Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

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.

The Renault 4

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.

The Renault 4

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).

The Renault 4

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.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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12 Comments

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

Adrien
8th December, 2010 @ 10:48 pm PST

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
9th December, 2010 @ 05:19 am PST

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.

1. Toyota Corolla: (1966- ) - 32,000,000

2. Ford F-Series: (1948- ) - 30,000,000

3. Volkswagen Golf:(1974- ) - 25,000,000

4. Volkswagen Beetle: (1938- ) - 22,300,000

5. Ford Escort: (1968-2000) - 20,000,000

6. Honda Civic: (1972- ) - 17,730,000

7. Ford Model T: (1908-1927) - 16,500,000

8. Honda Accord: (1976- ) - 15,800,000

9. Volkswagen Passat: (1973- ) - 14,100,000

10. Chevrolet Impala: (1958- ) - 14,000,000

11. Ford Fiesta: (1976- ) - 12,500,000

12. Vauxhall/Opel Corsa: (1982- ) - 12,000,000

13. Oldsmobile Cutlass: (1961-99) - 11,900,000

14. Chrysler Voyager: (1984- ) - 11,700,000

15. Toyota Camry: (1983- ) - 10,500,000

16. Mazda 323: (1963-2003) - 10,480,000

17. Vauxhall/Opel Astra: (1991- ) - 10,000,000

18. BMW 3-Series: (1977- ) - 9,800,000

19. Fiat Uno: (1983- ) - 9,150,000

20. Renault Clio: (1991- ) - 8,900,000

21. Renault 5: (1972-1996) - 8,800,000

22. Ford Mustang: (1964- ) - 8,300,000

23. Renault 4: (1961-1992) - 8,150,000 (*)

24. Fiat Punto: (1993- ) - 6,800,000

25. Ford Taurus: (1986- ) - 6,750,000

26. BMC/BL/BMW Mini: (1959- ) - 6,700,000

27. Vauxhall/Opel Vectra: (1988-2008) - 6,500,000

28. Chevrolet Cavalier: (1982-2005) - 6,200,000

29. Peugeot 206: (1998-2007) - 6,100,000

30. Buick Le Sabre: (1959-2005) - 6,000,000

31. Nissan Sunny: (1966- ) - 5,900,000

32. Ford Explorer: (1991- ) - 5,700,00

33. Mitsubishi Galant: (1969- ) - 5,550,000

34. Ford Focus: (1998- ) - 5,500,000

35. Ford Crown Victoria: (1980- ) - 5,500,000

36. Toyota Land Cruiser: (1953- ) - 5,300,000

37. Peugeot 205: (1983-1998) - 5,278,000

38. Ford E-Series: (1961- ) - 5,200,000

39. Ford Ranger: (1983- ) - 5,150,000

40. Chevrolet Camaro: (1967-2002) - 4,800,000

41. Fiat 126: (1973-2000) - 4,671,586

42. Opel Ascona: (1970-1988) - 4,400,000

43. Ford Model A: (1927-31) - 4,320,446

44. Ford Cortina: (1962-1982) - 4,279,079

45. Pontiac Grand Am: (1973-2005) - 4,000,000

46. Fiat 500: (1957- ) - 3,900,000

47. Citroen 2CV: (1948-1990) - 3,872,583

48. Fiat 127: (1971-1983) - 3,750,000

49. Peugeot 504: (1968-2005) - 3,713,400

50. Peugeot 405 (1988-1997) - 3,461,800

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

Xabier Sanjuan
9th December, 2010 @ 07:47 am PST

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
9th December, 2010 @ 08:07 am PST

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
9th December, 2010 @ 09:28 am PST

En CHILE; le llamabamos la "Renoleta" o "Renolata".

Excelente vehiculo.....nunca te dejaba botado.

conecta
9th December, 2010 @ 10:54 am PST

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

Knutars
9th December, 2010 @ 03:38 pm PST

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

windykites1
9th December, 2010 @ 04:21 pm PST

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
9th December, 2010 @ 10:50 pm PST

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
10th December, 2010 @ 04:46 pm PST

"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
11th December, 2010 @ 03:34 pm PST

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

Mike, think you research sources are off on this one

zAVA
16th December, 2010 @ 05:46 am PST
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