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50th birthday of one of the iconic automobiles

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December 8, 2010

The Blue Jeans Car

The Blue Jeans Car

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It's the third best-selling car in history, behind only the Volkswagen Beetle and Model T Ford, selling more than eight million units in over 100 countries. It was manufactured or assembled in 28 different countries over a third of a century before finally ceasing production in 1994. In Spain, it was nicknamed "Cuatro Latas", in the former Yugoslavia it was called "Katcra", in Tunisia it was referred to as the "Monastir", in Zimbabwe it was known as the Noddy Car, in Argentina it earned the nickname "El Correcaminos", in Finland the "Tiparellu" and in Italy, the "Frog". Got it yet? Happy birthday to the Renault 4.

La Renault 4 came from the idea of a "blue jeans" car - not so much a people's car, but a car that transcended social boundaries. Like denim jeans which are worn the world over by all classes, Ragie Nationale des Usines Renault President Pierre Dreyfus called for the production of a versatile, inexpensive car with a worldwide calling which could match the changes in society which had been catalyzed in the peace following WW11.

Following a five-year incubation period, the Renault 4, the make's first front-wheel drive passenger car, was unveiled to the Press before going on display at the 1961 Paris Motor Show. A van and three saloon versions were launched simultaneously: the R3, which was dropped from the catalog the following year, the R4 and the R4L (the "L" standing for luxury), soon to become the household name for a model that lost no time in finding a place in the heart of the French public.

Its unrivaled interior, low running costs and ability to adapt to all types of use made it an instant hit. Just six years after its launch, Renault 4 production exceeded the million mark, and other records were broken as the car reached a total production figure of 8,135,424 in the course of its 31-year career.

The Renault 4 was a global success and was produced or assembled in no fewer than 27 countries (in addition to France), some as far afield as Australia, South Africa, Chile and the Philippines. Indeed, six in ten sales were outside of Renault's home market. During its illustrious career, the Renault 4 was made in several different versions, including a van, a four-wheel drive vehicle and a cabriolet. Other variants, such as the Rodeo, and a long list of limited editions were also released, the best known of which in France were the Parisienne (1963), the Safari (1975), the Jogging (1981) and the Sixties (1985).

Meanwhile, the model benefited from its own off-road racing championship and was a favorite means of transport for young people itching to explore the world. It was also seen on such celebrated motorsport events as the Monte Carlo Rally and Paris-Dakar. It even finished the celebrated African rally-raid on the podium one year.

In 1992, a numbered special edition farewell version "Bye-Bye" was released to salute the incredible success of the model, which continued to be manufactured in small numbers in Slovenia and Morocco until 1994.

To celebrate the model's 50th anniversary, Renault plans to stage and take part in a long list of important events throughout 2011. The key dates on the calendar can be found on the Renault site.

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About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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12 Comments

En CHILE; le llamabamos la \"Renoleta\" o \"Renolata\". Excelente vehiculo.....nunca te dejaba botado.

conecta

The toyota corolla I think was the most popular, with over 35 million and still going strong.

Adrien

Problem with the corolla, the current one has nothing but the name to associate itself with the original. The beetle on the other hand, was fundamentally the same car in 1952 as it was in 1972. The same premise follows with the Model T and the Renault 4, over the course of their runs they changed very little. The corolla is a new car every three years or so, so the volume for each run has no chance of reaching the numbers that these oldies saw.

Peter Niedzinski

With all the respect that the Renault 4 (*) deserve, it is listed as the 23rd out of the following Top 50 Best Selling Cars Of All Time, with the total number of units sold as of 2008.

