that carried practical charm in all its simplicity. It was the simple and good technique. In versatility. In space. In the design that everyone can draw. And in that back seat, that told all about the great possibilities of a small car, which became very big. Congratulations, Renault 4!


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12 Comments

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  1. After a test drive in an R3, my parents opted for an R1961 at the end of 4. Light blue with round chrome bumpertjes, with those separate wheel covers. Chrome surround of the rear license plate. My father had traded in his 1957 Duck and now had the feeling that he was driving a real car. I was very proud because I now also had a door to get in and out, that was a different story in that Duck delivery with back seat and side windows. My compliments Erik for your story, search carefully, because they are probably still there. Maybe still an R4 Super!

  2. Nice retrospect. Also for me the first car (from Dad's money). Beautiful memories. Only the windshield wipers did not work properly. A visit to the Renault garage in Amsterdam showed that I should have made an appointment and could not be helped immediately. Then we drove to Limburg in pouring rain and thought: I will never have a Renault again. But yes, I now think differently about it. Apparently that garage had enough customers. R4 continues with fond memories.
    regards, ARco.

  3. My only memory of the R4 is that I (an avid 2cv driver) drove away hard on a test drive, because nobody had told me that the reverse gear was in place of the first gear on a Duck ...

  4. Nice car, I drove it for a few years and went on a camping holiday to England. It was an ideal car for that, everything fit in! Driving alone in the rain was a tragedy with that windshield wiper motor ahead!

  5. My memory of the Renault 4 in the first series is the always black LA wheel, because the exhaust on those types still appeared on the side just in front of the wheel.

  6. Once from a “training week” with the three of us together with a teacher from the MLS, drove back to school in his car… it was such a bordeaux red Renault 4 that was swarming at the time. This one was clearly recognizable with the then well-known round yellow sticker “Atomenergy? No thanks". At that time, the driver and owner was our social studies teacher and later a parliamentarian and mayor Jacob Reitsma.
    If you now look back and occasionally encounter a four on your way, you still get the feeling that you have missed something ...

  7. When we picked up our new Renault 4 GTL, the paint fell to the floor when closing the door! There was no primer underneath. furthermore had 3 new Renault 4.
    Lovely comfortable car with lots of space and very economical!

  8. My very first car, a 4 Renault 1976 Safari. Turquoise in color. Bought it from a teacher who had a small accident with it. His neighbor knew cars and measured the wheelbase. Conclusion: more damage than just 1 front screen.
    I checked it in an Autovisie yearbook. Wheelbase R4 left / right 240/245 cm 🤓. But yes… I was only 16… didn't even have a driver's license and that neighbor, well… he knew it!
    I made a nice profit while my classmates picked strawberries in the meantime.

  9. Recently I responded to an R4 driver on facebook “what are your windshield wipers high, shouldn't that be adjusted” to which I got the response that it should be. Huh?

    I have never noticed it in all those decades! But indeed, with the Renault 4, the wipers are already halfway up the windscreen in the rest position. Will take some getting used to.

    Furthermore, of course great. Yes, rust, but if you have to, you can lift the entire carriage off the separate chassis. There is nothing wrong with the motor.

    I think the Parisienne is the most beautiful.

  10. Nice story of a great car.

    Come on, put that 1303 on the marketplace and finally treat yourself to a neat R4. So much patience, you deserve it!

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