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The introduction in August 1961 was very well planned and organised. Prototypes had been tested intensively between 1958 and 1961. As early as March 1961 Renault organised a session with the dealers to prepare them, and get acquainted with the car. There was a press introduction in August 20-26 in the Camargue. Finally, the R4 was introduced to the public during the Salons of Frankfurt (September) and Paris (October). The public was encouraged to try out the new car by the 'Prenez le Volant' operation, in various countries. Note that a map showing many locations and photos from this period can be found here.

The detailed information about this period contained in this page was derived, among other sources, from the 'Album Renault 4' by Robert Séjourné, Renault Magazine 44 and 45, and publications by Renault Histoire, for instance 'Les essais de mise au point' by Louis Buty, who also produced diaries of the essays embellished with many photos, and Gazoline 37 (2007).

1958: The first pré-prototype

The development of the R4 started in 1956 as project 350 because the price should not exceed 350,000 old French Francs. A first pré-prototype 'EV43' was built in January 1958. Later that year, more pré-prototypes were built: the EV45 (type 'C', March 1958), type 'D' (May 1958), type 'E' (May 1958), type 'F' (July 1958) and type 'G' (July 1958) and other cars of type 'D'. All had different engines, gearboxes etc, and various road tests were conducted with them.

From 8 January 1959 on, 7 prototypes were built of the serie that was to be named 112. In the 'Essais mise au point' the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8 are named - what happened to 5? By June 1959, the 7 protos together had driven 107152 kilometers. Tests with these cars would continu to run endurance tests, day and night, in three shifts.

The first published drawings, shown below, after proto EV43, appeared in l'Auto-Journal ('Le journal de l'homme du XXe siècle') 193 (March 1st, 1958: 'Bombe Renault: la 3CV') and 194 (March 15, 1958: 'Tout sur la 3CV Renault'). Clearly the design is still quite different from the final model. During the first half of 1959, many options were tried on the first 9 models like engines carrying 2 or 4 cylinders, transverse motor or in line, air and water cooling, etc. The first photos were published in l'Auto-Journal 200 (June 15, 1958)

prototype drawing

Sketch of prototype 2 (l'Auto-Journal 193, March 1958)

first prototype

Prototype sketches. Only the location of the spare tyre looks familiar (l'Auto-Journal 194, March 1958).

prototype photo

Early prototype photo in Guinea (l'Auto-Journal 200, June 1958)

Subsequently, three series of prototypes were built. They were named:

- 'préserie de confirmation' (numbers 10-14)

- 'série de confirmation' (15-34)

- 'deuxième série de confirmation' (37-59).

1959: The 'présérie de confirmation'

Around September 24, 1959 five 112-prototypes numbered #10 through #14 were built of the 'présérie de confirmation'. #10 was sent to the Renault test center at Lardy for endurance tests, and #11 to the 'Service Style'. Prototype #12 (license 7986JK75) was sent to Sardinia. The goal here was to test poor road conditions in 'SD' or sous-développé countries. A visit was paid by Dreyfus himself in December 1959. Prototype #13 (license 7878JK75) was sent to Kankan, Guinea in January 1960 (the first photograph in l'Auto Journal 250 is shown below), and the Sahara of southern Algeria in March 1960 to test extremely warm conditions. Finally, prototype #14 (license 7877JK75) was sent to Bemidji, Minnesota in January 1960 for driving in extreme cold conditions. #14 drove from New York to Bemidji and back, totalling (only) 8931 kilometers - most of the work was adjusting the car to the extreme cold, rather than covering a distance.

préserie photo

Préserie de confirmation #13 7878JK75 pictured in Guinea (l'Auto-Journal 250, June 1960). This serie is already much closer to what the R4 would be in 1961.

1960: The 'première série de confirmation'

Between January and May 13, 1960, the 'première sèrie de confirmation' was built. This serie consisted of 20 prototypes numbered #15 through #34. Of this serie, 7 were sent to Lardy for endurance tests (#15-17-18-19-20-22-33) and 2 for roller bench tests (#21-25). One (#23) was sent to Italy to be restyled by GHIA. Others were tested, again, in Sardinia (#28), Kankan, Guinea (#25) and the Sahara and Minnesota, but also in Scandinavia (#27), Mexico (#26) and Australia (#28). #29 was the first Fourgonnette. In total, the 7 protos (509335), the 5 préséries (121310) and the séries de confirmation (350874) drove a total of nearly 1 million kilometers!

