Disclosure: This site may receive compensation when you click on some links and make purchases.

Rare French Classic: 1988 Renault 4 “Frog”

Some cars are so quirky they can’t help but be cool. Such is the case with this 1988 Renault 4 “Frog” Convertible. The seller claims that only around 500 of these classics were produced and that they were a favorite at some European beachside resorts. This one has found its way to a sunny location where a new owner can enjoy top-down touring in a car guaranteed to draw crowds. The Frog is listed here on eBay in San Diego, California. The seller set their BIN at $20,000, and I must say a big thank you to Barn Finder ToddK for spotting this French gem.

The 4, or R4, possessed one key attribute in common with many Renault models, enjoying an incredibly long production run. The first examples landed in showrooms in 1961, with the last cars rolling off the line in 1992. The company was renowned for its versatility, producing the “4” in various body types and configurations. Most buyers selected a Hatchback, Van, or Pickup, but the Frog emerged as a limited edition Convertible variant. It is unclear when this one found its way onto American soil, but criticizing its presentation is virtually impossible. The Red paint shines beautifully, while the panels it covers are equally impressive. There is no evidence of dings, dents, or rust issues. The seller doesn’t mention any problems in their listing, and if it has spent its life in dry climates, that will have helped its cause. The decals are crisp, and there are no trim or glass issues. The versatility of this classic is reflected in its three top configurations. The buyer can select from a full top and doors offering decent weather protection. There is a half top that fits over the roll bar, or the new owner could stow the top for the ultimate wind-in-the-hair motoring experience.

The seller supplied no engine photos or specific information on this car’s mechanical specifications, and an online search produced conflicting information. However, it appears this Renault is powered by a 956cc four-cylinder powerplant producing 34hp and 46 ft/lbs of torque. It feeds to the road via a four-speed manual transmission, and while the power and torque figures are, to be polite, modest, the motor only needs to shift a car weighing 1,532 lbs. It does so surprisingly well, and while the ¼-mile ET of 22.4 seconds is unlikely to set the world alight, this Frog should comfortably cruise on the open road at 60mph. The metric odometer shows 27,413 original kilometers, which is slightly more than 17,000 miles. There is no mention of verifying evidence, but the Renault’s condition makes the claim plausible. It is a turnkey proposition, with the seller stating it runs and drives perfectly.

Renault equipped the Frog with body-hugging front bucket seats, while the rear-facing back seat enhances this one’s versatility. The front floors feature Gray carpet, while back seat occupants receive painted steel. The seller admits recovering the seats with waterproof material, which was undoubtedly wise. However, they include the original upholstery should the new owner wish to return the car to its factory appearance. Unsurprisingly, the new owner won’t receive luxuries like air conditioning, but whether this classic features a radio or any other in-car entertainment is unclear.

I admit I had never seen a Renault 4 “Frog” before this 1988 model landed on my desk. A search of the Barn Finds archive confirms this is the first we have featured. It is in beautiful condition, and while the price is not cheap, the rarity of the Frog means the new owner is unlikely to park next to an identical example at a Show or Cars & Coffee. French manufacturers developed a reputation for producing quirky vehicles, and this beauty perfectly demonstrates that ability. Is this Renault a contender to find its way into your garage?


  1. princeofprussia

    Aw, the poor, deformed thing. LOL…call me wierd (everyone else does), I have a love for Renaults going back to my first brand-new, from the showroom floor, 1980 LeCar. This Frog so weird you have to feel bad for it. If I were a multi-billionaire, I’d pay $20,000 for it. Since I’m not, I’d give them $2,500 and hope to GOD I didn’t need to find parts or a mechanic to work on it. LOL! And heaven help the buyer if the brake system needs work. Ever.

    Like 3
    • MichailKnoller

      Actually, Renault 4s are easy to work on. It mght be an 1100; why are you afraid of the brakes ? No shortage whatsoever; discs are identical on R 4, R 5, R 6, R 12….drum – brakes : no problem at all.

