Renault 4 (1985): More than just a car for Olivier

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In the 60s, Renault needed a car that could transport both people and goods at the lowest possible cost. The goal was to create Renault's “Ugly Duckling”. Although the car stood out because of its angular shape, it did meet the requirements. This new appearance was introduced in 1961 and the conquest of the French market – and later that of Europe – could begin!

Olivier bought this car in Braine-l'Alleud, Belgium. He describes his love for “Lucienne” as follows:

The quest

“I was looking for an older model for my first car. The Renault 4 was the only one that fit within my budget. During the test drive I immediately fell in love and gave her the name Lucienne. She had no rear windows, was white (blanc panda 348), had the smallest engine of 845 cm³ with 34 hp and was the simplest version. The seats were nothing more than a steel frame with some seat fabric. But she had a practical layout and handy storage spaces. Lucienne is simply fantastic!”

In decent shape

Olivier: “I bought her in reasonably good condition, but she had not driven enough with the previous owner. As a result, the engine was a bit tired and she only reached 80 kilometers per hour. After a thorough technical check and replacing the ignition, she drove like new again.”

Fight against corrosion

Olivier: “After six years, rust appeared on all four fenders. The bottom and tank had to be replaced. During my holiday my father replaced many parts and the car got a new coat of paint. The interior remained original, only the hood was replaced. I care for Lucienne with a lot of love and attention to detail. When I bought her she had black bumpers, plastic mirrors and door handles, all in poor condition. I gave her an 80's touch with the stickers on the front and rear windows. There is even an old Michelin map in a holder, a Renault fountain pen, an ELF parking ticket and a Renault umbrella in the car.”

We came across this car with a Belgian license plate in a small village in Normandy, France, where Olivier was on holiday with friends. Auto Motor Klassiek is also a popular magazine in Belgium that reaches many people's doorsteps every month. Olivier wanted to share the story of his steely girlfriend Lucienne. If you have a special classic and would like to share your experiences, we would love to hear from you. The stories can be shared with other enthusiasts both online and in the magazine.

Freedom and joy

For Olivier, driving means pure freedom, and wherever he goes, in both Belgium and France, Lucienne attracts a lot of attention. Its most important 'vitamin' is A (Attention). As a Belgian reader and fan of Auto Motor Klassiek he is happy to share his story.

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12 comments

  1. I have had five “4's”, 3 TL's (850 cc engine) and 2 GTLS (1100 cc engine), the last 3 of which run on LPG. For me it is the car of the post-war period: reliable (1 of the 5 has let me down once in the 13 years that I have driven an R4), extremely functional (with 2 children, a large garden , an active tent camper), comfortable, economical (1 in 22 petrol at 80 km/h, overall 1 in 13 LPG). Indeed the first space car. Disadvantages: Indeed the corrosion and the somewhat maintenance-sensitive electrical installation. The 2CV doesn't come close (certainly not with a headwind!)

  2. Rust, we are talking about a French car and it is mainly about rust. The R4 rusted just like many (most) iron cars at that time tended to do. End of discussion 😉
    In addition to the 2CV/Dyane, the R4/6 was a comfortable car that transported farmers, citizens and rural residents in an economical and enjoyable way. For the R4: today's SUV is basically the shape of the R4.

  3. My brother, more blessed unfortunately, "thoroughly" replaced a number of holes in the bottom of his first car, an R4, by riveting the lids of the well-known "Vegters rolls of tins" into them. This went very well, a thick layer of Bitac was applied and off we went. I myself have had a confrere or soeur of the R4 for many years. A red duck. Once lost the roof in a heavy storm. It reached as far as Norway. Just put the driver's seat in and go. Camper avant la lettre. What an experience. It was all possible. French cars, made for convenience and comfort. Thanks. “Mille fois”.

  4. As far as I know, this model without the rear side windows was a Renault R3, the entry-level model with a small engine and otherwise very basic.

    The Renault R3 was only produced for one year and is therefore very rare.

  5. As Duck Drivers we called the R4 the Fake Duck. But it was a real car, where you could already cruise at 1972 km/h on the highway with the 120 version. Little noise, same fuel consumption, same purchase price, better heater.
    Yes, what do you choose?

  6. A (unfortunately deceased) friend was renovating when he needed 400 kg of pebbles. 8 bags of 50 kg loaded into the R4 fourgonette and on our way. Rear end a fraction of the ground, but 6 km further we made it home. Used as a “truck” throughout the renovation period. Great fun!

  7. I once asked my late mother why we had a duck and not an R4. Because the R4 is a workers' house, was her answer. That's right, the duck is Burgundian.

    But now workers' house has also become quite a nickname. And look: today's SUVs have the basic line of the R4.

  8. I can still remember the introduction year of 1961. In Utrecht (nationally?) they had come up with a promotional stunt by letting students drive through the city with R4s. You could then keep it for a test drive.
    I thought my R4 Export was brilliant in concept, with some minor drawbacks. If you didn't fall through the seats, you regularly had to release the rotted rear brakes. And the driveshaft consumption was notorious. They broke at high torque, i.e. low speed, and that's why I was dying to continue driving them until they gave up the ghost. With a few exchange axles in the back you were on your way again fairly quickly. Only need to apply twice.

  9. The same copy with rear side windows was obtained for 50 pure hard guilders through my father (then employed at Renault Amsterdam Dloterdijk…forgot the name… Was one of my first cars of which I had the most beautiful and unimaginable adventures!!! I now have about 1 different cars and I always use this cheapest one as an anecdote ;-p

  10. I don't think they were ever delivered in the Netherlands without a rear window. Maybe only as a roadside assistance car.
    Mine was from 1969. The big problem then was that the drive shafts sometimes had to be replaced.
    Were taken by the garage and overhauled I thought.

  11. My father had 4, one was so bad at one point that it was buried in the garden..
    The demolition company only wanted money for the thing...
    As far as I know, it is still there three owners away...

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