Because the project had been renamed from '350' to '112' (4CV was 106, Dauphine 109, Frégate 110, R8 113), the test drivers in Sardinia were inspired to pose next to road signs showing this number, which would be used until 1993 to indicate the different types like 1120 (4CV R4 and R4L, 1121 (3CV R3), 1122 (Super), etc.

112 Oristano

112 prototype #12 (or #28?) at the 112km sign of the SS131 between Oristano and Paulilatino. (December 1959 or March 1960)

112 Terralba

.. and similarly #28 along the SS126 in Terralba, March 13, 1960.

L'Auto Journal published the first photos in numbers 193, and further 250 of July 14, 1960 ('Nouvelle 4CV Renault') and finally more photos in number 270 of April 20 1961. Other photographs were published in Renault Magazine 44 of September 1961, and much later in many magazines and books. The cars (for instance photo 4 in front of the Grand Mosque in Agadez, Niger) are already rather familiar, except for the strangely shaped bonnet, shape of the grille and the tail lights. Remarkable fact: these protos already have the central ribble that would be absent in the later pre-series. Note that all lack the grille logo - in order to prevent all-too-easy recognition?

112 bridge

Proto #13 entering a 'bac' at Irikiri, Guinea, followed by an Estafette (18 January 1960, Renault Magazine 44)

proto in Guinea

Proto #13 crossing the river in Guinea (January 1960, Album Louis Buty)

later prototype

Proto #13 Grand Mosque, Agadez (l'Auto-Journal 270)

Renault of course tried to keep the development of the R4 a secret for as long as possible. A well known telegram from November 1959 signed by 'Johnny' refers to the car in code language as Marie Chantal: 'Marie Chantal a rejoint sa tante sommes satisfaits': Marie Chantal has joined her aunt we are satified'. The origin is censured in order to keep the test location a secret. Another one (not shown here) reads 'Marie Chantal et ses enfants envoient tous leurs meilleurs voeux a leurs parents': 'Marie Chantal and her children send their best wishes to their parents'.

marie chantal

'Marie Chantal has joined her aunt', 28 November 1959 (Renault Magazine 44, 1961).

The photos below show that the prototypes, when not used, were well hidden during the testing in Guinea and Sardinia. The third photo below is an operation where #12 was shipped from Sardinia to Corsica to be secretly changed in the 'maquis' with #28 (the license plates were switched!), and then shipped back again. When crossing the border on the way back, the customs only asked whether the car had been washed ;-)

112 in truck

Prototype #13 being hidden in a truck (Renault Magazine 44). See also the drawing on the upper right side for comparison

112 hidden

Prototype #12 being hidden in a tent in Santa Caterina di Pittinuri, Sardinia (December 1959, in Renault Magazine 44)


Prototype #28 unloaded from a truck in Corsica to be switched with #12 (12 March 1960, Album Louis Buty)

112 unloaded

Prototype #28 being loaded on a ship in Boniface, Corsica on its way back to Sardinia. Note the funny tail lights. (12 March 1960, Renault Magazine 44)

1960: The 'deuxième série de confirmation'

The deuxième série de confirmation, which became available between October or November 1960 and February 2, 1961, looks very much like the series models that were produced from August 1961 onward. This serie consisted of 20 cars numbered #37 to (?) #59. The cars of this series, as well as the first 966 R1120 (R4 and R4L) and 236 R1121 (R3) built during August and September, had a flat bonnet without central ribble and a low fuelpipe entrance. Within this serie, Renault began to develop different models like the R3 (March 1961), the break Super (#37, visible in the Opération Soraya movie, #52 to Argentina), a Fourgonnette (#46), a Torpedo (#47), plastic hatches (#41 RHS, #45, Bemidji), open roofs (#40, to Sahara and Mexico, #43, Kankan). Prototypes #54, $55 and #56 were sent to the Direction for Operation Soraya in Rochefort-en-Yvelines, and #59 to the Publicity department. In March 1961, Pierre Dreyfus - who insisted on driving the car - severely crashed prototype #42 in Sardinia, which was then returned to Lardy to be destructed. Just before the press presentation, the prototypes and préséries had covered just short of 3 million test kilometers.


