Oddball Driver: 1960 Renault 4CV

When the owner purchased this 1960 Renault 4CV, his original intention was to use it as a parts car. It turned out that its condition was too good to use for that purpose, so it has remained untouched for the 13-years since he purchased it. The little Renault hasn’t seen a lot of use in that time, so now he has decided to send it off to a new home. It is located in Corona del Mar, California, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. With bidding currently sitting at $6,600, the reserve hasn’t been met.

If the current condition of the 4CV is close to how it was when the seller purchased it, I can’t imagine why he would have considered using it as a donor car. When you look at the panels, it is hard to find anything to fault. They are straight, and there are no signs of any rust problems. He doesn’t mention the state of the floors. However, given the fact that the car appears to have spent many years in California, there is some reason to be cautiously optimistic on this front. I don’t believe that the Dark Green paint that it wears is its original color, but it does suit the car extremely well. It shines nicely, while the same is true of the trim and chrome. I can see no issues with the glass, and the new whitewall tires that the car rolls on adds a great finishing touch to the exterior. I have always expressed a fondness for cars with suicide doors, so that means that I feel something of a soft spot for this classic.

The 4CV represented affordable motoring for the masses in France, so it didn’t come loaded with luxury features. There is a spot in the dash where you could conceivably fit a radio, but apart from that and an ashtray, you could place the words “Not Available” next to any other luxury item that you might consider. That’s not to say that there is anything wrong with the condition of the interior, because it presents exceptionally well. The upholstered surfaces look to be faultless, while there are no significant issues with the carpet. The headliner is in good order, and there are no problems with the painted surfaces. If I were to buy this car, the only thing that I might do would be to purchase and fit a set of floor mats. The existing carpet is a light color, and I would want to protect it from future wear and stains. Otherwise, this looks like an interior that is ready to be enjoyed immediately.

The owner supplies no engine photos and doesn’t indicate whether the drivetrain is original. If it is, then what you will find is a rear-mounted 4-cylinder engine with a capacity of 747cc. This would pump out 28hp, which finds its way to the rear wheels via a 3-speed manual transaxle. With such a low power output, performance is never going to be neck-snapping. The trip down the ¼ mile will take about 24.9 seconds, and given enough room, the little Renault should wind its way to a top speed of 62mph. However, you have to wait for a staggering 48.7 seconds before that happens. Its real trump card is the engine’s impressive flexibility. With no synchromesh on 1st gear, many owners found city driving to be a daunting prospect. Life was made easier by the fact that the 4CV was capable of pulling away from 3mph quite strongly in 2nd gear. So, unless you were at a virtual standstill, it was actually a pretty reasonable sort of car to have when tackling the cut-and-thrust of city driving. As previously mentioned, the Renault hasn’t had a lot of use during the past 13-years. The owner admits that it has only accumulated around 100 miles on its odometer during that time. Even so, he does say that the car runs and drives. Given that lack of activity, I would probably be inclined to subject the vehicle to a full mechanical check before undertaking any extended journeys.

The Renault 4CV was released in post-war France as that company’s attempt to get the masses moving during a time of financial hardship. It remained in production for 14-years and was the first French car to sell more than one million units. By the time the last 4CV rolled off the production line in July of 1961, 1,105,543 cars had been sold. Today, a good example can quite easily sell for $11,000 or more. If this particular car is as good as it would appear to be in the listing, then there is a real possibility that it could threaten that sort of figure. It is small and quirky, and the fact that it has already attracted 22 bids suggests that there are a few people who like it. It will be interesting not only to see what it finally sells for but whether we have any readers who might be tempted to bid on it.

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  1. Howard A Member

    This site is weird, where did this come from? Seems the lineup changes from day to day. Aw, maybe a tad vain, but this was posted just for me,,, me, me, me. My 1st car. Stop me if you heard this one,,( Tiny little super guy)
    In 1971, just before I got my license, my brother already had his, we found a ’59 4CV at a sports car dealer just north of Milwaukee, in the back row. The motor was stuck, and we got it for $50 bucks. I never knew why my old man let us have it, but we got it running( pulled the head, soaked the pistons, we didn’t think the liners would pop up, and hammered them back down with a baseball bat, which freed them up,,,,stupid kids) got a head gasket from J.C. Whitney, about the only place that had Renultz( like the old man called them) parts and off we went, with my brother driving. It was a poor excuse for a car, compared to the old man’s Olds 98, but it actually was a better car than the VW bug. Had 4 doors, a real heater( kinda) more room, and French quality. French build great cars. We sold the 4CV, and I got my 1st REAL car, that I drove, a ’58 Volvo 444, also for $50 bucks. The last time I saw’r a 4CV, was about 20 years ago in a small town just east of Janesville, Wis. It was at an antique store as a prop, and in very poor condition. No, it wasn’t ours, I checked. Great find, thanks for the memories, Adam.

