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 Renault 4


(1961-1992)




The Renault  4 was produced from 1961 to 1992
6 engines from 0.6 to 1.1 liter and power from 23hp to 34hp, are on Histomobile.


Renault 4 

In 1956 the decision was taken to design a replacement for the 4CV, popularly known as "La Quatch". This car (also known as the Renault 750), which was similar in appearance to the Morris Minor and other cars of that time, had been very popular. It was a much quicker seller than any other car (including the 2CV) and had helped to put the country back on its feet after the second world war. However, it was cramped, and it had been overtaken by other cars in practicality. In the late fifties, the 4CV was overtaken in sales by both the 2CV, and the Dauphine (a derivative of the 4CV). Pierre Dreyfus, chairman of Renault commissioned a group of designers to create a replacement for it and the Juva4. This became known as the project 350, later as 112. The engineers working on the car dubbed it "Marie-Chantal".

Originally it was to have a two-cylinder 450cc engine, following the template of the 2CV desing. Due to the added cost of development and the superiority of the existing four-cylinder unit, the new engine was abandoned. The revised four-cylinder was the first engine to be heremetically sealed, and there were no grease points. This meant that the cooling system needed no maintenance, giving it the advantages of the air-cooled engine. It used a fifth door, an original feature for this car. Also it needed soft suspension for poor surfaces. It was to be the first Renault to use front wheel drive, a revolution for the Regie. This gave the car a flat floorpan, which helped in practicality terms. In a seemingly retrograde step, the new car ditched the monocoque construction method of the 4CV (one of the pioneers of this method). However the separate chassis and body construction was adopted as it was lighter and more suited to the rugged terrain that the car would have to cope with - Many 4 X 4's use this method today. It also had the added bonus of being cheaper to build, helping to offset the higher cost of front wheel drive.

Altogether, fourteen roadgoing prototypes were built. It was tested partially-disguised all around the world, covering 2 millions kilometres in different conditions and climates. The car took its definitive shape in 1961. The design criteria accounted very little to styling, it was not considered to be very important for this type of car. The only real styling brief was that the car (which was to be the automotive "blue jeans"), should be simple and age very well. Some argued vociferously for a more stylised car, but it stayed reasonably faithful to the original sketch and prototype, the uncompromising shape of the original being refined into an altogether more pleasant form. The front of the car changed more appreciably: Front body panels modelled closely on those of the Dauphine were used on prototypes during testing and the bonnet was given a grille (the Dauphine was rear-engined). The Dauphine is the only other Renault that looks remotely like the Renault 4. The rest of the car was altered to harmonise with the front. The maturing design of the car was evident in the prototypes, and when each new one was built, it had changed. However, even the last prototype looked very different from the finished article.

The subject of the styling was not left there, and it was the source of further argument between many importers including Alfa Romeo of Italy. As a result, some minor changes were made at the last minute, including the replacement of the grille with a simpler item, and a new chrome surround for the rear number-place housing. Many names were considered for the car, among them "Domino" (following from Dauphine) and R4 (following from 4CV). In the end it was up to the workers, who voted for the latter. This clearly identified the car in buyers' minds as the successor to the 4CV. The last 4CV rolled of the line at Īle Seguin early in the summer, production having been ramped up to fill orders until September. Work commenced on the installation of tooling and the alterations that were required to produce the new R4. This gargantuan task was performed in only three weeks by two thousand workers who collectively put in over 40,000 hours.

Although production of the Renault 4 started on the 3rd August, it did not reach its full volume until later. This allowed time for the car to be phased in, and for the workers to adjust to the new production processes. About 15,000 R4s were built in time for the launch in October. The car was previewed and tested by motoring journalists for magazines, newspapers and television. Several R4s and an R3 were sent to the Frankfurt International Motor Show. The Renault bosses watched very carefully to gauge the reaction to the new car; this would be a good indication of the reaction in the R4's most important market of France. The Renault market machine was put into action. On the 4th of October, examples of the new car were lined up in front of famous city landmarks and posters appeared everywhere as part of the "Take the Wheel" campaign. The car made its proper debut at the Paris Motor Show which opened on the 6th October. Two 4Ls appeared, one of them sectioned. The launch was a huge success. Its appearance was criticised by some for its rustic stance and rather upright rear, but its overall detailing was good and the car had its own unique personality.




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