Proto 40, with 'toit ouvrant', in the Sahara (Album Louis Buty, November 1960)


Proto 44 (or 45), showing the Super bumper, in Bemidji (Album Louis Buty, January 1961)


Protos 44 and 45 in Bemidji. Note the 'glace arrière coulissante'! (Album Louis Buty, January 1961)


44 (or 45) in Bemidji (Album Louis Buty, January 1961)

later prototype

Deuxiéme série de confirmation (l'Auto-Journal 270, April 1961)

proto 42 crashed by Dreyfus

Proto 42, crashed by Dreyfus (Album Louis Buty, march 1961)

Shown below, photos published in Paris Match 616, of January 1961, illustrate the story of Belgian rallye champion Paul Frère who ran into a prototype in In Guezzam, between Fort-Lamy and Tamanrasset, Algeria. The technicians he spoke to told him 'il s'agit', lui dirent-ils, 'de la future 3 CV Renault' ('it is about the future Renault 3CV').

Paris Match 616

In Guezzam, Algeria (Paris Match 616)

voiture inconnue

Announcement in PM

Paris Match 616

Close up of the findings of Paul Frère in PM616 (proto 40)

The three silhouettes show what l'Auto-Journal, in the same April 1961 issue, considered to be the three versions: break (4L), berline (3/4) and fourgonnette. Clearly, the Fourgonnette, that would be only be introduced in October at the Salon de Paris, wouldn't be quite what they expected. Protos 29 of the 'série de confirmation' and 46 of the 'deuxiéme série de confirmation' were already fourgonnettes, but has anyone ever seen photos of them? . The last photo, from a September issue, shows a pre-series R4 that was used by l'Auto-Journal for a test.


Silhouettes of the expected three versions (AJ 270, April 1961). The Fourgonette is far off..

preseries in l'Auto-Journal

Open-roof R3 or R4 at Château de Rochemaure overlooking the Rhône (l'Auto-Journal 280, September 1961). Note the low fuel-pipe entrance.

1 Operation Soraya: the dealers are instructed

As the R4 was a wholly 'nouvelle voiture', the introduction was planned in detail - the first time in modern history a car would be introduced that elaborately. Therefore, those who would have to sell the car were carefully instructed. The introduction to 'les directeurs commerciaux des zones et le bureau de groupement des concessionaires' took place in March 1961 at the château Porgès de Rochefort en Yvelines, which was gaurde by policemen on foot and on motorbikes. A short documentary was made of the operation, which was named 'Opération Soraya'. It is in this documentary we hear for the first time the well known slogan 'pas de graissage, pas d'eau, juste un peu d'essence'. We see a couple of busloads of personnel arrive at a rather chique mansion in misty weather, showing badges saying 'Présentation confidentielle'. After kind words by the Régie EO's we see a lot of serious middle aged men in raincoats and suits - not really the blokes you'd expect to drive an R4 - apparently admiring and driving the new car. For Soraya, the prototypes 54, 55 and 56 of the second confirmation series used - they were named 'les 112 de la Direction Générale'. In the documentary, a couple of cars are taken for a rough ride around. Surprisingly, at 10'42" in the Youtube clip we already clearly see a Super - due for introduction in October!

In August the French dealers received a 10 page issue of the top secret Renault Promotion 12, shown below. Inside, there was an editorial by Pierre Dreyfus, information about the 'fundamental principles of the Renault technical doctrine' (..), the '5 original features of the new Renault', 'why and how we created the new Renault' (written by design and research manager M.F. Picard), 'what you can tell your prospects', technical data, information about the promotion material like brochures and the dealer introduction book shown below, and finally a page with photos. The dealers were explicitly instructed not to give the bulletin to clients or press, under any circumstance. The English language version lacks information on the R3 and the two pages containing the publicity information. It contains quotes from l'Argus, Paris Jour, l'Équipe and other papers dating from the end of August, it must date from September, despite it being labeled August.

spécial promotion

Spécial Promotion

restricted exclusively

Keep strictly secret!

spécial promotion

UK Special Promotion - 4 and 4L

Dutch dealer booklet

Dutch dealer introduction book

Probably during or shortly after this presentation the dealers, or at least those in France, were provided with the blue booklet shown above (see the PDF here). It contained the following set of items that were also described in detail in the Spécial Promotion:

- press photos

- a large leaflet (dépliant) (45.898, later replaced with 'nervure' 45.928; 45.930 is the left steering 'Remarkable'.

