A look back at the Renault 4 (1961 – 1962) 0


The Renault 4 was initially conceived as a competitor to the Citroen 2CV that was effortlessly sweeping all before it as the sixties got under way. The influences of the perky little two-horse-power are clear for all to see in Renault’s response.

The ‘4’ bettered its Gallic rival by providing passengers with a bit more room, a driving experience that was more conventional and less eccentric than the 2CV, and a wide-opening hatchback that was extremely practical.

Soon after its release, Renault found they had a huge hit on their hands. A pioneer of the front-wheel drive hatchbacks, it notched up an enormous eight million sales over a lengthy 31-year career. Devastatingly uncomplicated in areas, yet intriguingly complex in others, Renault was developing its front-wheel tech with this car.

Nowhere near as quirky as the 2CV, the 4 still had plenty of touches of individuality, none more so than the dashboard mounted gearlever, which was linked directly to the engine through the dash.

There were six engine options ranging from 603cc to 1108cc, but power remained between 23bhp and 34bhp. This meant you could drive it flat out on UK motorways and never have to worry about a speeding ticket. It came as a five-door hatchback, a van, 4×4 and also a beach car known as the Plein Air.   

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