      The only awkward thing to work on is the starter – motor when LHD ( steering – column in the road )

      But I think 20.000 is just dream – world. Well, everybody has got the right to dream !

      Like 0
  2. JamesHGF

    The history of the Renault JP4 (1981 – 1990) at lautomobileancienne dot com/renault-jp4-1981-1990/ provides information on the estimated 2,500 JP4s (including 600 Frogs ordered by Renault Italy) constructed between 1981 and 1990.

    Autoscout24 dot com has 4 Renault Frog versions at € 15,900, € 18,500, € 19,999, and an over the top € 26,000 all in Italy.

    Low milage 200km! 1991 JP4 offered in La Palma, Canary Islands for € 13,000 negotiable.

    Like 1
  3. HoA Howard A Member

    Oh boy, where to start on this one? First, let me apologize to Brian for calling him out on the remark he made, but this? I was always taught, by a very politically uncorrect man, the word “Frog” to depict the French was very derogatory. I’m simply flabbergasted someone at Renault had the gall to name a car after it. Oh, it’s a cute thing, kind of a bastardized LeCar, but it really was based, as mentioned, off the highly successful Renault “4”. I never heard of, dubbed, the “Blue Jeans” car, because it appealed to a younger, working class and made over 8 MILLION in many forms! I could easily see this cruising down the PCH or the French Riviera, but I’d be a bit nervous in the hills.
    “Frog”, hmm, that’s a new one for me.

    Like 2
  4. James Christie

    JamesHGF directs you to a site which will give you chapter and verse on the JP4 – google translate will help with the French only text.
    These cars were converted used Renault 4Ls – in a town just up the road from me.
    I don’t believe they were ever sanctioned by Renault. Never met the name Frog before – maybe specific to the Italian market.
    The company called in the receiver several times before finally going under in the 80s


    Like 1
  5. Phil
  6. Malcolm Boyes

    Renault themselves made a “buggy” version of the car called a “Plein Aire”..I have a model.This one is shortened I dont belive the “Plein Aire” was and it was Renault’s answer to the very succesful Mehari from rival Citroen.My biggest question would be how to register this In Ca. where it now resides.If the seller could get that done it might well be worth $$ in the Ca market where it belongs IMHO.

    Like 0
  7. chrlsful

    the Japanese seem to have hit it since late ’70s, early 80s for “merican’s car”. A “set it’n forget it” perfect for their lifestyle. Y the shift to trucks? The “appliance” was too small? A sporty ruggedness for the ego?

    Here we have something for those 3 and 4 car garages. As silly being garaged in most this country as a Siata or Jolly, not even something to get the disenfranchised into personal transport. Yet still an auto so something I will inspect, detect, reflect, and reject (but w/a nod’n a smile!)

    Same era geo tracker or similar seems more durable and versatile. I can just see this (on the maturing Continent or GB) running down the hills to the shore during that 30 yr period (60s to ’91) to find a world so less carefree than first few runs of freedom and light. A short 7 miles average (more elevation change in Italy than Britain) run to beach but oh how different in later decades. Ie peak oil, commercialization of natural beauty (Honky Tonks), imperialists leaving colony, civil wars, increase population = pollution, congestion, I better stop. U think if I bought it (like truck buyers above) it’ll bring back the good ol daze for me (still not sure what it duz 4 them)? aahahahaa

    Like 0
  8. Bruce Willison

    My parents had a R4 station wagon brought new in 1963 in Melbourne Australia it was such a terrific car that ran on the smell of an oily rag 50-55MPG was easily achieved. It had a rod with a ball on the top of it that was the gear lever that stuck out from the dash you had to be careful changing from first gear to second as you could crunch the reverse gear which was a common occurrence. That little car brought back a lot of memories today. You could take the back seat out we brought home a refrigerator one day which the car managed perfectly .

    Like 0

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.