- a small leaflet (dépliant) (45.899, later replaced with 'nervure' 45.929)

- a prospectus (45.900, or 45.932 with 'nervure' but without the 3, and instead of the 'version super confort' the '4 super')

- a 'cahier reportage' named Édition Spéciale (45.902)

- a series of logos (3 and 4L), described as 'monogrammes' to put up in their showrooms

- two example letters to be sent out to rural or urban customers

- two cliches (not to be used before the end of August!)

- information about the new 'Credit DIAC'.

1962 large depliant

Large dépliant 45.898

1962 small depliant

Small dépliant 45.899

1962 prospectus

Prospectus 45.900

1962 large depliant

Large dépliant 45.928

1962 small depliant

Small dépliant 45.929

1962 prospectus

Prospectus 45.932, Vietnamese dealer stamp (!)

Moreover, the booklet contained precise instructions on how to convince the potential customers. The prospectus was meant to give to everyone. The small leaflet could easily be slipped into an envelope to be used for 'mail service', to a selected clientele. The large leaflet, finally was to be handed to all 'firm' prospects to push them make their decision. The letters also provided advice to the dealers: to add a leaflet, a quote or information on financing the new buy. In the letter to the 'clientele urbaine' emphasis was, apart from the technicalities, on the possibility to hold an entire family. In the one to the 'clientele rurale' one could read about its capacity to hold lots of stuff (the 5th door!) and the fact that its suspension makes it very suitable for the lesser roads. Dealers in Holland received a comparable piece of work listing arguments to be used for convincing potential customers, but without the above mentioned goodies. Also from Germany and Belgium similar booklets are known.

Renault Magazine is an internal Renault publication aiming at the dealers. Number 44, published September 1961, announced 'Les nouvelles Renault' and contains an 20-page description of the press presentation, showing photos taken in Le Grau-du-Roi, Aigues-Mortes, Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer and around.


Front page of Renault Magazine 44 of September 1961


Inner page of Renault Magazine 44 introducing R4L, R3 and R4


Back page of RM 44 at Domaine de Pinceloup, Sonchamp also seen in the Gaceta Ilustrada.

camargue film
2 Ballade en Camargue: the press

revelation On July 7, 1961, the conversion of the construction line of the 4CV to R4 started. A number of series models were already constructed in Billancourt by hand before the production line was finished. Louis Buty states that the release of the first marketable cars was around May 1961. This probably includes the cars that were used in the Camargue for the 'Essais de Presse'. Finally, in August, production started on the 3rd. 307 R4 were produced during July and August.

Les Essais de Presse

The R4 was officially introduced to the press between June 20th and August 26th 1961 according to the Album Renault 4. On the right picture we see some personnel taking care of the cars prior to unrevealing them. Four or five days were spent in the Camargue in southern France near Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. There was also a circuit from Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer to Lunel, Saint-Martin-de-Londres, Causse-de-la-Selle, les Gordes de l'Hérault and Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, and back. 25 4CV R1120 (4 and 4L) and 5 3CV (3) were available for test driving. Only 20 vehicles were used (15 4 and 4L, and 5 3). Only a single car was crashed during the tests: the 3CV #4. After the Camargue, some of the cars were converted to service cars, like #6, for Louis Buty himself, and #7.

The Camargue was, at least by that time, a rough and sparsely populated area well known for the wild horses living there, bereft of all luxury - quite the spot for the introduction of the R4, not? It is a known fact that the press treated the R4 rather roughly, and that 10 of the test drive models were cannibalised to fix the 20 others (have a look at some of the photos from Soraya, the Camargue and Sonchamp). Anyway, from a large number of photos in various magazines it can be deducted that 15 of the cars that were used had license plates from 5871 W 75 through 5885 W 75. On some of the photos small stickers can be seen in the lower right corner of the windscreens with numbers from 1 (5871 W 75) to 12 (5882 W 75). I have not seen sticker numbers higher than 12 or license plate numbers higher than 5885W75, so what happened to the other 15 cars? Other publicity photos, for instance some used in the Édition Spéciale, have plates 2195W75 through 2197W75.