    Like 16
    • On and On On and On Member

      Hey Howard, I’ve been to that antique store near Janesville, and looked at the Renault there. Was getting pretty rusty, but for sale for a silly high price. I did buy some old beer openers there, I like antiques I can use daily!

      Like 8
      • Keith Johnson

        Went by that store a year ago, and the Renault is gone, along with the plane fuselage that had been in the trees on the other side. Went by again last week, and the whole lot looks like it’s been graded. Too bad, it was a fun place.

        Like 2
      • Jim Morris

        Many years ago, a friend said I had to go to an antique store east of Janesville, they had a couple of Morris Minors sitting outside. I went, they weren’t.
        I did buy a couple of knickknacks and almost bought my girlfriend another drum kit, but I held off. This was in ’06 and this is what they looked like then.
        I always planned on taking a cruise back there, but it looks like I don’t have to think about it any more.
        Back in the late 50’s, I worked washing cars on weekends at a Pate station in Riverwest (Milwaukee) on Center St. The owner, Dick Bringe, had a 4CV that was used for hops to the parts store if something was needed faster than delivery. I only drove it around the block a time or 2 (I was 13 at the time), and it was slow then.
        The dry cleaner across the street had a VW non-window van for deliveries and it was faster.

        Like 2
  2. Fred W

    Why would even consider parting out this car? Glad he didn’t!

    Like 3
  3. Tom c

    I like this simple little ride a lot , and I don’t know why .

    Like 3
  4. 370zpp

    Renultz. Never heard that one before, I like it.

    Also, I was totally unfamiliar with these cool looking 60s cars. Nothing like the disposable and laughable junk this company manufactured in the 80s.

    Like 1
  5. dogwater

    Nice fun at a car show

    Like 1
  6. Stuart R

    I owned a 4CV in college, late 1970’s. No one has mentioned the crank you could stick through rear bumper to start car. If it was warm, it would fire right up! A lot of looks at the grocery store!!!

    Like 1
  7. Brakeservo

    With a 62 mph top speed it’s slower than a 2CV. Anyone know if these can be upgraded with either a Dauphine engine/transaxle or maybe even an R8? The Dauphine was about 100cc larger and later examples had four-speeds.

    Like 1
    • Blyndgesser

      The Dauphine used a larger version of the same Billancourt engine, but it’s not much more powerful. The Cleon engine from later Renaults sounds appealing but I’m not sure how much work it would be.

      Like 1
      • Garry

        They are a wet sleeve motor and I am pretty sure that Dauphine pistons and barrels will bolt straight in. For a bit more power, the Gordini head could be used; Gordinis also had a four speed gearbox.

  8. Karl

    I look at it and keep waiting for the clowns to start coming out!

    Like 3
  9. Magnus

    A 4CV was my parent’s daily driver when I was born and it will always hold a special place in my heart. My mom was so large and the car so small they had to take the front seat out. She entered the front door and sat in the back. She had false labor a few weeks before I was born and sure enough, the car wouldn’t start so she had to help push start it. For some reason they didn’t use the crank that time but it was often used as long as they owned the car.

    Hard to imagine how primitive it was by today’s standards but 60 years ago there were a lot of under powered cars in Europe.

    Like 1
  10. Willowe Member

    When I was living up in Anchorage, the bowling alley in Mountain View was the only clear space available on Sundays that was big enough for car gymkhanas and autocrosses. Cars of all kinds and sizes were regulars, including one of these. Gymkhanas require starting and stopping, pulling into imaginary garages and backing out, and the guy was pretty good at those. But for the autocrosses, all straight ahead around pylons, he’d just get in into 2nd gear ASAP and leave it there, simply turning madly on the steering wheel and trying not to brake much. He was next to unbeatable.

    Like 2
  11. Louis Chen

    This car looks quite good and if any Frenchy were looking for one, he/she would probably buy & ship it back! These cars were popular during it’s heyday! I remember riding them when I was in service during the VN war…these were used as taxis. Seeing this BF brought me fond memories!

    Like 2
    • Stuart Rogers

      When i bought mine in 1979, there was a parts car that he said was a Saigon taxi. Never picked that up, finding campus parking for the first one was hard enuf!!!

      Like 1
  12. Garry

    There was an earlier model to this entered in all three Redex Round Australia Trials 1953-5

  13. chrlsful

    28 bids gone @ *k. What’s one the frnt of the rear fender? Chrome?

    • chrlsful

      (no more edit function)
      *asterisk should B an 8

  14. Dan Cloud

    Had a ’66 Dauphine back in the ’70’s. Used to race CTA busses and lose, but the bus driver didn’t know he was racing!

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