As French as a baguette and camembert, the Renault 4 with its soft suspension and frugal engine has long been the stock in trade of the French automotive industry.
Citroen led the way with their 2CV, Renault having to play catch-up with the more advanced yet cheaper Renault 3 and Renault 4 which were launched simultaneously in 1961. The 3 had a mere 603cc while the more powerful 4 used the 747cc engine from the outgoing rear-engined 4CV. Their stark, utilitarian bodywork and soft torsion bar suspension mirrored the characteristics of its 2CV competition. Aggressive pricing and smoother, more powerful engines attracted customers away from the Citroen, the Renault 4 remaining in production until 1992 by which time a staggering eight million had been sold.
In 1967 the car was significantly upgraded with an increase in capacity to 845cc and a four-speed gearbox. Gear selection was through a simple ‘push me pull you’ arrangement which poked through the dashboard, these earlier four-speed cars having a dog-leg first, later models reverting to a more conventional ‘H’ pattern. From 1978, the range-topping GTL was sold with an 1,108cc engine, although a significantly taller final-drive dulled the performance unless the driver could find a long enough stretch of downhill road in which case they could pull over 90mph!
One of the most successful cars in history, they are surprisingly few and far between these days, especially in the UK where they sold well. Now something of cult classic, a Renault 4 hit the headlines again in 2013 when Pope Frances was presented with one that had covered 300,000kms as a gift from his friend Father Renzo Zocca from Verona. He obviously knows a good thing when he sees it.
Joining a large collection of low mileage classics in 2006, this smart bright red example has seen little use over the last 10 years. Acquired from a lady in Somerset, this TL spec Renault 4 has been fitted with a full length sunroof. The indicated mileage of just 30,100 miles is unsubstantiated but understood by the vendor to be correct, the condition of the usually rust-prone bodywork certainly lending credence to the theory.
Right-hand drive Renault 4s are hard to find, especially in this sort of condition, making this a rare opportunity to acquire this chic and interesting alternative to a 2CV or classic Mini.