number 5

5875 W 75, sticker 5 (Édition Spéciale)

number 10

5880 W 75, 10 (youtube)

number 12

5882 W 75, 12 (Édition Spéciale)

For the occasion, another short movie was prepared: 'Ballade en Camargue' of which the soundtrack was published on EP (tip: buy this record, or the Argentian version 'Banda musical de la pelicula "Rodeo"', containing the same soundtrack). We see two cars in bleu île de France and rouge esterel driving around some rough terrain, as we will later learn on their way to accompany a couple of horsemen (probably the same guys that appeared in Paris Match 647 of September 1961 - rumour has it that the mannequins in the same Paris Match at first refused to pose with such an ugly car..). The blue car has an open roof from which a herd of cattle being traced by the cowboys is filmed. One of the animals is caught. In the end, we even see a donkey transported in the back of the red car! Finally, we see the drivers of the cars saying goodbye to donkey and cowboys, and perform some spectacular drifting to emphasize the perfect stability of the cars.

Paris Match cowboys

Paris Match reports about 'la nouvelle 3cv Renault': cowboys and horses (September 1961)

Paris Match mannequins

Paris Match mannequins lured into promoting this ugly little car (September 1961)

Of course, the representatives of the press weren't sent home without some solid material to inform them how to write about the R4. The booklet is shown below. Its opening text reads 'At the next Paris Automobile Salon the Régie Renault will present its new models the R3, R4 and R4L which will replace the famous 4CV which has been built since 1947' (thereby surpassing the Frankfurt Salon). It elaborates on all technical advantages, performance, cost, reparation - and credit; the DIAC, 'Societé de Crédit affiliée à la Régie Renault', apparently presented a new credit formula. The same booklet was later extended with some extra loose pages introducing Super and Fourgonnette. The fourgonnette is described here as having 'the rear part of the body [..] constituted by a parallelepiped with rounded superior corners', the latter referring to the roof. Pretty accurate, huh? The Super, 'new model of the R4 spectrum, distinguishes itself of the R4L by its more refined equipment and slightly superior engine allowing a top speed of 110 km/hour'.

les nouvelles

16 page booklet probably presented to the Press

les nouvelles fourgonnettes

Addition to the booklet describing Fourgonnette and girafon. Note the 'parallelépipède à coins arrondis' (the roof) and the 'panneau bombé relevable et amovible' (the 'girafon')

As proof that the 4L made an impressive first appearance, the first commentaries in the French press date from August 29 through August 31, according to Renault Promotion 12. Although the R4 would be built in Spain from 1964 on, Velocidad magazine 38, of September 15, 1961, participated in the testing in the Camargue and wrote a very positive review.

Velocidad 38

Velocidad 38 reports about the test in the Camargue. Note the #1 sticker on the windscreen.

Another peculiar leaflet is shown below. It looks like a newspaper and it shows the same pictures that are present in the dépliants. It is not sure what and for whom it was meant to be. Anyway the reference code 45913-07-03 places it a little while after the prospectus and dépliant. The picture on the flip side was used (and altered) often, as illustrated here in the Spot the Difference section. An alternative version, shown on the right, includes the price of the R3 in the lower right corner.

the alternative newspaper

Newspaper thing

the newspaper flipside

Flipside of the newspaper

the newspaper

Alternative version

Strangely, not many advertisements are known from the first few months or even the first model year:

La Nouvelle

La Nouvelle in Saintes-Maries

Une famillie en vogue

Une famillie en vogue

la nouvelle

La nouvelle

la nouvelle

Rêve de femme

3 Prenez le volant: the public
entree_spectaculaire grand_premiere

The public introduction took place between September 21st and October 1st at the Salon de Frankfurt for the R3 (R1121), R4 (R1120) and R4L (R1120). The series-cars with production numbers #90, #123 and #137 were used. Neither Super (R1122) nor Fourgonnette (R2104) were there yet; they would be introduced in October at the 48th Salon de Paris (although the Super was already visible in the Opération Soraya movie!). The commercialisation started only October 4th during the Salon de Paris. Remember that 307 had been constructed in August, which most likely were used in the Camargue and for the Prenez le Volant (see below). In October, according to Renault Magazine 45 (which does not list September), 3228 were produced which equals an average daily production of about nearly 147, given a 5-day working week. The stock therefore was quite small.

