Renault 4 (1961 - 1992) - The Buying Guide
The R4: who has never been in this car? The people's car, the letter carrier's car, the gendarme's car, the car in which your grandfather travelled for sure. Today it has become a collector's item, or a rally car, but 60 years later it still has some left in it. We will show you all the chapters of this saga so that you can know everything about the 4L.
Released in 1961, more than 60 years ago, the second front-wheel drive car of the diamond brand appeared 2 years after the Estafette, the first Renault to adopt this mode of transmission. And the figures speak for themselves: it is the second best-selling French car in the world with 8.1 million sales (the first being the Peugeot 206).
Without further ado, let's get to the heart of the matter:
Existing engines :
- Billancourt motors :
- 603 cc, 23 hp, torque: 42 N m (1961 - 1962)
- 747 cc, 27.6 hp, torque: 50 N m (1961 - 1972)
- 782 cc, 30 hp, torque: 53 N m (1972 - 1983)
- 845 cc, 30 hp, torque: 58 N m (1962 - 1986)
- Cléon-Fonte engines:
- 956 cc, 34 hp, torque: 61 N m (1986 - 1992)
- 1108 cc, 34 hp, torque: 74 N m (1978 - 1992)
The evolution of calendars:
The story of a franchise that never ends:
The R3 (1961 - 1962), a cheap version of the R4 :
The Renault 3 came out in 1961, it was the cheap version of the R4, it had to compete with the 2CV. Only, it did not work and it will be produced only for one year.
Distinctive features: Unlike the R4, it has no chrome, a much simpler bumper and therefore a more modest finish. The big difference lies under the hood, with a different engine that produces 3 fiscal horsepower (compared to 4 for the R4).
Number of copies : 2526
Engine available : 603 Billancourt (1961 - 1962)
The big series :
The original (1961 - 1968), the famous "fourlle":
Distinctive features: It is the very first one, released in 1961, recognizable with its small grille. It has a characteristic interior of the 60s.
Available engines: 747 Billancourt (1961 - 1968) and 845 Billancourt (1965 - 1968)
The R4 Super (1962 - 1964), a different trunk:
Distinctive features: Identical to the initial R4 version, except for its trunk. The classic tailgate is replaced by an ingenious system: the rear windshield slides into the lower half of the tailgate, which itself tilts downwards.
Number of copies : 33 777
Engine: 747 Billancourt
R4 L Export (1968 - 1976), the second generation:
Distinctive features: Its aluminum grille with the Renault diamond on the side, its rounded chrome bumpers and its round turn signals.
Available engines: 845 Billancourt (1968 - 1976) and 782 Billancourt (1971 - 1976)
R4 TL (1976 - 1986), the third generation:
Distinctive features: It takes over from the R4 L Export and benefits from a new black plastic grille to replace the aluminum of the old grilles, as well as rectangular front turn signals. The interior is modernized with more buttons and plastics.
Available engines: 782 Billancourt (1976 - 1982) et 845 Billancourt (1983 - 1986)
R4 TL Savane (1986 - 1992), the last generation:
Distinctive features: This Savane follows the R4 TL with a new engine, a new grey plastic grille and painted bumpers. Also, the dashboard is modernized with a bigger and rounder speedometer and an interior mirror that sticks to the windshield. In short, we can play the game of 7 differences between this version and the previous one.
Engine available : 956 Cléon
R4 GTL which became GTL Clan in 1986 (1978 - 1992) :
Distinctive features: It takes the success of the R5 GTL with the 1108 Cléon to consume less and be more powerful. The grey grille was added in 1978, a "modern" dashboard in 1983, reversing lights integrated in the tailgate in 1989 (which were optional before) and finally, the addition, together with the TL Savane, of the right-hand exterior mirror, essential nowadays with its valiant 34 HP to see the motorcycles in inter-row arrival.
Engine available : 1108 Cléon
F4 (1961 - 1988), the van :
You probably know the F1, the F2 or the F3, but here the f in F4 does not mean "formula", but van.
Distinctive features: The R4 F4 will follow the evolutions of its cousin hatchback.
Number of copies : 2 millions
Available engines: 747 Billancourt (1961 - 1971), 845 Billancourt (1965 - 1983), 782 Billancourt (1972 - 1983) and 1108 Cléon (1975 - 1986)
F6 (1975 - 1986), the big van:
Distinctive features: Now add 20cm and an additional 100kg of load capacity, and we get this F6 which also benefited from a different rear end. It is rarer than the F4 because it was quickly replaced by the Renault Express, competitor of the Citroën C15.
Engine available : 1108 Cléon
The special series :
R4 Parisienne (1963 - 1968), to go to Paris :
Distinctive features: The French touch, the Parisian elegance, the Parisian chic: at the time oriented for Parisian women, this edition was never mass-produced and therefore there are no precise figures for its total production. It is rare to find models still in good condition with collages still present.
Available engines: 747 Billancourt (1963 - 1968) and 845 Billancourt (1963 - 1968)
R4 Plein Air (1968 - 1970), to go to take the air :
The Plein Air model released in 1968 is very rare and was positioned as a beach car. Released the day before the Citroën Mehari (the fruit of a beautiful chance), it will not know the success of its competitor and will disappear discreetly only 2 years after its presentation to the public.
Distinctive features: No doors, no roof, only a soft top. It has the grille of the R4 L Export.
Number of copies : 563
Engine: 845 Billancourt
R4 Sinpar, the 4x4 of all generations:
The Renault 4 Sinpar is not really a special series but a 4L prepared by Sinpar. So you can find any generation of Renault 4 (including special series) transformed into a four wheel drive produced between 1962 and 1992.
In addition to the special editions mentioned above, you will also find the Safari, the Jogging, the JP4, the Sixties (available in 3 colors: blue, red and yellow), the young card and finally the bye bye, to sign the end of the 4L with only 1000 copies, and a small plate inside indicating the number of this rare piece among the 8 135 424 copies of fourlles sold.
Common problems on the 4L :
Good news: the mechanics and running gear of a 4L will never break the bank. Parts are easy to find and easy to replace, except maybe the suspension ball joints which will need more work. Be careful with the bodywork, it's still a 60 years old car, with on top of that a relocation of the production to Yugoslavia during the last years that didn't help the anti-corrosion treatment of this car.
- Wear parts (ball joints, bearings)
- Chassis (corrosion):
- Rear axle
- Front cradle
- Front floor
- Bodywork (weak points to check at the time of purchase) :
- Top of the front wings
- Front cradle
- Windshield bay (aging of the rubber seal which becomes porous)
- Rear door corner
In short, they face corrosion problems.
The engine is very reliable and can reach high mileage, even more so for the Cleon engines (956 and 1108).
Buy a 4L :
At what cost?
1st generation: count between 6000 and 8000€ on average for models in good and competition condition.
2nd generation: count between 6000 and 7500€ on average for models in good and competition condition.
3rd and 4th generation: count between 3500 and 6000€ for models in good and competition condition.
For the latest models, the Savane and GTL Clan, you will have to go up to a price between 4000 and 6500€ for models between good and competition condition.
Concerning the vans, count around 4000€ for a R4 F4 in good condition and around 6000€ for a R4 F6 more difficult to find.
Finally, if you want to buy a JP4, a special edition, you will have to count 14 500€ and if you are looking for a Sinpar it will be about 8000€, still for a model in good condition.
Whether you want to do a rally, have your own country utility or go buy bread in a car for fun on Sundays, and at an affordable price, in 2021 as in '61, the 4L can do it all and will meet all your expectations.