MYTH BUSTER

De­bunk­ing the most com­mon old wives’ tales

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - News -

1 IT’S THE PI­O­NEER ‘TWO-BOX’ HATCH

Not so. That ac­co­lade be­longs to the Austin A40 ‘Fa­rina’ Coun­try­man, which ap­peared about two years be­fore the Re­nault 4 was un­veiled. While Re­nault’s of­fer­ing was in­deed the first small car with a one-piece, top-hinged tail­gate, the lit­tle Austin was more in the id­iom of the su­per­mini later typ­i­fied by the Ford Fi­esta, with two doors in a ‘two-box’ pro­file – the Re­nault 4 was a five-door car from be­gin­ning to end. The A40’s tail­gate was split hor­i­zon­tally, Range Rover-style, with a lift-up win­dow above and a drop-down sec­tion be­low.

2 OUTSHONE BY 2CV

Many peo­ple con­sider Citroën’s two-cylin­der 2CV to be a rather more char­ac­ter­ful French ve­hi­cle, with its air-cooled, twin­cylin­der en­gine, un­for­get­table tin snail looks, and its over­all lev­els of min­i­mal­ism. Lat­terly, the 2CV stopped bet­ter too, with front discs, while the 4 sol­diered on to be­come the last French car with all-round drums. But the Re­nault 4 was far more suc­cess­ful. The 2CV sold 5,114,267 ex­am­ples be­tween 1948 and 1990. Yet Re­nault shifted 8,135,422 ex­am­ples of its 4 be­tween 1961 and 1992. That makes the Re­nault 4 the fifth best­selling sin­gle car de­sign ever, while the 2CV doesn’t even make the top 10. How­ever, in a quirk of fate, both cars ended their days be­ing man­u­fac­tured in Por­tu­gal.

3 THE REAR SEATS COULD BE FOLDED

Su­per-low run­ning costs, com­fort on rough roads and ver­sa­til­ity were among the Re­nault 4’s list of key at­tributes. Cer­tainly, there was a huge amount of cargo space in the back – almost as much as in the small­est pur­pose-de­signed vans of the early 1960s. How­ever, the tubu­lar-framed seats used in the first few years were all fixed; the bench in the back couldn’t be folded, al­though it could be un­bolted and re­moved en­tirely so you could carry your new wash­ing ma­chine home. Only later, when the seat­ing was re­designed, was a fold­ing rear bench made part of the pack­age. Giles Chap­man

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