macaron macaron viltje viltje

For the 'Prenez le volant' operation in Paris 200 white R4 were available for the duration of the Salon, 5-15 October. They were presented 4th of October in the evening at the Palais de Chaillot, opposite the Eiffel Tower. All were equipped with three blue, white and red flags ('portant fièrement leurs trois petits fanions'). They had stickers on the front doors inviting the public to take the wheel. A notable feature is that in many countries the flags (in France printed with texts 'essai libre', '4L Renault' and 'Renault') were employed. in France, 60,000 people drove 440.000 kilometers in 10 days. Above, a promotional macaron is shown, in French and Dutch.


Prenez le volant flags


Rehearsal at Montlhéry circuit


Grande première, Palais de Chaillot

prenez_le_volant Paris

Prenez le volant in Paris

At the Porte Maillot, next to the Bois de Boulogne and very near the Palais de Chaillot, a small test circuit was constructed where people could try the new R4. Also, the new Fourgonnette was on display there. The cars were also displayed in a number of large Magasins, hidden in wooden crates until the opening of the Salon.


Get acquainted with the new R4


Test circuit at Porte Maillot


The new fourgonnette on display at Porte Maillot

rue de l'opera

Prenez le volant car at Rue de l'Opéra


Caisse mysterieuse!

Afterwards, the operation was continued in other parts of France until well in 1962. The same campaign was also ran in (at least) the Netherlands (November), right after the Prenez le Volant, and later in Belgium, Germany, the United Kingdom (February 1962) and Austria ('Probieren Sie selbst", February and March 1962). In Spain the R4 was only introduced in 1964, but the same flags were used ('El nuevo 4L Renault'). The name of the campaign was translated into 'Neem het stuur' (in flemish), 'Stuur Zelf' (in Dutch), 'Stop that car' (in English) or 'Stoppa bilen - kör dit Ni själv vill' (in Swedish - the last words can be translated as 'and drive where you want'). In all of those countries, a large number of white 4L were available for a free ('Essai libre') or guided tour.


'Neem het stuur' at the Atomium in Brussels


'Stuur zelf' at Dam Square in Amsterdam


'Stop this car! This is the remarkable R4' in the UK


'El nuevo 4L Renault' in Spain, 1964.


'Probieren Sie selbst' in Austria, 1962.


'Ranskan valtti' in Finland

Swedish dealer book

Instruction book for Swedish dealers

Dutch toto

Dutch 'Toto' form for a month free driving

In 2011 Dutch Losange magazine published the story of a Dutch student who was one of a group of 70 that was hired by Renault to pick up the cars in Billancourt on the 9th of November. The Netherlands were the first country, after France, where the Renault 4 was introduced. They were to drive to and through the Netherlands for two weeks, between November 10th and (about) 24th. During this period at least 5 cars crashed, which left their student attendants jobless.. Nevertheless, the 'Renault 4 Convoy' was a huge success. During the first week alone, 300 were sold, maybe because it was advertised abundantly in the newspapers ('The Renault 4 Convoy is coming - are you too?'), and there was a contest offering a month of free driving an R4 as prize (question: what is the highest number on the speedometer).


Dutch advertisement announcing the 'Renault 4 Convoy', November 10-24

neem het stuur

'Neem het stuur', Flanders, November 21-30

prenez le volant

'Prenez le volant', Wallonia, Nov. 21-30

The flat bonnet and the low fuelpipe entry

The first serie produced R4 were constructed on August 3rd 1961, with a flat bonnet and low fuelpipe entrance. Only about 8 survivors are currently known to exist, only one having the low fuelpipe entrance. Many of the early brochures and press photos of the R3, R4 and R4L, as well as the Ballade en Camargue movie show them, and even on a few fourgonnette photos they are visible. Production Supers never have them (never? An early Super is visible in the Soraya movie!). The production numbers of surviving models with the flat bonnet are up to about 1980 so no more than about 2000 were not built. Nowadays they are very rare. When were they changed to the ribbled bonnet and high fuelpipe entry, and why? The picture below in the middle contains the answer!

