This Renault was seen a few weeks ago in a street in Alcudia in the north of Mallorca, and apart from some small signs of rust was in remarkable condition. From details such as the plastic front grille we think that it dates from the 1974-1978 period – so is at least 40 years old.
The Renault 4 was launched in 1961 and lasted until 1994. It was the company’s first front-wheel drive family car.
It was extremely popular: by 1966 1 million had been produced, and over 8 million were built in total. Initially marketed as a small estate car, it is now considered to be the first mass-production hatchback.
The car started life with two engine sizes: the R3 with 603cc and the R4 with 747cc.
The R3 and R4 were targeted at the Citroën 2CV, and therefore had similarly soft suspension. At the Paris Salon launch in 1961, a demonstration display allowed visitors to sit inside a car while a rolling road provided irregular bumps that were absorbed by the car’s springing.
In 1978 the top-end Renault 4 GTLs received the new 1,108 cc engine first installed in the Estafette van and R8 in the summer of 1962. The car in our picture boasts a badge marked “1.1 Litros”, so must have this larger engine.
As to the suspension, a curious feature is that the rear torsion bars are located one behind the other, making the wheelbase longer on the right side than on the left.
We do not know exactly where the car in our picture was built, but Renault 4s were assembled all over the world. In Spain the Renault 4L is known as “Cuatro latas” (four tins).
The Renault 4 lasted longer than many other family cars, even into the 1990s when the R5 was already in full production. The last Renault 4s to be built were in a series of 1000 examples marketed as “Bye-Bye”, each with a numbered plaque.