CC Capsule: 1988 Renault 4 GTL Clan – The Fantastique Four’s Finale

It’s been a minute since we’ve had a gander at the R4, hasn’t it? Fortunately, these are an object of worship in this country (still baffling to me, but what do I know), so I run into them on a fairly regular basis. This later model was particularly pristine – and seemingly willing to be photographed, so it’ll do nicely.

The R4 was launched back in 1961, so by the ‘80s, it was getting on a bit. But Renault knew how to squeeze out more sales from this venerable vehicle.

The GTL was the “big” R4 since January 1978. That meant it had a 1.1 litre engine providing 34hp (DIN), allowing for a top speed of about 120kph, wind and road conditions permitting. The addition of front disc brakes in 1983 made the GTL the most user-friendly R4 of them all. Externally, to make it stand out of the range a bit more, the GTL received tubular overriders on their front end and trendy body cladding on their flanks, as seen on the 1983 brochure picture above.

Our feature car is notably missing this added plastic, which I assume was taken off the car when it was re-sprayed in this lovely shade of sky blue. Both decisions are fine by me. But in doing so, assuming this is a Euro-market car, it also lost its “Clan” stickers.

The “Clan” denomination was added to the GTL in 1986 (in parallel, the 950cc TL was dubbed “Savane”), along with a final set of ameliorations to the car’s cabin, including a snazzy (but less aggressively coloured) tartan-esque upholstery and the addition of a digital clock on the dash, alas missing in our CC.

Of course, due to its quarter-century of age, the R4 was now on the way out, but it sure took its sweet time exiting the stage.

A final set of changes was implemented in 1989 to make the “safety pack” (rear fog lamp, back-up lights, passenger-side mirror) default on the GTL Clan. But with production down to about 30,000 units per year, the end was nigh; it finally came in late 1992 on its home market.

The R4 is famously longer on one side than the other. This is due to its peculiar torsion bar suspension, which was also used on other Renaults of the period – for a refresher, using the R16 as an illustration, see Roger Carr’s excellent post on the subject.

The thing is this asymmetry is only clearly visible in one spot, so I took this opportunity to document it. The wheelbase on the left / driver’s side, as shown above, is about 4cm (1.5in) shorter than it is on the other side.

Although it’s been 30 years since they quit making them, with over 8 million of these made over the decades, the world is going to keep seeing Renault 4s for a long while yet.

And as long as they are revered as much as they seem to be in japan, shockingly tidy ones will keep on being sighted. C’est la vie, as they say.


Related posts:


Curbside Classic(s): 1973, 1984 & 1986 Renault 4 Export, GTL & F4 Van – Threesome On All 4s, by T87

Le Curbside Classic: Renault 4 – The First Hatchback, by PN

Storage Yard Classic: Renault 4 – French Basics, by David Saunders

Dash-Cam CC: 1984 Renault 4GTL – The Original Hatchback, by Yohai71

Pope Francis’ Latest Popemobile Is A Curbside Classic: 1984 Renault 4, by PN

Cohort Pic(k) of the Day: Renault 4 Fourgonnette – The Changing Size Of European Compact Vans, by PN

Cohort Pic(k) of the Day: 1982 Renault 4 F6 – Allez Le Blue!, by Johannes Dutch

CC Capsule: 1974 Renault 4 Export “Berline” – Too Good To Be True, by T87