70 years of Renault 4 CV

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Renault’s cream cake turns 70

70 years of Renault 4 CV-Volksauto

Amazingly compact for a four-door: the Renault 4CV, here on a picture from 1953, has become a real world success over the years

Source: Renault

In 1946 Renault presented a tiny rear-engined car that heralded the nationwide motorization of France. But the 4CV also sparked the fantasies of car buyers in Germany.

E.in a new people’s car in the gloomy times of the destroyed post-war Europe: 70 years ago that aroused even greater longings than butter or even delicious cream, which was only available on a coupon – and associations to which the Renault 4CV presented at the Paris Salon in 1946 owed its two nicknames: " Cremeschnittchen "in Germany and" motte de beurre "in France, which means" lumps of butter. "

70 years of Renault 4 CV-VW Beetle

Secretly developed during World War II: the first prototype of the Renault 4CV

Source: Renault

The small car was initially only delivered in a light paintwork. This was due to the remnants from the Second World War, which had just ended, in which the German military crew had prescribed the Renault works to paint trucks for the Wehrmacht in dark yellow. The color, which has now been renamed "ivory", made the new Renault shine in a friendly manner in a time of dominating gray tones. Above all, however, the four-door model secretly developed during the war years was a harbinger of peaceful times and unimagined automotive prosperity.

Similarities to the VW Beetle

The rounded shapes, the rear engine and the rear swing axle of the Renault 4CV were reminiscent of the VW Beetle – but with that the similarities were exhausted. With a length of 3.61 meters, the people’s vehicle from Renault played in a more compact league and thus established the rise of Regie Renault, which was nationalized in 1945, to become one of the world’s largest small car manufacturers.

70 years of European people’s cars

70 years of Renault 4 CV-Germany

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In autumn 1944, the management of the aircraft manufacturer Saab decided to manufacture cars. The first design drafts for the Saab 92 come from the aerospace engineer Gunnar Ljungstrom, the final design language is defined by industrial designer Sixten Sason.

Source: Saab

70 years of Renault 4 CV-Germany

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A prototype of the 92 is shown to Saab management on June 4, 1947. Only six days later, on June 10th, the press presentation will take place.

Source: Saab

70 years of Renault 4 CV-cream slice

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In September 1944, Volvo presented the PV 444 as the first affordable vehicle from Swedish production. The delivery of the first Volvo PV 444 will start on February 3rd of this monththe following year.

Source: Volvo

70 years of Renault 4 CV-rear-wheel drive

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Louis Renault died in 1944, but the Renault 4 CV small car project he launched was promoted by Renault, which was nationalized after the end of the war.

Source: Renault

70 years of Renault 4 CV-France

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The Renault 4 CV finally celebrated its premiere in 1946.

Source: Renault

70 years of Renault 4 CV-Ferdinand Alexander (born 1935)

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In 1944, Peugeot started developing the 203 model, which was to replace the 202 and 402 models as a standard model. The Peugeot 203 made its debut in 1948.

Source: Peugeot

70 years of Renault 4 CV-Volksauto

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The production version of the Citroën 2 CV makes its debut at the neighboring stand.

Source: Citroën

70 years of Renault 4 CV-Grande Nation

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A year later, the Peugeot 203 range was expanded to include the Kombi Familiale.

Source: Peugeot

70 years of Renault 4 CV-subscription slip

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From 1951 the Peugeot 203 was also available as a convertible.

Source: Peugeot

70 years of Renault 4 CV-Porsche

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In England, the development of a small car designed by Alec Issigonis was finalized in 1944. The Morris Minor is to be built at the Cowley plant near Oxford.

Source: BMC

70 years of Renault 4 CV-small car

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Four years later, the Morris Minor made its debut at London’s Earls Court Motor Show and was available for purchase shortly afterwards.

Source: BMC

70 years of Renault 4 CV-cream slice

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The Fiat 500 B Topolino celebrated its premiere in Geneva in 1948.

Source: Fiat

70 years of Renault 4 CV-oldtimer

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A few months later, the Fiat 500 is in Turin as a small family station wagon, Giardiniera Belvedere.

Source: Fiat

The almost tiny dimensions for a family-friendly four-door model brought the Renault 4CV considerable success in Japan (Hino license) and Spain (FASA license). Even the Americans were enthusiastic about the charmingly drawn Gallic gnome, which would go down in history as the most-built French car up to that point.

