History of Renault 4 from 1904 to the present - Authorizemoving

The Incredible History of Renault 4

Celebrate 60 Years of Cuatrolatas with Aleixandre : History of Renault 4

Already? Seriously? 60 years already? It is the incredible story of the Renault 4. And we celebrate it with a very special Cuatrolatas, a unit that belonged to none other than the poet, and 1977 Nobel Prize winner for Literature,  Vicente Aleixandre

Some cars are limited to following the fashions of the moment, like sunflowers before the star king. Still, on the contrary, others go on their own, as single verses without meter, as poetic licenses outside the norm. 

Rebel seducers on wheels that end up becoming authentic turn-necks at every traffic light or, as Vicente Aleixandre would say, in Giralunas. If we apply this term to the automobile, which he coined in his poem ‘They wanted’ (from ‘The destruction or love,’ 1932) and was later popularized by Luis Eduardo Aute with his music.

Its forms and mechanics barely changed in its 33-year history. The grill differs a bit from the original.

We also sing now, but the ‘Happy Birthday, to the iconic Renault 4 . For revolutionary, innovative, best-selling (more than 8 million units between 1961 to 1994); and also for giraluna and the 60th anniversary of a model that was born with the difficult mission of overshadowing the Citroën 2CV and that would soon chart its course in automotive history.

And what better way to do it than at the wheel of this unit that belonged to the Generation above of 27 poets? A brand new 1965 Renault 4L Super, manufactured by FASA Renault in Valladolid and still fitted with the Ventoux 845 cc and 27 hp engine with which the R4 debuted in Spain in 1963. Even with the same three-speed gearbox!

You make your way by rolling.

The original R4 was presented at the 1961 Frankfurt Motor Show. It was intended to be a car for everything and everyone, valid in the countryside and the city. With more miniature ramshackle shapes than the 2CV and better features, it also rivaled the Fiat 500 and VW Beetle using weapons ahead of their time, typical of the most disturbing fictional literature of the time pursuit better efficiency and maximum habitability.

Robust and straightforward mechanics under the first homologation that was made in Spain in 1963 (R1123). And at the bottom, the crank for emergency starts. 

For instance? A water-cooled engine – with closed circuit and expansion tank – in front position with the gearbox in front, raised lever without transmission tunnel, front-wheel driveindependent suspension on all four wheels – located at the ends of the bodywork – windows sliding, folding rear seat to convert it into a van, four real doors with a hole and metal tongue to open and close without levers or handles and a tailgate never seen before.

First compact 5-door ‘SUV.’

Another of the secrets to improve its available space and its practicality was precisely in that area: a flat and shallow floor thanks to the fact that the exhaust ended just before the left rear wheel; the rear suspension, instead of springs, used a torsion bar system one in front of the other, so the wheelbase was 5 cm longer on the right side.

And as if that weren’t enough, country-style qualities in the style of a current 5-door crossover SUV.

A whole poem

In the photos, you see Don Vicente’s stroller, and I met 15 years ago at the Automobile Research Institute ( INSIA ) of the Polytechnic University of Madrid, which was his home since Agustín Mª Aleixandre, the poet’s cousin, donated to the center in 1987.

And if when I found out about its illustrious owner, my face was a poem, it soon returned to an anthology – of the heart attack – when someone suggested that it would end up in the scrapyard. Destruction or love again? The second, of course! And less to the one who felt the same there and undertook this magnificent restoration in 2009.

Thus, the industrial engineer of the INSIA Juan José Herrero  (on the left of the photo) and his colleague there, the commercial technician Manuel Checa  (on the right of the image), allow me to remember the many kilometers that I did years ago to a Renault 4L Super.

Only now, at the wheel of this exceptional unit and with the first upside down (to the left and towards me), I can imagine Aleixandre breaking his internal exile from Velintonia 3 to rest until his other house in Miraflores de la Sierra (Madrid).

Or to go to the theater, in the center of the capital, among “trees, cars, wheels” that “quietly turn around that small square like a trusting Ferris wheel,” as he wrote. But what if in the traffic jams he lost his patience and shouted out of context his famous “Human: never be born!”?

At least it would be most comfortableOne-piece seat, good visibility, and a certain verve for the time. It was the 4L Super. Despite its simplicity, you have to think: the indicators are on the lever next to the gearbox, and it works with the first to the left and back, the second straight and forward. 

 The basics: speed, battery charge, water temperature, and fuel level.

 I wish this ashtray, under the knob, could confirm if Aleixandre ever smoked at the wheel.

60 years of the Renault 4 ‘Cuatrolatas’: an immortal car

But human beings, like cars, are born. And they also die. Or maybe not? The Renault 4 ceased to exist in the early 1990s due to the inability to meet new international safety and emissions requirements.

But as Don Vicente once said about the poet (and here we will apply it today to cars like the 4L), “the true glory is not the prize, it is not the tribute, it is not the noise … but, after death, his voice still resonates in a few like-minded hearts; may it not be a closed book, but may it beat, be heard and repeated “. So, congratulations on your 60 springs, Cuatrolatas

Conclusion: I would keep it!

I’ve been wanting to buy this ‘Cuatrolatas’ since I discovered it without restoring it. Now I am glad that it cannot be sold: that is how we will all enjoy it, and it will be as universal as Aleixandre’s work.

Models and versions: from the 4/4 and the Renault 3 to the Dakar!

Although there were many variants and special series in the world from 1961 to the end, in 1994, here are some of the most important for the Spanish market and other ‘Cuatrolas’ of the most curious …

Renault 4.  In 1961, the Renault 4/4, with a rear engine on the left of the photo, gave way to the Renault 4, a more capable and spacious ‘all in front.

Renault 3.  An R4 with access to the range? There was! It was the R3, with 603 cc, 23 hp, and without the third window in the back.

Renault 4L, luxury.  The Renault receives the L after the 4 and is the reason why in Spain it begins to be called ‘Cuatrolatas.’

4L Super.  Externally, the 4L Super had chrome details that better identified them.

4 TL. Very popular in Spain, with a 1,100 cc and 38 hp engine. Here, a unit that served in the Civil Guard.

Vans The 4F and F6 are still in use in many towns and cities. Here at the ‘4L Trophy’ rally.

‘Buggie’ Renault 4 Plain Air. Beach version of the R4. Some think they should reissue it as electric.

Renault 4 GTL Clan. Last Renault 4, manufactured in Eastern Europe during the ’90s. The quality left much to be desired.

Bertin. The name of the proto ‘non nato’ two-seater emerged from cutting and eliminating the rear seat area.

4×4. Built-in collaboration with Sinar, the Renault 4 participated in the Dakar rally. 

Born in Seville in 1898 and raised in Malaga until he was 11 years old when he moved to Madrid, Vicente Aleixandre Merlo was not interested in poetry before he was 18 years old, when a ‘certain’ Dámaso Alonso, who also spent the summer in Las Navas del Marqués (Ávila), lent him a book by Rubén Darío.

However, even though he was so precocious about traveling and writing, the Civil War, his always delicate state of health, and the loss of friends such as Federico García Lorca or Miguel Hernández in the conflict caused him to seclude himself more or less voluntarily in his home. House on Madrid’s Velintonia street, next to the Metropolitan metro. And that at some point, around 1965, the Renault 4L that we have here today would park there a natural escape route.

Today both places bear his name, and the house of the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1977, surrounded by green areas of regulated parking, is still for sale today without having achieved official protection. Will anyone dare to restore this legacy and make it look as good as the car? 

Special Thanks: RCC Auto

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