Toyota Corolla: (1966- ) - 32,000,000 Ford F-Series: (1948- ) - 30,000,000 Volkswagen Golf:(1974- ) - 25,000,000 Volkswagen Beetle: (1938- ) - 22,300,000 Ford Escort: (1968-2000) - 20,000,000 Honda Civic: (1972- ) - 17,730,000 Ford Model T: (1908-1927) - 16,500,000 Honda Accord: (1976- ) - 15,800,000 Volkswagen Passat: (1973- ) - 14,100,000 Chevrolet Impala: (1958- ) - 14,000,000 Ford Fiesta: (1976- ) - 12,500,000 Vauxhall/Opel Corsa: (1982- ) - 12,000,000 Oldsmobile Cutlass: (1961-99) - 11,900,000 Chrysler Voyager: (1984- ) - 11,700,000 Toyota Camry: (1983- ) - 10,500,000 Mazda 323: (1963-2003) - 10,480,000 Vauxhall/Opel Astra: (1991- ) - 10,000,000 BMW 3-Series: (1977- ) - 9,800,000 Fiat Uno: (1983- ) - 9,150,000 Renault Clio: (1991- ) - 8,900,000 Renault 5: (1972-1996) - 8,800,000 Ford Mustang: (1964- ) - 8,300,000 Renault 4: (1961-1992) - 8,150,000 (*) Fiat Punto: (1993- ) - 6,800,000 Ford Taurus: (1986- ) - 6,750,000 BMC/BL/BMW Mini: (1959- ) - 6,700,000 Vauxhall/Opel Vectra: (1988-2008) - 6,500,000 Chevrolet Cavalier: (1982-2005) - 6,200,000 Peugeot 206: (1998-2007) - 6,100,000 Buick Le Sabre: (1959-2005) - 6,000,000 Nissan Sunny: (1966- ) - 5,900,000 Ford Explorer: (1991- ) - 5,700,00 Mitsubishi Galant: (1969- ) - 5,550,000 Ford Focus: (1998- ) - 5,500,000 Ford Crown Victoria: (1980- ) - 5,500,000 Toyota Land Cruiser: (1953- ) - 5,300,000 Peugeot 205: (1983-1998) - 5,278,000 Ford E-Series: (1961- ) - 5,200,000 Ford Ranger: (1983- ) - 5,150,000 Chevrolet Camaro: (1967-2002) - 4,800,000 Fiat 126: (1973-2000) - 4,671,586 Opel Ascona: (1970-1988) - 4,400,000 Ford Model A: (1927-31) - 4,320,446 Ford Cortina: (1962-1982) - 4,279,079 Pontiac Grand Am: (1973-2005) - 4,000,000 Fiat 500: (1957- ) - 3,900,000 Citroen 2CV: (1948-1990) - 3,872,583 Fiat 127: (1971-1983) - 3,750,000 Peugeot 504: (1968-2005) - 3,713,400 Peugeot 405 (1988-1997) - 3,461,800

Source: http://hubpages.com/hub/Top-50-Best-Selling-Cars-Of-All-Time

Xabier Sanjuan

I lived in the NE then moved to SE USA during production of this car. I worked in a place that sold Renault & Peugeot about 1970~1971. My Father owned a Renault R16. This is the first time I\'ve heard of the Renault 4. I\'ve never seen a car that could have been one of these. Of the 100 countries they exported this car to, they apparently did not export this model to the USA.

Dave B13

The corolla has changed dramatically over the years. The original Beetle and the Model T were not changed much in their production runs that are counted as a single car.

Mark in MI

Just to let you know a very important fact about Renault 4; in Sweden it was nicknamed \"monkey ambulance\", apambulans. A true fact!

Knutars

how strange. Everybody wrote their email at 12 minutes past the hour(except perhaps mine) What about the Mini?

windykites1

The most interesting thing about the in the article and in the comments was Windykites observation on the 12 minute thing. I am guessing someone goofed and the 12 represents the month or something.

If memory serves the 2 digit month is MM and the 2 digit minute is mm...

Michael Mantion

Funny grammar goof: \"Like denim jeans which are worn the world over by all classes, Renault President Pierre Dreyfus called for the production of a versatile, inexpensive car...\" (Did denim jeans really also call for the production of a car? I think not.)

666gm666

"the Renault 4, the make's first front-wheel drive passenger car"...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Citroen developed the Traction Avant which had three revolutionary features: a unitary body with no separate frame, front wheel independent suspension, and front wheel drive. Citroen commissioned Budd to create a prototype, which evolved into the 7 horsepower (CV), 32 hp (24 kW) Traction Avant of 1934.

In 1933, Citroen also introduced the Rosalie, a passenger car with the world's first commercially available diesel engine." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citroen

IggyDalrymple

...in the former Yugoslavia it was called \"Katcra\"?!?...

Mike, think you research sources are off on this one

zAVA
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