Stored 38 Years: 1960 Renault 4CV

38 years is a long time. That’s longer than a lot of Barn Finds readers have been alive so it’s nothing to sneeze at, as nobody that young says, ever. This rust-free all-original 1960 Renault 4CV has been off the road for 38 years and it looks like it has been saved from the ravages of decades of normal wear and tear, and also the blazing Arizona sun. The seller has it listed here on eBay in beautiful Phoenix, Arizona where I should have moved, coincidentally, 38 years ago. The current bid price is $3,250 but the reserve isn’t met.

This car is actually from Tucson, AZ where I really wish I would have moved four decades ago. Have I mentioned that before? (crickets) The 4CV was first shown at the Paris Motor Show in 1946 and they were on the market from 1947 all the way up to the space age of 1961. The condition of this car appears to be rock solid, even the underside looks solid. The seller says that it’s 100% rust-free and 100% original.

They’re very unusual with the suicide doors only in the front. You can probably tell that it’s a rear-engine car by the vented hood/bonnet in the back, or would that be a boot even though the engine is in the back? Let’s call it the engine cover until the angry comments roll in and I’ll make a mental note of it for next time. The car looks like it’s in fantastic condition, doesn’t it? This thing is older than I am, believe it or not. I know.

If there’s a simpler interior I can’t think of it offhand. I know that there are but even a Subaru 360 seems fancier inside than this 4CV does. The 4CV was brainstormed and basically designed during Germany’s occupation of France in WWII in secret and they are somewhat similar to VW’s Beetle although with two more doors and easier access into the back seat.

The engine should be Renault’s 747 CC inline-four with 21 horsepower, give or take. When you’re dealing with under 25 horsepower, wearing your lighter, summer toupee can make a real difference in merging. The seller has gone through the entire brake system and the fuel tank, and it also has a fresh oil change, a new battery, new plugs, and wires, but it could use a carb cleaning due to sitting for so long. It does run and having such an original car would be fun. Have any of you owned a 4CV?

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  1. benjy58

    It needs another 38 years of storage.

    Like 3
    • Lou Tripper

      You took the very words from me. Lock this reject back up! Not benji, the car!

    • Vernon Syaley

      benjy they were a great little car fun to drive . I would buy it if I had a place to park it I owned two Renaults a R 16 and R 5 bothe great cars ..

      Like 8
  2. Cncbny

    Suicide doors? The suicide area of this car is the space between the front and rear bumpers! No mention of transmission either. I’m guessing it’s a one speed?

    Like 1
  3. Ward

    Yes, I have owned a 4CV. Found it on a bicycle ride in 1973 or ‘74, inside an open garage in NE Portland, Oregon. The owner was home. He offered it to me for free, with title. I insisted on paying something for it. We agreed on $5. It did not run. In attempting to get it running I managed to break a head bolt. I gave away the car as it sat, never did fix it. Different times!

    Like 4
  4. oilngas

    Where does the radiator go?

    • bobH Member

      Radiator is right in front of the engine, to the rear of the back seat.

      Like 4
      • bobH Member

        You can actually see a bit of the fan, just to the left of the heater box.

        Like 2
  5. bobH Member

    My memory must have faded. I would have guessed 2cv. I was working at a Renault dealer when this car was new. I never saw many of these, as the current ‘ticket’ then, was a Dauphine. Regarding transmission… the ones I saw were three speed.

    Like 2

      The Dauphene had a push button automatic transmission. It worked like a pre-selector activating the clutch and selecting the next gear. Burdumy motors Phila. sold a lot of them.

  6. 370zpp

    This one just cries out ELMER FUDD!

    Like 2
  7. Pwog Member

    Hate all you want, I like it!

    Like 29
    • Mike Hosick

      I had a Dinky of this car in red. The suicide doors opened. Funny what you’ll remember.

  8. AZVanMan

    Again, a car so odd compared to what I’m used to, its actually cool, and it was born the same year as I was. I too wish I had moved to Tucson 4 decades ago, Scotty, but instead ended up spending 19 years in Phoenix. Ah, fate. Oh, well, I love where I am now and that’s as good as it gets!

    Like 4
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Sure, rub it in, AZVanMan!

  9. E323

    My dad had one. Super cool.

    Like 2
  10. Jay Wassall

    We had one when I was a kid. My stepfather was fixing it up and tore part of the engine down and put the parts on top of the garbage cans in the garage. The garbage man came the next day and took all the parts with the trash. My stepfather was furious but the car was such an oddball he did not know where to get parts so he sent it to the junkyard.

