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Renault 4 GTL. Driving a mature evergreen.

ER Classics Desktop 2022

In 2020, Peter de Roy from Schalsum bought a beautiful Renault 4 GTL from Gerard Kramer Classics in Wolvega. The excellent Renault comes from the last Dutch delivery year of the now sixty-year-old Renault 4. Auto Motor Klassiek drove with the little Frenchman, who (again) pleasantly surprised in several ways.

In total, the Renault 4 GTL was on the Dutch program for more than eight years. The 4 GTL was introduced in January 1978. It got the larger 1.108 cc engine and a long-ratio gearbox. Furthermore, the 4 GTL was recognizable by a more luxurious finish, wide strips on the sides, an extra air inlet under the grille, wheels with ventilation holes and gray details. In addition, the GTL, for example, received more luxurious upholstery materials. Later on things like the upholstery and the dashboard changed. For example, the 4 GTL also received front disc brakes from model year 1983. Peter's car is from 1986 and has it mutations so on board.

Excellent buy

It is clear after an afternoon of driving that Peter made an excellent purchase with his Renault. This largely original Renault looks very nice. It received a new coat of paint a few years ago, and the wheels also received a cosmetic treatment. However, you can see from all sides that the basis for these retouches was excellent. And that also applies to the technical condition, everything works properly, more than.

Very reliable and smooth engine

The extremely reliable and quiet 1.108 cc Cléon-Fonte engine (34 hp) shows this. This power source, in combination with the gearbox with long transmission ratios, needs little revs and an early torque peak to get off to a good start. This combination and the overlap of the resistances make fast shifting maneuvers unnecessary in this 4 GTL. in three pulling to XNUMX kilometers per hour does not even involve a high number of revolutions. In the fourth gear, the engine even runs at a really low speed at the same and lower speeds.

Comfortable, lean in the corners

The smooth and fine engine characteristics match the comfortable character of the Renault, which the R4 owes in part to its well-functioning torsion suspension and smooth damping. That suspension-damping characteristic entails a sloping carriage in bends, without the Renault going off-balance. The cornering behavior at higher speed gives some boost to the character of the Viertje, which remains well manageable and warns on time. Furthermore, the noise level within the interior - partly due to the low speed characteristic of the power source - is quite acceptable.


The Renault 4 GTL is easy to drive. The operation is child's play. Call it handy, call it simple, but driving a Renault 4 certainly requires no effort in this GTL configuration. This also has to do with the fairly light steering, the clear number of buttons, the gearbox that shifts with long strokes but confidently and the simple operation of brakes and clutch. The pedals are a bit close together, but you get used to it quickly. The brakes are not power-assisted, but thanks to the set of discs on the front wheels (standard for several years in 1986), the deceleration is adequate. Furthermore, the Renault couples well. In short, driving this Renault is very pleasant.

Freedom of movement, practical convenience

Within the simple and cozy interior (with “R5 clock shop”) you take a seat on fine and comfortable sitting furniture, which is covered with a fine patterned fabric. Nice details are the clock in the middle of the dashboard and the audio section: a centrally placed console in the middle with two speakers. The optional radio is also in the console and is original. Back to the functionalities. The steering wheel is easy to grip, it's not a big hoop. The wheel is easy to use. Due to the high construction of the body, there is a pleasant amount of freedom of movement for head, shoulders, knees and toes. When you look back, you can see that there is enough space in the back for two passengers. The space on offer is never at the expense of the cosiness on board. The structure of the body also provides a quite practical loading space. After opening the tailgate, you can lose quite a bit of luggage, the flat loading floor is also low (due to the lack of the rear drive construction). And when the rear seats are folded, the transport options are even endless. Even then, the Renault benefits from its height.

