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One of the best selling vehicles of all time, the Renault 4, is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2011, and the French manufacturer has a number of events in store to mark the occasion.

The Renault 4 started as an idea of then-Renault President Pierre Dreyfus in 1956. He wanted his company to manufacture a “blue jeans” car – one that would be versatile, inexpensive, adaptable to the changes of society in the 1960s, and most importantly, be relevant around the world.

After five years on the drawing board, the Renault 4 became the marque’s first front-wheel drive passenger car when it was displayed at the 1961 Paris Motor Show. A van and three saloon versions of the 4 were launched simultaneously.

Over its lifespan, the Renault 4 was sold in more than 100 countries and produced or assembled in 28 – including in Heidelberg in Victoria.

In Italy, it was marketed under the name “Frog”, in Spain it was nicknamed “four boxes”, in Yugoslavia it was called “Catherine”, in Argentina it was known as the “path runner”, in Finland it became “Droplet” and in Zimbabwe it was known simply as the “Noddy Car”.

Its comfortable and practical interior, low running costs and versatility made it a favourite among the masses, and by the end of its 31-year production life a total of 8,135,424 rolled out of Renault factories.

Variants of the 4 included a four-wheel drive and a cabriolet version, while a number of limited edition models – like the Rodeo, Parisienne, Safari, Jogging, and Sixties – also played a role in Renault 4 history.

In 1992, a special edition “Bye-Bye” version was also produced to salute the vehicle’s success, and production finally ended in Slovenia and Morocco in 1994.

Kicking off the celebrations next year will be three vehicles that have been entered into January’s historic 2011 Monte Carlo Rally. The original Renault 4 competed in the Monte Carlo Rally in 1962, although with just a 15kW engine on board, could manage no better than last place.

In February, the car will be showcased at the Retromobile classic car show in Paris, and in July the 4 will be given red carpet treatment at the third 4L International event in Loire Valley.

  • A

    I don’t know quite what it is, but I think they look brilliant! A classic indeed.

  • http://BMW Crownleyian

    I cannot understand how Australia does not embrace Renault.

    Magnificent cars, the Megane is the best seller in some countries in Europe.
    But here people just prefer the bland low budget cheap Corolla.
    The Corolla only now has Side Airbags, my old Clio MK-II from 2003 already had side Airbags and it was the cheap model.

    I hope Renault will be around in Australia years to come, especially the magnificent Renault Sport Range.

    Renault Sport for the Win!

    • Steve-Poyza

      Apparently the Laguna coupé is finally being seriously considered for Australia. I really hope we’ll be seeing its sexy ass soon :)

      • Spoken

        They Cost Too Much

    • Brett

      I have a Renault Sport…. drives nice, falls to bits real good too. Heap of junk. 22,000 engine mount gone, both steering arms gone. Think a god darn Alpha would have been better! $56,000 for a new one… no thanks!

  • si1982

    Renault needs to bring their smaller cars – Clio and Twingo (not just the hot versions!) to Australia to get people interested in the cars and build some brand loyalty…

    At the moment people will buy a Golf instead of a Megane ..

    I was very disappointed when Renault stopped selling the Clio in Australia.

    • Crownleyian

      I don’t understand why they stopped selling the Clio.
      The Clio MK-II sold pretty well I see allot of them on the road.

      Renault Australia has to stop treating their cars as prestige, they are not prestige, unless you buy the prestige model.
      They are Renault the peoples brand for the majority of Europe.

      Prestige is the Renault Sports edition but even those are overpriced. If the Clio RS250 Cup was 36k drive away they would sell much more.

      They say it’s the governments charges, well if so stop treating your cars as Prestige.

      Renault is the Peoples cars.

  • Gromit

    It’s easy to understand why Australians are reluctant to purchase a Renault.

    Dealers are few and far between.
    After sales service is reported to be poor.
    Resale is poor.
    Equivalent cars are expensive when compared to other established brands here.

    I’d have a Renault in an instant, but those factors alone would certainly make me hesitate when handing over my cash.

    • Radbloke

      Add to that a bad reputation for woeful reliability and a savage repair bill to match. They are a lot better of late, but these things aren’t forgotten quickly.

      • Brett

        From my wallet, no not a lot better of late.

  • Lars

    Renault sould not follow Peugeot’s mistake by attempting to sell ordinary cars as European luxury products and billing you accordingly specially when you go to service. I like Renaults and feel that they deserve fair go in Australia perhaps by starting to sell cheaper models for younger people in cool style and colors like they do in Europe.

    • Captain Nemo

      Lars i couldn’t agree with you more.

      Look at Skoda for example they are being flogged as premium cars in Oz i was sold an Octavia it me cost over $42K. And the thing is falling to bits in just over 1yr of ownership after sale service is poor & service costs are high. I bet if Dacia was to come to Australia they would be sold as a premium product simply because of their Euro origin.

    • Able

      Very ordinary cars*

      (referring to Peugeots). I haven’t read a relatively good review about a new Peugeot in Australia for years – they all have big faults about them. Typical French-lovers say awwwwwww but they’re so stylish! Yeah maybe, but that doesn’t forgive other shortcomings…

  • Luke Brinsmead

    The original hatchback, after the Citroën Traction Avant.

  • PROJET – L

    Brilliant little car.
    Love the Quatrelle.

  • John of Perth

    I think Renault sold better in the late 60’s/early 70’s than they do now – cars like the 8, 10, 12 & 16TS were very popular.

  • Darcy Dunbar

    I had one of these from near new.
    Unbelievably comfortable, capacious, amazing handling, great economy and performance (for 850cc), tough, and simple. The first hatchback/wagon (before the R16). Infinitely better than the Mini of the day, but marketing is everything in Australia, so it never had the sales it deserved.

  • celica(silly car)

    20 years from now this will be my weekend ride that i ll tinker with and bond over with my unborn child. this is what a taxi looked like in the eighties in africa. rode in these everywhere. might even paint it the taxi co livery. loved the top mounted gear lever that came straight through the firewall and  middle of the dashboard from the engine bay.Classic. vive le renault 4! Thanks for the memories.

  • Ti’s mate

    The R4 was my favourite car. Absolutely.
    To put that in perspective, I currently drive a Mercedes with AMG bits.

    My R4 had a very good engine and the car would run faster than the speedo’s maximum of 80 mph , or about 130kph. It did need a long run up to get to max speed, of course. That is just amazing for a such a small-engined car, and it also amazing that I lived to tell the tale.
    On one highway trip, I averaged 80mph. I have no idea what the maximum speed was.

    To improve road holding, I had the tyres at 40 psi front and 50 psi rear. I am not making this up.

    The R4 was excellent off road as well, which I reckon was due to the long travel of the suspension.

    Every female passenger commented on the comfy seats, and every male passenger commented on the gear lever coming out through the dash. Yes, everyone loved it.

    The gearbox was unusual, with only three gears. Only three including reverse, as you selected forward or reverse when in ‘low’ gear. Let’s be honest, the whole car was unsual. Totally loved it. Must get another one when I retire and have the time to fiddle around.