    Like 3
  11. phil

    gordini valve cover? saw these back in the 60s. this one should be stored in a vacuum flask. a renault w/o rust!

    Like 1
  12. Howard A Member

    Does Scotty have a knack for the unusual, or what? When it hits home, even better. My, and my brothers 1st car, was a ’59 4CV. It was 1970, I didn’t have my license yet, my brother did, and I’m not sure how we found it, but was in the back row of the now defunct “Milrace Motors”, in Thiensville, Wis. They catered to all the exotics, wisely, in the suburbs of Milwaukee. We paid $25 bucks, motor was stuck, but no rust. Looked just like this. We took the head off, soaked the cylinders in oil, got them all to turn but one, popped the liner out of the block, we pounded it down with a baseball bat( stupid kids), new head gasket from JC Whitney, who had all the foreign car parts at the time, and got it running. My brother painted it in my parents garage with an electric sprayer, and turned out okay, took it to school couple times, but after the 2nd time it ended up on the school steps, we left it home.
    The finned valve cover, I think, indicates a higher hp. motor, a “Billancourt”(?) that was 845 cc’s, and a bit more hp.( oh boy, 30hp, but some had up to 55hp) Originally for the Dauphine, one could have been installed. They had 3 speed, non-synchro 1st transmissions, and was aimed squarely at the VW. The 4CV had several advantages, 4 doors, more room, a real heater( sort of). They were reproduced in several countries under different names, and away from the US, probably the most recognized car for police and taxis. It was the 1st French car to sell 1 million cars.. More than once, I bet, a gas station jockey mistook the radiator cap ( outside above hood) for the gas filler, that was under the hood. My brother would freak out at this. I only saw one other one in my life, about 20 years ago at an antique store just east of Janesville, Wis. Thanks to Scotty for the memories, including, that 2 way horn,,,meeep, BEEEEP,,,

    Like 14
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      I was wondering if you were going to see this one, Howard!

      Like 3
    • 370zpp

      Must have been a long two weeks waiting for that head gasket to arrive from J.C. Whitney.

      Like 1
      • Howard A Member

        Ha! Actually, I lived in Milwaukee, and JC Whitney was on Archer Ave. in Chicago. About 90 minutes away, we made many trips there. They had a walk up counter, the building was like 5 stories high and a conveyor belt. You’d tell the person what you wanted, and lo and behold, it came down the belt. They, at the time, were the king of oddball foreign car parts. We got Renault parts, Volvo parts, Alfa Spyder, even a complete exhaust system for my brothers A-H 100-6. It was a busy place.

        Like 2
    • 77Vette

      In the seventies my neighbor brought home a 57 Dauphine. His engine was stuck and he managed to get it free and running. he drove it as a work car smoking every where it went.

    • Cobra Steve

      Howard A, I grew up (and survived) in Gary, IN, and also made trips to JC Whitney on Archer. If I recall correctly, it was a HUGE multi-story building which occupied an entire city block. And, WW Warshawsky (spelling?) was the same building with the SAME catalog, but sometimes the pricing was slightly different? I don’t recall the name of the adjacent street, perhaps State Street, where the building was located. I do remember Warshawsky had the adjacent street address. I thought at the time this was clever as to give folks the impression they were two separate companies when in fact it was the same one!

  13. Bunky

    Very cool. Neighbor’s daughter bought one as her first car. ‘56 with a sunroof in a similar color. It was a cranky little thing. Usually ended up push starting it. Then she rolled it while “student driving”. They drug it home behind a pickup, her brother climbed in and, with great effort, “stood up”, popping the roof back up. It was trashed- and from that day on it started right up and ran perfectly.

    Like 3
  14. Cobra Steve

    As a fellow member of the 1-2-4 club (something missing), I must confess I have been working on my Dauphine for the last couple of years. Same engine and transaxle as this car, I believe.

    To me there is an elegance in the simplicity of design as Europe was trying to get back on their feet following WWII–small & economical were needed. Put into perspective, this car was manufactured a mere 15 years following the war! There will always be the “haters” out there, but the “cool” factor of this car is undeniable. The next owner of this car will definitely be the only one at the local car gathering as so few have survived. So, if one wants exclusivity, this car is for you!

    Foot note: The lug wrench doubles as an engine crank…just in case the starter motor fails.

