24 August 2023
Solido 1988 Renault 4LF4 – Renault Véhicules Industriels
When Renault launched its ‘4’ in 1961, 4, it was a time when several decades of economic stagnation were giving way to growing prosperity and surging car ownership in France. Although it was marketed as a short estate car, its minimal rear overhang and single top-hinged rear opening effectively made it the world's first mass-produced hatchback, as well as it being the first front-wheel-drive family car produced by Renault. Production passed the 1 million mark in 1966 and carried on in France until 1992 (1994 in Slovenia), with over 8 million having left the line by then.
In early 1956, Renault’s Chairman, Pierre Dreyfus, launched the project to compete against Citroën’s 2CV. The Renault 4 shared many design traits with the older Citroën 2CV in order to allow it to fulfill the same role as a versatile utility car, especially for people in rural France and other parts of the world with poor roads. It had a large structural platform with a separate, simple body.
Renault inevitably used the platform to convert its successful design into a panel van (Fourgonnette), which featured a ‘high cube’ rear bodyshell and a unique lift-up, removable domed rear panel on its roof, nicknamed 'giraffon' (giraffe hatch) at the top rear. It allowed bulky objects to be stowed high up while keeping the rear door closed. The main glazed swing rear door made access from the pavement side easier for loading.
The van remained on sale in Europe until 1993 (production exceeded 2 million) and was replaced by the Renault Express (Extra in UK and Ireland, Rapid in Germany), which was based on the second generation Renault 5.
With a loading capacity of 300 kg and an impressive interior volume, Renault’s 4 F4 quickly became the must-have van for tradesmen across all industries. Economical to maintain, it underwent a number of improvements over its long life.
The latest in Solido’s line of these rather wonderful 1/18 scale diecasts carries a rather evocative Renault Véhicules Industriels livery, in true Renault corporate style. With opening cab doors and steerbale/posable front wheels, detailing is rather good and the interior is most pleasing. Unlike Norev’s release of a few years ago, the rear door doesn’t open, so neither does the giraffon roof. But this shouldn’t detract from what is a great model and it represents excellent value at this price point.