Renault 4 (1961 – 1992) Review

Renault 4 (1961 – 1992) At A Glance


+Classless, ageless, great to drive, exceptionally practical and good fun

-Still in daily use in France, but in the UK rare and rusty

The Renault 4 was built as an answer to Citroen's 2CV, and clearly it was influenced by that car. But the 4 improved on its French rival by offering a little more room, a more conventional driving experience, and the wonderful added bonus of a wide-opening hatchback.

The groundbreaking front-wheel drive hatchback proved to be an enormous hit for its maker, notching up more than eight million sales during a 31-year career. It was utterly simple in some places yet complex in others, but Renault was still learning how to do front-wheel drive in this car. Quirks included the dashboard-mounted gearlever – which proved wonderfully direct, and necessary because the transmission was mounted in front of the engine – plus a different wheelbase on each side.

The six engines available ranged from 603cc to 1108cc, but power stayed between the limits of 23bhp and 34bhp, so all can be driven utterly flat out on British roads and never really run the risk of the driver receiving a speeding ticket on the motorway. As well as the five-door hatchback, there was also a van, 4x4 and a beach car known as the Plein Air. Look out also for the short-lived, stripped-out and utterly charming basic model known as the Renault 3.

Ask Honest John

Where can I get an accessory type head restraint for my Renault 4?

"I have a 1980s Renault 4 but it has no front head restraints. Having had major neck surgery a few years ago I'm keen to have something. I'm struggling to find a pair of slide on, accessory, head restraints. Any ideas?"
Does it have the fixing for the headrests? If so measure them and have a look for some from a Rover 800 - I believe these fit certain models.
Answered by Keith Moody

I am buying a 1972 Renault 4TL - do I need to use a fuel additive with this motor?

"I am buying a 1972 Renault 4TL. Do I need to use a fuel additive with this motor? "
Ask the current owner if he's been using an additive. With no lead in fuel, many owners were worried about valve seat recession - but to be honest, the low mileages done by classics mean that this is less of a problem. What tends to cause issues is the octane rating of fuel so you may find that your Renault 4 runs better on a high-octane fuel or with an octane booster.
Answered by Keith Moody

I want to buy a UK registered car in Spain but it has no paperwork - what can I do?

"I have been offered a 1982 Renault 4 GTL but it has no paperwork. The car is in Spain on UK-plates. Can I somehow get new papers for this car so I can use it in Spain? The owner lives in London and can't remember what she did as far as registration but seems to remember getting it from someone in UK then driving it to her little country villa here in Spain and it's been in the garage since. What can I do? "
You'll need to let the DVLA know that the car's been permanently exported and then start the process of registering it in Spain. So the owner will have to reapply for a V5C. I believe cars over 30 years old can apply for a 'H' (heritage) numberplate in Spain but there is a cost for this. It does include certification and an ITV test (the Spanish equivalent of our MoT).
Answered by Keith Moody

My son wants to buy a classic car in Morocco and drive it home to the UK - what are the pitfalls of him doing this?

"My son is a student on a year abroad in Morocco. He's fallen in love with an ancient Renault 4 (left hand drive). He wants to buy it and drive it home to the UK. What are the pitfalls of him doing this?"
If he's serious, he'll need to do some planning - stops for fuel, food, and rest are essential. He'll also need to stock up on spares and make sure the car is in good nick. There'll be additional travel costs too - a ferry over to Spain and then a crossing from France to the UK. Once the car is back, he'll need to inform HMRC about it, pay any VAT or duty that they tell him to, make sure the car meets UK safety regulations, then tax, MoT and insure it. You can read more about importing a car here:
Answered by Keith Moody
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