    Like 10
  15. Cobra Steve

    Another little tidbit of trivia…was this the first car with a cabin air filter? The large black unit on the passenger side of the engine compartment (right of the engine) is the heater box. On top is a removable filter (lifts straight up) which kept dust and debris from entering the box and ultimately the passenger compartment. The Dauphine has the same unit.

    Like 5
  16. Wayne

    Ok, some of you guys (and gals) may have heard this story before. But it fits the story line. One of the options on these cars was an electric clutch. (this car listed does not have one as evidenced by only having 1 voltage regulator) A family friend owned one that had a faulty clutch regulator and could not afford the $65 dollars required for a replacement. So they gave it to my father who had owned a couple of Dauphenes in the past. We lived out in the boonies where at the ripe age of 11. I was allowed to blast (toughen in cheek) down the fire roads. (As long as I promised to take it easy.) The electric clutch disengages 2 ways. Grabbing the shift lever AND/OR letting off the throttle. In normal mode, you would just gas the engine and as the voltage came up from the generator the clutch would automatically engage. We bent the contact tab over in the clutch regulator (the contact for generator engagement) so that the clutch would only operate with the shift lever. (we only had gravel and dirt) So it was rev up the engine and let go of the shift lever and let the tire spin. (Yes, it had enough power to spin the tire(s) in the dirt or gravel.) This is how/ where I learned about swing axle rear suspension! Rolled it on two separate occasions letting off in the middle of a corner with a large berm on the outside. Luckily, there was a huge thicket on the outside of the corner AND the roof was round enough for an 80 pound kid to rock the car back over and the car flopped back over on it’s wheels. AND it did not dent the roof! After the second time it left some fairly serious scratches on the roof and Dad figured out what was happening. The next day the car was gone. Cool little car. I would love to drive one again,but not sure that I would want to own one.

    Like 1
  17. Robert

    My college friend had one. Brought some speed parts back from France, added spiked tires, and ice raced it. What blast!

  18. John B. Mc

    A great car for Europe; for the U.S. not so much!

    Like 1
  19. Malcolm Boyes

    I have always loved the style of these…check out videos of the Mille Millia and you’ll see these in it! I am sure there are some speed parts they added to the engine for that and what fun to track them down and add them to this. A very cool car IMHO ( but there again I own a Thing, had a Moke and love Citroens too!)

  20. Mark_Mitchell Member

    I own a Renault 4CV Ghia “Resort Special” (AKA Jolly). Only 50 of these were built and they had consecutive VIN numbers. All of these were sold in the US originally. There are only 10-12 known survivors. Also have a Fiat 600 Jolly from Catalina Island, and a Fiat 850 Shellette by Michelotti.

    (I tried in vain to post a photo, but kept getting error message! How do you attach photos on this site?)

    Like 1
  21. Russ Ashley

    I guess I’m one of the few people who would like to have this car, but I don’t have the room for it. I also wouldn’t pay what the bid has reached. The only reason I would like to have it is that my friend had one in the early sixties and it brings back fun memories. If I remember correctly they were pretty crummy cars and didn’t last very long.

    Like 1
  22. Phil Parmelee

    My best childhood friend’s mom owned a ’57 and later a ’61 4 CV. Rode many places with them in them. And later, that same friend’s first car: a ’58 4 CV! Good times!

  23. Jeff

    Ran across one at Yellowstone Park in 2010 traveling around the world.

    Like 2
    • mr3mx5man

      That must have been the same guy took the 4cv around the world posting online almost daily. I enjoyed following his adventures virtually:

      Like 1
    • Jeffrey Kiefer

      Yes. Thats the one I saw. Tank you! Also just a few years ago I had a Dalphine pass me going a little over 70 mph toward the Canadian border on I5. It was in beautiful condition and really surprised me.

      Like 1
  24. Eric

    Hello Girls & Boys,
    Don’t underestimate this little Big Car, it was not only a brave quiet little car in the hands on the French driving south with all the familly for the summer holidays….!

    Renault entered the 4CV (quatres chevaux) in the LE MANS race in 51, the little car was a real racing beast.
    And count many racing victories….

    The list is long
    It started in 1948 with the 5 first places in his category in the Rallye Monte Carlo.

    In 1951 the 4CV earned again the class victory in LE MANS.

    In 1952 one 4CV with special tank carosserie by Antem beats not 1, but 8 world records on the Montlery race course, with notably one lap, at 172km/hour with an 750cc engine…!

