|Engine||In-line four-cylinder, 747cc|
Renault's replacement for the long running and hugely successful 4CV was launched in 1961 and remained in production for more than 30 years, with more than eight million built. Like its chief rival, Citröen's 2CV, much of the R4's appeal lay in its classless nature, with everyone from farmers to chic Parisians falling for the Renault's charms. The brilliantly versatile front-wheel drive design included one of the first hatchbacks to see mass production, along with rear seats that could either be folded flat or easily removed altogether, while the interior had ample room for five adults. The earliest R4s were powered by either 603cc (in France only, where it sold as the R3) or 747cc capacity engines, the latter derived from the 4CV and developing 26.5 horsepower. The full synchromesh gearbox employed a dashboard mounted push/pull gear lever and there was an umbrella-type handbrake. Like the 2CV, the Renault's suspension was supple enough to cope with the worst French roads yet the torsion bar set-up endowed the model with plenty of grip, despite the prodigious body roll and like most French cars of the era was capable of cruising at its maximum speed of 55mph all day long. Hydraulic drum brakes all round provided ample stopping power (front discs were not felt necessary until 1983) and a sealed cooling system was a novel feature at the time. In 1963 the more powerful R4 Super saw the arrival of an 845cc engine lifted from the Dauphine saloons. Early R4s built pre-facelift in 1967 offer the most charm and period style, with later revised cars losing some of the quirkiest features. Simple, reliable and increasingly hard to find, the Renault 4 remains one of the most successful and iconic small cars ever made. Like most European manufacturers of the period, Renault assembled the 4 in Australia and its rugged nature earned it plenty of fans in this country. Although survivors are few and far between, the Renault 4 owner is well catered for here, with a strong club scene and numerous All French Car Days around the country.