directive pipe remplissage servoir directive pipe remplissage aile

Notably, the cars of the Frankfurt Salon (21/9/61 - 1/10/61) have the old low fuelpipe, whereas during the Paris Salon (5/10/61 - 15/10/61), which started only a few days later, they already had the high one. Simultaneously with the Paris Salon, the 200 cars of the French Prenez le Volant still had the flat bonnet and low fuelpipe entrance. Apparently, the large amount of Prenez le Volant cars of the old type had already been prepared before the decision to change the fuelpipe was made. Of course, at the Salon itself, the latest version of the models was to be shown! Later Prenez le Volant actions in other countries also had the new fuelpipes. A 'directive technique' dated October 24th 1961 (published on the French R4-4L forum by Gudule and shown above) explains that, after the production of 966 R1120 (R4 and R4L) and 236 R1121 (R3), it was decided that the rear right wings were to be replaced - mandatory - because they kept losing fuel in curves. Strangely, this problem surely would have shown up during the long tests?

paris salon preparation

French Gendarme getting a first view of the new R4, also revealing the new fuelpipe entrance.

The few surviving specimens of the first few months of production are very much sought after nowadays. About 10 flat bonnets are currently known and only about a wing (and a half - shown above is the one owned by Migmog, belonging to production number 29) with low fuelpipe entrance. It is still unknown when the flat bonnet was replaced, but it must have been during model year 1962 because the red introduction brochures exist both with and without them. Given the relative abundance of surviving flat bonnets, their replacement was considered less urgent.

The locations

Together with Boerammetje and Antoine we spent quite some time figuring out the locations some of the events took place. In hindsight, it appears quite logic that they are all within an hours driving distance of the Ile Seguin. See the 1961 Locations map for many more locations and photos.

Some sources:

- l'Auto-Journal 193, March 1 1958. Bombe Renault: La 3CV. La Régie prépare une nouvelle voiture populaire 4 places.

- l'Auto-Journal 194, March 15 1958. Tout sur la 3CV Renault.

- l'Auto-Journal 200, June 15 1958. 1eres photos: 3CV Renault, quatre places, traction avant.

- l'Auto-Journal 250, July 14 1960. Nouvelle 4CV Renault.

- l'Auto-Journal 270, April 20 1961. La nouvelle 3-4CV Renault, rivale de la 3CV Citroën.

- l'Auto-Journal 276, July 13 1961. Choc Renault - Citroën. la nouvelle 3-4CV face à l'Ami 6.

- l'Auto-Journal 280, September 2 1961. Premier banc d'essai de la nouvelle 3-4CV Renault. La rivale de la 2CV Citroën.

- Paris Match 616, January 28 1961. En plein Sahara une mystérieuse auto inconnue la 3CV Renault?

- Paris Match 647, September 2 1961. Sur la route, la 4L succède à la 4CV Renault.

- l'Équipe, June 20 1961. Officiel: La nouvelle Renault sera au salon de Paris.

- l'Automobile 185, September 1961. Spécial pre-salon, 3-4CV Renault contre 2-3CV Citroën.

- l'Action Automobile et Touristique 12, September 1961. 1er Essai de la nouvelle Renault revue de détail.

- Velocidad 38, 15 September 1961. Renault descubre a la prensa su modelo 3-4 CV

- Renault, August 1961. Spécial Renault Promotion 3, 4 et 4L.

- Renault Magazine 44, September 1961. Tout sur les nouvelles Renault.

- Renault, 1961. Dossier concessionnaire.

- Renault, 1961. Dossier presse (?). La Régie Renault au salon de l'automobile 1961.

- Renault, 1961. Dossier presse (?). Les nouvelles Renault 3, 4, 4L.

- Renault, 1961. Filme 'Opération Soraya'.

- Renault, 1961. Filme 'Ballade en Camargue'.

- Autopista 266, February 2 1964. Salio el R. 4-L.

- Losange Magazine 20, winter 2011. Stuur zelf.

- Renault Histoire 02. Les essais de mise au point 1958/1961, by Louis Buty.

- Gazoline 37, Novembre-Décembre-Janvier 2007. 1962-1970 Renault 4.

- Album Renault, by Robert Séjourné, Éditions EPA

- La Renault 4 de mon père, by Marie-Claire Lauvray and Dominique Pascal, E.T.A.I.

this page last changed on Oct 15 2023