R4 Report "auto motor sport"

More than 8 million times ran the Renault 4 between 1961 and 1992 from the band - and still it has almost completely disappeared from our streets. The R4 is the mother of all mini-vans. 

The Renault 4 was a small revolution back then. In his predecessor Renault 4 CV drive and engine are still behind, but with the R4 everything is different, he 1961 is the automobile of the modern age.

Practical pragmatist

The Renault 4 is the first Renault with front engine and one of the first with a fifth door, which bears her name rightly. Independent suspension was also not standard at the time, and the space-saving torsion bar suspension proved to be one of the biggest advantages of the new compact car.

Photo Renault
Photo Renault

Thus, the front engine front-wheel drive car Renault 4 was a small revolution. And it was well received by families, artisans - and adventurers.

Otherwise, the initially just 540 kg heavy Renault 4 in terms of technology is still a representative of the transition: A non-self-supporting body sits on a platform frame. Braking is first with four drum brakes, which take a longer seconds of memory, until they unfold their full effect. A reminder of the pre-war car is the hole in the front bumper for a crank, with which the engine can be started by hand. From 1975, this anachronistic equipment accounted for.

Engines for eternity

Whoever folds the big bonnet of the Renault 4 forwards sees nothing at first except a large black air filter box, a few hoses and cables. On closer inspection, one sees a tiny four-cylinder, squatting in the huge engine compartment and hiding shyly under the large air filter box. But the little one is actually a big guy. It is as robust as a marine diesel, runs much quieter and consumes negligible amounts of fuel.

With about 5 liters you are well on the road, rarely it is more than 6 liters - even with permanent full throttle, which was often the medium of choice for the 26 to 34 hp engines to swim in traffic. With higher consumption you should quickly adjust the carburetor, a breeze with the space for screws in the front compartment.

Equipment: Where nothing is, nothing can break
But the Renault 4 with its loading and living space, which starts directly behind the bulkhead wall, can really boast. Here is not sitting about cubic meters plastic, rubber and soft paint duds, no, here too it is pragmatic. Instead of a covered glove compartment, there are three open - the Renault 4 has nothing to hide. Two at knee level and one in front of the passenger. The knee contact between the driver and passenger is not disturbed by a shift lever. This protrudes as a revolver from the dashboard, in which four switches and two levers give the driver no mystery. For fresh air supply to the disc provided until 1975, a simple sheet metal flap under the windshield.

Photo Renault sash windows did not need air conditioning.
Photo Renault sash windows did not need air conditioning.

The cargo compartment is between 295 and 2,350 liters depending on the model and the degree of internal liberation - ie expansion of the rear seat and front passenger seat. The largest Renault 4, the long version R4F6 was therefore popular and sought after by craftsmen and traders alike. The payload of 340 kilograms was only a rough guideline. It should have been easy to double the curb weight of 780 kilograms.

For drivers of the normal version opens in the Renault 4 a light-flooded world. Such an airy construction as the Renault 4 is rarely found in automobiles. 12 windows provide a clear view of the inside and outside. Instead of heavy and defect-prone crank windows, there are simple sliding windows that perform their duties without complaint. Only sometimes do they tend to incontinence.

Renault 4 drivers were mostly "time" readers

That can not only meet a Renault 4 driver from above. Also, the underbody tends now and again to ingress of water. The reason for this is the lack of rust prevention, which makes the sheet porous. In many Renault 4 is therefore among the floor mats still today one or the other "time" weekly to find. She was especially tall and fat and covered almost the entire footwell. It is also rumored that time is best suited as a sealing material because of the high paper quality.

Connoisseurs donated their Renault 4 right at the delivery a cavity seal, otherwise the platform frame was often already rusted after a few years from the inside.

Renault 4 - a car of its time

Photo: Renault The hippie era: VW Bulli, Beetle, Duck and Renault 4 were among them - they were cheap to buy, sturdy and easy to repair.
Photo: Renault The hippie era: VW Bulli, Beetle, Duck and Renault 4 were among them - they were cheap to buy, sturdy and easy to repair.

The Renault 4 was and is a classless automobile. So simple and practical, so sympathetic and cheap were few other vehicles: VW Beetle, Citroën 2CV, Fiat 500 or Mini. But only he offered in the interior as much space as a mid-size sedan. Even as a new car cheap (1961 he cost 8,000 shillings), he was really cheap as a second or third hand car. Generations of students used him as a vacation car, sizzling several layers of tin on his wounds, and painting colorful flowers, spontaneous sayings over the rusty spots, or decorating them with "Atomic No Thanks" stickers.

But then everything went very fast. Was he until the mid-90s, a frequently seen used car, he disappeared almost completely from the streets at the turn of the millennium. Once because the repairs were no longer worthwhile; but also because of his lack of security. No ABS, no ESP, no crumple zone and the body structure as soft as French white bread - he had survived himself.

He finally became a diffusing classic with the introduction of environmental zones. Euro 2 was out of reach for the fuel-efficient engines, which are based on a construction from the 50s. From the end of 1987 Renault took the 4 in Austria from the market, because he no longer reached the exhaust limits. When in 1992 the production was discontinued after 8,135,424 copies, an era came to an end. In 2008, Renault then put together with the French automotive technology GmbH on a catalytic converter retrofit for engines from 956 to 1,108 cc, which was enough to reach the Green Plaque. For many vehicles, this initiative was already too late.

Second place at the Paris-Dakar Rally

It's hard to believe, but the Renault 4 was also used in motorsport - and quite successful. He started in 1962 and 1963 at the Rallye Monte Carlo and finally wrote himself into the history books, as in 1979, the brothers Bernard and Claude Marreau at the first Rally Paris-Dakar took second place in the overall standings. Your Renault 4 was a four-wheel drive version of the SINPAR company, which presented in 1964 a four-wheel drive version.

Photo: Renault Here is a rally version with creatively laid exhaust system - the end pot is mounted on the roof.
Photo: Renault Here is a rally version with creatively laid exhaust system - the end pot is mounted on the roof.

Renault Kangoo - the legitimate successor to the Renault 4

It took Renault about six years until a successor to the R4 could be presented - the Renault Rapid can only be regarded as a failed attempt. The Renault Kangoo stepped into the big footsteps of the small R4. It offers even more space, plus two practical sliding doors - and a similar quality to his ancestor. From the R4 he has taken over the torsion bar suspension, if only rear.

Photo Renault
Photo Renault

Restoration is hardly worth it - yet

There we are again with the mother of all mini-vans: Because of the brown plague, there are no known Renault 4 in the condition 1. Bad formulated: a restoration exceeds the time value already in their planning. Hopefully, that will change soon as the fan base grows and the Renault 4 wins a higher appreciation (Note from rÖno4: In Austria, there is the fan base and we appreciate and love our Renault 4!)

But let's face it, the Renault 4 is not in perfect condition. Much better is a condition note 3 - ready to drive and technically without problems, as well many traces of the last decades. Just as he has been enriching the car world for more than 50 years.

The Renault 4 founded its own vehicle genre: the practical space miracle small car.
The Renault 4 founded its own vehicle genre: the practical space miracle small car.