Of all people, Renault owed its vertical start into the ranks of the largest European car manufacturers to a former railway employee and convinced cyclist: the French government appointed General Director Pierre Lefaucheux saved the Renault works from the planned conversion into a pure commercial vehicle manufacturer. He had the small car, which had been designed in secret, ready for series production and prepared for the first French motor show of the post-war period.

The people’s car of the Grande Nation

There, the four-seater, powered by a four-cylinder with just 17 hp, should cause a sensation as the most economical and inexpensive French sedan. Much earlier than the Citroën 2CV, it was supposed to go into mass production, but until then, the smallest Renault had to undergo a test ordered by the government, which Ferdinand Porsche, the father of the German Volkswagen, of all people, was supposed to carry out.

How to make a bed in the Renault 16

70 years of Renault 4 CV-small car

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Mid-range classics: The Renault 16 was particularly popular with teachers in the 1970s.

Source: Matthias Leitzke / AUTOSTADT

70 years of Renault 4 CV-subscription slip

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In the meantime it has almost disappeared from the streets, you can only find it concentrated at classic car events.

Source: Matthias Leitzke / AUTOSTADT

70 years of Renault 4 CV-cream slice

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In 2015 this Renault model celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Source: Matthias Leitzke / AUTOSTADT

70 years of Renault 4 CV-subscription slip

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The famous center armrest was not only located between the front seats, but also at the rear.

Source: Matthias Leitzke / AUTOSTADT

70 years of Renault 4 CV-Germany

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The basic version was initially motorized with 55 hp, later there were also models with a maximum of 93 hp.

Source: Matthias Leitzke / AUTOSTADT

70 years of Renault 4 CV-Volksauto

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Thanks to the good-natured suspension, it drives like a sedan.

Source: Matthias Leitzke / AUTOSTADT

70 years of Renault 4 CV-butter lump

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The cockpit is spartan, but it was style-defining at the time.

Source: Matthias Leitzke / AUTOSTADT

70 years of Renault 4 CV-Porsche

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The highlight were the reclining seats.

Source: Matthias Leitzke / AUTOSTADT

70 years of Renault 4 CV-Porsche

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They are only available in the top Grand Luxe equipment.

Source: Matthias Leitzke / AUTOSTADT

Renault General Director Lefaucheux was reluctant, but Porsche apparently had no concerns about the Grande Nation’s people’s car, the basic concept of which was similar to the Kdf car it had developed ten years earlier. While this was now rolling off the assembly line as Volkswagen in Wolfsburg, a name had to be found for the Renault. Up for discussion were Regina, Reginette or Regine, sonorous model names that were intended to provide a reference to the state-owned Regie Renault. In fact, the sober code 4CV was chosen, which referred to the corresponding French tax class.

70 years of Renault 4 CV-Grande Nation

The small 4CV also found a surprising number of fans in the land of road cruisers

Source: Renault

That gave Renault Germany the curious idea of ​​promoting the small car imported from 1948 as a 4-HP model: “Your 4 HP turns the bends into straights. The 4 PS gained its fame in the mountains, but even at high speed it sticks in the sharpest bends on the road ”. An advertising statement to which four wildly galloping horses neighed loudly.

Cornering behavior that takes getting used to

In fact, the press also attested to the sporty agility of the 17-hp Renault, which weighs only 600 kilograms, even though fast cornering with a rear-engined engine was just as difficult for newcomers to get used to as with the VW Beetle.

Citroën Traction Avant – favorite of gangsters

70 years of Renault 4 CV-Ferdinand Alexander (born 1935)

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From 1934 to 1957, the then pioneering Citroën Traction Avant was built virtually unchanged from the outside.

Source: Citroën

70 years of Renault 4 CV-Porsche

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The name Traction Avant simply means front-wheel drive. This type of drive was not yet established when the model was presented in 1934; the Avant Traction was the first car in which this type of drive was installed in large-scale production.

Source: Citroën

70 years of Renault 4 CV-Germany

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Citroën has done pioneering work with the Traction Avant and has made a significant contribution to the fact that the front-wheel drive is due to its great driving safety and good driving comfort later prevailed.

Source: Citroën

70 years of Renault 4 CV-subscription slip

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But not only the type of drive was new at the beginning of the 1930s, the self-supporting body and independent wheel suspension were not yet common at that time.

Source: Citroën

70 years of Renault 4 CV-Volkswagen

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The first type 7A was replaced after only a short time by the more powerfully motorized types 7B and 7C; the type 7S ("Sport") was further developed into the 11A and 11B.