Movement in bodywork above 100 kilometers per hour

That height also has its downside. When the Renault is driven to speeds above 100 kilometers per hour (and that goes faster than you think with the 1.108 cc engine and the fine gearbox, within 22 seconds you reach a speed of 100 kilometers per hour) you notice that it is all a bit becomes more restless. The interplay of the non-self-supporting body and the chassis then becomes a bit more agile. That is emotionally less enjoyable. However, this dexterity has hardly any influence on the generally good driving stability. But still: when you limit the speed to 100 kilometers per hour, you have the most fun with this Frenchman, who feels solid enough in all relativity. Moreover, you hardly detect a creaking or a rattle. Within that science, the door straps, the tiny and no longer visible door hinges and the sliding windows are charming, which make cranking unnecessary.

In 1986 still a great alternative

Of course: in 1986 the Renault 4 had already existed for twenty-five years, and the constructive principles were already outdated by then. Moreover, the Renault in 1986 was not a price pack, not even within the lower price range. But there was something necessary in return. Even today, you can benefit from the versatility and usability of a Renault 4 without any problems on a daily basis, especially when it comes to the GTL with its fine 1.108 cc engine. With a little policy you can drive it to the country of origin in no time. That says a lot about the suspected and unexpected qualities that the Renault harbors. He is particularly surprising as a GTL, and more mature than his modesty would suggest.

Photos: © Bart Spijker


Give a reaction
  1. beautiful car that even after this facelift only became more attractive, had a girlfriend in 1978 with a copy with an open roof, you understand I fell in love .... Later as a poor student I also bought one for 750 guilders, with a new bottom plate… I had absolutely no idea about the construction of this car so that seemed very attractive to me. We took it on holiday to France.. on the way it turned out to be a problem: at the rear left the suspension turned out to be secured in the inner fender with a non-original bolt, if I remember correctly.. I tightened the bolt and continued the journey to Pilat la dune . Car parked next to a motorcycle. On return, the motorcycle turned out to have fallen over because of the hot asphalt: a major dent in the rear door. The motorcyclist was waiting for me, exchanged data and asked his insurance for a statement of the damage, I went to the Renault garage: a new door had to be put in and sprayed, I don't know the exact amount anymore but had the purchase price returned….because of the bad wheel suspension put the car for sale with a mention of the problem and caught something for it .. Never happened to me again a free car….

  2. Criticism is of all times, positive or negative. But I still remember the tests in Auto-Motor und Sport where the 4 was put to the test, almost completely stripped down and how people thought it possible for a world brand like Renault to sell such a car in '82 with dry eyes. dare to bring. At 100 km/h the car was at 80% of its power and with a frontal the gear lever was a cudgel in the heart. Well….. Now everything is better… we live in blocks of boxes… television quiz (quote: Wim Sonneveld)

  3. R4, a car from the time when people were still trying to get everyone in their car and to make the whole country mobile by offering simple, affordable, straightforward cars for everyone.
    Very different from today, where today's, almost unaffordable and far too complex cars are crammed with superfluous gadgets and you are given a feeling of guilt if you dare to drive them.

  4. a look back shows that there is enough space for two people, that puts a smile on my face. About 35 years ago we were on holiday in France with friends. On the way back, our new Opel, just over 3000 km, stopped at exactly midnight in the middle of Paris on the boulevard Admiral Brui. The depanneur took a while so that my wife and both daughters got into their R4 with the friends, where that family with their two children was already in. Both families also had a folding trailer hanging behind the car. The seven of us in an R4 home from Paris went well. also with folding trailer behind. It took me almost a day longer to get home. So if there were only two in the back, they would have plenty of space. Since that time, Il est cinq heure Paris s'eveille has been a song that keeps reminding me of that.

  5. Since my father has driven several 4's, and I even managed to bury one (with a 3-speed gearbox), I am of the opinion that the piece of belt is not a hinge but the door catch.
    They were simple, but not that simple…

    • Dear Jinny.

      That's right, the hinges are no longer visible from the outside on the later model years. The straps do, of course, support and block during hinges.

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