CAR OF 1961 RENAULT 4
1961 presents many choices for car of the year; aside from the Jaguar E-type or Mini Cooper, there is the Citroën Ami 6, the Simca 1000, the Jaguar MkX, the VW Type 3, the Triumph TR4 or the Lancia Flavia. But for millions of drivers, one of the key motoring developments was the launch of the Renault 4. After years of the diamond badge being associated with small rearengined cars, the R4 was the first front-wheel drive car from La RŽgie.
Its wheelbase was three inches longer on the right to accommodate the rear torsion bars and the engine was air-cooled and devoid of grease points – essential for Renault’s African markets. ‘Four seats and four big doors, scarcely a cubic inch of useless space that cannot carry something, a suspension system that can cope with ploughed field and boulevard alike,’ mused Autocar in 1963.
The R4 was offered at a very reasonable cost – the De Luxe’s £581 5s 3d was quite a bargain for a car with a standard heater. The body was sublimely minimalist and it was great fun to drive. Success seemed inevitable, with anyone needing space for ‘children, prams, wives, groceries, husbands, dogs, bags, baggage – and room to spare besides.’