The iconic Renault 4 Latas celebrates its 60th birthday


Updated:02/28/2021 01: 29h


Renault is about to “resurrect” one of its most successful vehicles, the Renault 5, which will soon be on our streets and highways again in electric mode. Another of his legendary cars is the Renault 4, also known in Spain as the ‘Cuatro Latas’, a model about which rumors also abound about its possible commercialization.

At the moment we will have to wait for the brand to confirm the news. But meanwhile, in Renault This year they celebrate the 60th birthday of a model that, due to its simplicity, price, durability or versatility, has managed to carve out an important niche in automotive history. There are still numerous units in circulation in Spain, since 800,000 units came out of the Renault factories in our country, and especially in Portugal, where its commercialization lasted a few years longer than in Spain. In total, more than 8,000,000 units were manufactured over three decades, destined for more than 100 countries.

The history of the Renault 4 begins, after 5 years of development and thousands of kilometers of tests in extreme climates, with the presentation to the French press on August 28, 1961.

The R4 brought together a compendium of innovative technological solutions, both in terms of design, modularity, mechanical technology and dynamic versatility.

First of all, it was a Break body mounted on a platform-type chassis, very innovative conceptually, based on the excellence of simplicity.

Its architecture, 3.6m long and 1.5m high, freed up ample space for passengers and the trunk. This allowed it to offer a spacious 5-seater cabin and simultaneously transport a large cargo volume of up to 480 liters. In addition, the rear seat was foldable very quickly and easily, offering up to 1.45 m3 of available space. Thanks to the incorporation of a 5th gate type door, with a large opening angle, it offered exceptional rear accessibility, practically unprecedented in its time, reinforcing its eminently practical, modular and versatile character.

Second, it was the first compact model, since the end of WWII, in proposing an engine and front-wheel drive, to whatever it was added the independent suspension in the front axle, with all the advantages in terms of maneuverability and precision in the direction that this entails, setting the way for future Renault models.

The R4 featured other very useful mechanical enhancements. For example, it was equipped with watertight ball joints, devoid of greasing, which affected at a lower cost of car maintenance. Another solution, pioneer in its segment, was the closed and hermetic refrigeration circuit, which incorporated a special liquid capable of withstanding the lowest temperatures. This meant that no need to replenish antifreeze in the liquid of the circuit, operation that is frequently inopportune and with an associated cost. The only real maintenance on the car was the oil change.

After its launch in France in 1961, it was time for its introduction in Spain through the start-up of its manufacture. at the Valladolid Assembly Factory, from 1963, starting a fruitful industrial stage that would last until 1989, in the case of the R4 tourism, and until 1991 in the case of its van version. Between them, 800,000 units of this legendary model have been produced in Spain, about 10% of its world production.

The presentation in Spain of the Renault 4, in its “L” version, took place, generating great expectations, on February 25, 1964, in full takeoff of tourism and developmentalism that characterized the society and economy of Spain in the 1960s. The press of the time unanimously highlighted its versatile and economic nature, and the virtues of its “all-way” suspension, as well as its innovative concept in terms of ease of access to the passenger compartment.

Another outstanding aspect was its cheerful personality and, especially, the price, which, with 84,000 pts. of the time, it was clearly below the threshold of the segment, which was around 100,000 pts.

The model marketed in Spain had specific characteristics: an 845cc engine, which developed 30 hp and 12-volt electrical installation, and which exceeded 100 km / h offering very tight consumption.

The media presented it as an object of desire for those who wanted a practical, versatile and affordable car.

Quickly the affectionate denomination of “Cuatrolatas” became popular, in reference to the rear badge that reflected the initials «4L». Its commercial development in the Spanish market grew rapidly, along with Spanish society, for almost three decades, until it became the mythical model that it is today.

Throughout its history in Spain, the 4L was modernizing and accompanying the technological evolutions that were emerging, without losing his original personality and his conceptual virtues. In this way, it was incorporating more modern and efficient engines, such as the 852cc C «sierra» engine and the 4-speed gearbox, in 1968, or, later, the 1,108cc 38hp engine, the disc brakes, etc … He also introduced c elementslike the panoramic sunroof, which contributed to reinforcing the playful nature of the model.

The introduction of more demanding international environmental regulations, as of January 1993, brought as a consequence, as happened with other models of other brands, its industrial end, since the introduction of the new mandatory elements, like the catalyst. The last unit produced of the 4L left the chain on December 3, 1992, although in Spain it stopped producing already in 1989.

Its long and recognized history in our country has left as a legacy numerous Renault 4 fan clubs, and it is common to find, even today, units of this legendary model in concentrations of historical vehicles throughout the entire Spanish geography, showing off their cheerful and innovative personality.

The 4L has been a benchmark for a whole generation of Spaniards who found, thanks to it, the possibility of accessing automotive at an affordable price and with extraordinary versatility, which allowed it to be the ideal vehicle to make driving in the city, on the highway and also on the roads compatible.

Its habitability and modularity, advanced for its time, its legendary mechanical reliability and its low cost of use mean that, 60 years later, the 4L remains an unforgettable car.

In the words of José-Cruz Sánchez Guerrero, president of the Renault Classic Club 3,4,5.6 and 7, «We celebrate 60 years of the versatile car par excellence. It is a vehicle for simple, but effective solutions. Its advertising slogans define it perfectly: No grease, no water, just a little gasoline; the car all advantages, or Renault 4, its beauty is its mechanics. Long live the Cuatro Latas».

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