    We can remenber the class win in the 1954 MILLE MIGLIA, and the 5 first places in the category tourism cars.
    Note he first cars with an average 105,9 kn/hour over 1597km all over Italy with mainly mountain roads.

    Based on this little gem the Renault 4CV will give birth to the mythical ALPINE
    But this is another story….

    Warm regards from France to all car nuts


    Like 11
    • Cobra Steve

      Way to go Eric! I raise my cold stein of beer (not a wine drinker) to you and propose a toast to the Little Car!

      Like 3
    • Garry

      These cars were developed during WW2, hidden from the invaders. Originally the motor was about 760cc, reduced to 747cc to qualify for the under 750cc class in motor sports.
      In Australia they competed in the Redex Trials. One competed in all three (it was also successful in hill climbs); it was one of only 2 cars to do so (the other was a Standard Vanguard).
      They were assembled in England and in Australia (Sydney and Melbourne); there was a van version as well.
      In the late 1940s, early 1950s many were exported to Germany, from France.
      But wait, there’s more, my first car was one of these vehicles!

      Like 1
  25. Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

    Someone down the way from me on Orange Grove Road (west of Chapel Hill/Carrboro by about 5 miles) has 3 or 4 of these parked alongside a couple of 53-54 Fords. My son and I were driving past the other day and he asked what they were. I knew they were Renaults but not the 4CV designation. Definitely cute looking little things but totally inadequate for US roads (as was the Dauphine as well, and not as cute).

    Like 1
  26. mike--4CV guy

    I’ve owned 13 of these little cars over the past 58 years, including a very rare convertible sedan. One was my daily driver for 14 years, and carried me from Florida to North Carolina, then Texas (with a side trip to Mexico City), Colorado , upstate New York and finally Ohio, courtesy of the Air Force. My average gas mileage for the 130,000-some miles I drove it was 35.2. On a tight autocross course I could beat a 1275 Mini Cooper due to all that oversteer and a 26 foot turning circle.

    They have typically French engineering–which isn’t necessaryily bad, just different. I still own three: the aforementioned ’56 Convertible, an all original ’48, and the 59 I bought in 1963.

    Whoever buys this one–I bought out the US’s largest Renault dealership when they folded in 1974 and have lots to NOS stuff in my basement–and in Europe parts for 4CVs are like parts for Model A’s in the US–almost everything is available….

    If you haven’t guessed, I’m a big 4CV fan!

    Like 3
    • Mark_Mitchell Member

      Hi Mike, How can I get in touch with you? I have a 4CV “Resort Special”. I’d love to see pics of your Convertible-

      Like 1
      • mike

        Would love to hear from you. I’ve been keeping a register of 4CV Beach Buggies (the “proper” name) for many years and would like to add yours to the list; I’m wagering the fabrication number is in the 8845xx range…
        contact me at mike7353ataoldotcom.

        Like 1
      • Mark_Mitchell Member

        You are good! The fabrication number is 884536. How many of these do you have on your list?

    • Bo Malefors

      Hi Mike. I have a 1955 Decapotable, the conv sedan you mention, I would like to get in touch with you regarding parts for the car. Not sure how that works here. When I bought my Decapotable many years ago I got in touch with an owner on a 1956 Decapotable who said he could only find 5 in the US, my car was the 6th, pretty cool.

  27. Kevin

    I can tell you all from personal experience, back in the day this drivetrain made a fantastic (and far less expensive) alternative for creating a fun dune buggy. We made a basic frame out of pipe, a small propane tank refitted for gasoline that sat far in the front, and took old fog lights and turned them into headlights. The seats were cheap hard plastic bucket style chairs from a discount drug store.
    We had a blast with it for years! Longevity? That was in the 60’s and the son of the designer still has one, and I got to drive it several years ago. What a blast!

    Like 2
    • Mark_Mitchell Member

      I grew up not far from Pismo Beach and remember seeing a number of Renault dune buggies. Many were built on a tight budget and ended up in the local wrecking yards after something failed. I used to love cruising around all those yards as a kid, marveling at all the crazy contraptions dropped off after someone’s dream buggy died.

  28. MGSteve

    OK, maybe the memory is toast, but I “heard” that in 1959 (or ’61), in the U.S., that the Renault Dauphine out sold the VW Beetle?? Could that be true. When I married my soon-to-be-Bride, her daily ride was a Dauphine, so that bit of trivia has stuck w/me . . . true or not. Someone know, for sure????

