There’s something to be said for simplicity. If it comes with a cheap ticket price, everyone loves it. But simplicity is easier said than done. To make a truly functional, simple car takes a lot of effort. The 1961 Renault 4 was the French manufacturer’s attempt to crack into the Citroen 2CV‘s market, and it was a complete success. Designed to appeal to absolutely anyone, from farmers to families, and to be used for anything, including deliveries and as an urban runabout, the Renault 4 was incredibly versatile, and has sometime been billed as the world’s first true hatchback, although other cars also claim that crown. Everything about the Renault 4 was uncomplicated, including its trademark sliding windows.
The Renault 4 was introduced to market with Renault’s 747 cc overhead valve straight four, which was modified over the years, and finally replaced in 1986 with its 1,108 cc straight four. Performance was nothing to write home about, with a top speed of 75 miles per hour and a 0-60 acceleration time of 38 seconds.
Perhaps the Renault 4‘s greatest strength was in its continuity and longevity. Except for a few changes to the engine, as noted above, the car remained basically unchanged from 1961 to 1993, when it was finally laid to rest. All in all, over 8 million Renault have been produced, in 16 countries, making it one of the most popular cars in automotive history.