the great and glorious
In the midst of the Second World War, Renault was secretly working on the development of a small car. Secretly but efficiently as, despite the wartime conditions, Renault's designers laid the foundations for Renault 4CV, which was launched in October 1946 once France had embarked upon its reconstruction.
“4 doors, 4 seats, 4 CV, 440,000 francs!” With this memorable slogan, Renault affirmed its ambitions to make the Renault 4CV a compact, comfortable and economical car. Renault 4CV was able to carry four people comfortably, its flat floor kept clear by the rear positioning of the engine.
After the Second World War and the Liberation, it would have been wonderful to have had a multi-tone horn on the Renault 4 CV tuned to play the Marseillaise! Never mind – it’s horn still definitely sounds like the 1940s.
As a symbol of the return to peacetime prosperity, Renault 4 CV became the first French car to be produced in excess of 1 million units (with over 1,105,000 sold), largely due to the use of transfer machines, heralding an era of automation.
The first Renault 4 CVs were nicknamed “slab of butter” due to their shape and yellow colour. This wasn’t a design choice but a practical solution to use up paint stocks recovered from the Germany army. Later, Renault 4 CV came in different versions ranging from the economical “Service” model to the convertible and sporty 1063. It was sold in the USA and manufactured under licence by Hino in Japan (globalisation ahead of its time!). Renault 4 CV’s style changed over the years: for example, the original six-slat front “moustache” was later replaced by a three-slat style.
1,105,547 units from 1947 to 1961
- Performance and engine
4 cylinders inline
from 747 cm3 to 760 cm3 depending on version
from 17 to 21 hp depending on version
- dimensionsLength 3,60 mWidth 1,43 mHeight 1,45 m
small two-box car
Renault 4 CV was the best-selling car in France until 1955, and embodied a return to peace and prosperity. In 1961, however, it bowed out, making way for another big Renault success, the R4, which went down in history under the name 4L.