  29. Eric

    Dear Cobra Steve,

    Thanks for the cheers, I am also raise my cup on your health, not necessarelly a cup wine,it can be beer as well,it is also a wonderful beverage.

    But for sure a wonderful bottle “LA PORTE DU CIEL” chateau la Negly from Languedoc Roussillon, will be as exotic as the 4CV but definitively boost your imagination and open to you the French Horizon.

    Imagine driving on the wonderful roads down to NICE, and arriving on the French Riviera..
    Hope I have transmit to you that feeling and it will make your day…..

    Warm regards to all
    Eric / France

    Like 1
  30. DON

    Dont know anything about these, but it looks like a VW Bug and a 48 Plymouths love child

  31. DON

    Dont know anything about these, but it looks like a VW Bug and a 48 Plymouth’s love child

  32. Mike--4CV guy

    A few more 4CV facts and answers to some of the comments posted:
    The original 4CVs were 19 hp, upped to 21, then 26 as octane ratings in Europe improved. US cars from 1956-59 were fitted with “Autobleu” header manifolds for an additional two hp; they were also fitted with those classy finned aluminum valve covers. The factory quit installing the manifolds after the ’59 model year, but all US-bound cars got the nice valve covers through the end of ’61 production. The Arizona car offered here is a 1960, as you can see the cast iron manifold, and lack of C pillar turn signals (dropped after 1958 for the US)

    Renault did outsell VW for at least several months in 1958/59. Then reality set in. Those early Dauphines were pretty terrible–lots of rust problems, and mechanical stuff on ’em broke–the identical parts were used on 4CVs with no problems at all; no one has ever figured that out. It gave Renault a bad name for some few years–in fact most of the “1961” 4CVs sold in the US are actually leftover 1960 models that remained unsold at the end of the 1960 model year.

    Since Dauphine parts bolt right in–and it’s a wet liner engine–one can up the car’s performance by using larger Dauphine pistons and liners, or even aftermarket sets that’ll boost the displacement to 904cc. Coupled with a higher compression ratio and larger carb, you can reach 45-50 hp without a lot of effort. That’ll give the same power-to-weight ratio as an early Sprite/Midget. And a 4 speed all synchro transaxle from a late Dauphine (4.37 final drive) or an early R8 (4.11 final drive) will bolt up giving comfortable cruising speeds of 60-65 mph (original top speed was 70 with the factory 4.87 final drive). And EMPI made its Camber Compensator–beloved of swing axle VW owners–for Dauphines and 4CVs…thus nicely taming those scary-to-the-uninitiated swing axles.

    Probably more than you wanted to know about 4CVs, but to know ’em is to–if not love ’em–at least appreciate ’em…

    Like 6
    • bobH Member

      Thanks Mike…. I might have also mentioned the ‘Gordini’ option that was available on the Dauphine.

    • Robt

      Mike 4cv-guy
      Love the motor hop-up tips. Classic. If it’s got wheels and runs let’s race it!

  33. Cobra Steve

    With three days to go the bidding is up to $6,500! Makes me feel a bit better about being “upside down” ($$$) in my Dauphine. Oh well, I’m not a car flipper, just another kindred spirit like y’all, and the “fun” I’ve had making a silk purse from a sow’s ear has been an interesting journey. Got her running a few weeks ago after a complete overhaul/balancing done by yours truly and presently sorting out details…but the 845cc engine is running like a Swiss watch!

  34. Wayne

    Cobra Steve and Howard, J.C. Whitney and Warshasky (spelling?) were in fact the same company. One was a parts store and the other was mail order. The location was 22nd and Archer. (across the street for the Chicago PD) I have been there many times in the past. (although the last time was when I was getting my 1972 Chev. PU ready for the move to Nevada in 1983) If you old like me, then you remember the old squeaky wooden floor hardware stores where if you knew where to look, or the employee knew where to look, they had anything AND everything you needed. Warshawsky’s was just like that. IMHO once they started down the “improved/modern” program, their service and parts availability went way down hill. (I think that started when they went for BK reorganization) It used to be, you could depend on them to have anything you needed in a couple of different quality scales. (YOU HAD TO KNOW WHAT TO LOOK FOR!) I miss the old ‘Shawsky!

  35. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Auction update: this 4CV sold for $6,500.

  36. AlThompson III

    My first car was a 4-CV. Very dependable and fun to drive.

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