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This is the fourth Spanish-made Renault 4 our family has owned.
They used to be commonplace (and very cheap) here in Catalonia, where they were known as ‘cuatro latas’ – which translates as ‘four tin cans’ – due to their austere quality. All of ours have proved to be fun, simple and rugged machines.
My brother once owned a fire-engine-red R4 saloon that was clocked at 162kph (100mph) by the local guardia civil, but they let him off due to sheer disbelief and then enjoyed a couple of beers at our family bar before heading off to continue their evening shift.
This 1984 F6 van was found for sale near the city of Figueres for €500 (about £450), with a very dubious six-month MoT included.
It had belonged to a prestigious castle, casino and vineyard business, so the little Renault was used as a delivery van for its wines and cavas in the ’80s.
We bought it as a rolling advert for a company we had at that time, but shortly after we put it into use the head gasket blew.
While it was being repaired, we decided to check out some other dubious items.
The rear brakes needed work, along with floor repairs in each front footwell, which is common on these vans due to the poor rear door seals plus a nose-down stance, allowing water to collect.
But after other consumables were replaced and a new carb was fitted, it was once again fighting fit.
To add some extra charm and character we fitted whitewall tyres, chrome hubcaps and a sports car’s rear luggage rack to the roof, where it now holds a pair of antique beer and soda crates in place.
The sun-bleaching and surface rust are both paint effects we tried out, but the dings and dents are very real.
We sold off our business, but decided to keep the Renault as our local runabout, so it now shares yard space with our modern car and my 1958 wide-frame Vespa.
It is used daily for my commute, clocking up around 95 miles a week.
It requires an MoT every six months due to its past industrial classification, but passes each time without drama.
Due to its ratty aesthetic it surprises many that it is actually road-legal.
Classed as a ‘mixto’, it has a rear bench seat and small side windows.
On an open road it will still reach 120kph and around the small villages of the Baix Empordà it performs brilliantly – and any odd scratch or ding it picks up just adds to its charm.
It brings smiles to many faces and is appreciated by both young and old.
Many older folk have obviously owned Renault 4s in the past, and all use the same push-and-pull arm gesture when describing the quirky gearchange.
It qualifies for classic insurance and is free from the local annual road tax. It has cost us very little since its initial purchase and continues to give us miles of smiles.
We have found a mattress that fits in the rear perfectly once the bench is removed, so it has even become an overnight sleeper for evening trips to our local beach bars.
It’s far from being a camper of any sort, but it remains cool with its quirky sliding windows and pop-up rear door hatch – and, believe it or not, at 6ft 2in I can lie flat (just).
So thank you to Renault, for building the brilliant F6.
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- Owned by Paul Harvey
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