Source: Citroën

70 years of Renault 4 CV-rear-wheel drive

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These later became known colloquially as "7CV" and "11CV", named after their French tax classes.

Source: Citroën

70 years of Renault 4 CV-Porsche

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The low center of gravity, the wide track and the long wheelbase were ideal conditions for good driving behavior. That must have been the reasons why the car was often used as an escape vehicle in the past. The name "Gangster-Citroën" has survived to this day.

Source: Citroen

70 years of Renault 4 CV-Renault

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In 1978, on the occasion of Andre Citroën’s 100th birthday, the Traction Avant even made it onto a postage stamp in France.

Source: Citroën

70 years of Renault 4 CV-Renault 4

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More than three quarters of a million Traction Avant were built between 1934 and 1957.

Source: Citroën

Its hour struck in a direct duel with the Renault 4CV not only on mountain passages, where its four-speed transmission was superior to the three gear stages of the Gaul, but above all in North America. The tiny Renault won a surprising number of fans in the land of road cruisers from 1950 onwards, but the creamy cake could not compete with the almost indestructible mechanics of the Wolfsburg crawling animal on the endlessly long highways.

For this, the Renault 4CV promoted motorization in South American and African countries and went into production in several license versions. The huge collection of trophies that the 4CV gathered during motorsport assignments was also impressive. Whether it’s the Mille Miglia, Le Mans or the Monte Carlo Rally, there is hardly a race of rank in which the Renault did not garner laurels.

70 years of Renault 4 CV-butter lump

The Renault 4CV was also used in the French sphere of influence in North Africa

Source: Renault

The national automobile hero, built in the main plant in Billancourt, also added numerous entries to the annals of the world speed records, most of which were achieved in Montlhery with streamlined bodies or more powerful engines. The street version also benefited from the additional muscles, so from 1949 at least 21 hp were available; Two years later, the 32 hp sports version Renault 4CV R 1063 followed.

Spectacular special series

The Renault 4CV produced another superlative in the studios and production facilities of designers and bodyworkers: No other four-door model of the post-war period was transformed into coupes, convertibles, roadsters, barquettes, coaches or beach cars in so many ways: Over 40 body variants were created from the Renault 4CV, often at Body specialists who are long forgotten today.

Renault Supercinq – the fastest among the little ones

70 years of Renault 4 CV-cream slice

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Hello, it’s me, the Renault Supercinq! – In September 1984 the second generation of the Renault 5 was presented and given the nickname Supercinq. From the first genesration, more than five million vehicles had been built.

Source: Renault

70 years of Renault 4 CV-post-war Europe

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Marcello Gandini, who had previously designed vehicles for Lamborghini and Maserati, was responsible for the design.

Source: Renault

70 years of Renault 4 CV-Grande Nation

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The small car was still offered as a three- and five-door model.

Source: Renault

70 years of Renault 4 CV-France

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The top version was the Renault 5 GT Turbo with 115 hp. With this motorization, the small car won …

Source: Renault

70 years of Renault 4 CV-special series

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… numerous racing titles. However, the 408 hp Renault 5 Turbo 2 Maxi, with which Ragnotti took first place in the Tour de Corse rally, had even more power.

Source: Renault

70 years of Renault 4 CV-Porsche

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The cockpit looked quite futuristic at the time. A floating screen covered the instruments.

Source: Renault

70 years of Renault 4 CV-Porsche

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In 1990 Renault presented the successor to the R5 with the Clio, but the small car was built in Slovenia until 1996. In the rest of Europe, Schluss.

Source: Renault

Including names like Delery (4 CV Coach), Durand (4 CV Coach Polyester), Duriez (4CV Cabriolet) or Garzinsky (4CV 1063 Sport Berlinette), but also world-famous studios like Ghia (4CV Jolly). The resourceful Renault dealer Jean Redele also presented his first Alpine racer of the A 106 type with drive technology and floor pan from the Renault 4CV. Already at the Mille Miglia in 1956, the 4CV-derived Alpine drove away from the Italian Abarth, which is used to victory, with a sensational average of 110 km / h.

70 years of Renault 4 CV-Grande Nation

The 4CV was the first Renault to cross the million mark in 1958. More than 1.1 million copies had been built by the time production was stopped in 1961.

Source: Renault

In addition to the regular model updates, it was these spectacular special series that kept the Renault 4CV talking. Its sales figures therefore only peaked after nine years, and demand did not break until the last year of production, 1961. Then the front-wheel drive era began with the box-shaped Renault 4. (S-PX)

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