Renault 4CV - Launch and Market Reception

Launch and Market Reception

The 4CV was ultimately presented to the public and media at the 1946 Paris Motor Show and went on sale a year later. Volume production was said to have commenced at the company's Billancourt plant a few weeks before the Paris Motor Show of October 1947, although the cars were in very short supply for the next year or so. Renault's advertising highlighted the hundreds of machine-tools installed and processes adopted for the assembly of the first high volume car to be produced since the war, boasting that the little car was now no longer a prototype but a reality.

On the 4CV's launch, it was nicknamed "La motte de beurre" (the lump of butter); this was due to the combination of its shape and the fact that early deliveries all used surplus paint from the German Army vehicles of Rommel's Afrika Korps, which were a sand-yellow color. Later it was known affectionately as the "quatre pattes", "four paws".The 4CV was initially powered by a 760 cc rear-mounted four-cylinder engine coupled to a three-speed manual transmission. In 1950, the 760 cc unit was replaced by a 747 cc version of the "Ventoux" engine producing 17 hp (13 kW).

Despite an initial period of uncertainty and poor sales due to the ravaged state of the French economy, the 4CV had sold 37,000 units by mid-1949 and was the most popular car in France. The car remained in production for more than another decade. Claimed power output increased subsequently to 21 hp (16 kW) as increased fuel octanes allowed for higher compression ratios, which along with the relatively low weight of the car (620 kg (1,400 lb)) enabled the manufacturers to report an 0–90 km/h (0–56 mph) time of 38 seconds and a top speed barely under 100 km/h (62 mph). The engine was notable also for its elasticity, the second and top gear both being usable for speeds between 5 and 100 km/h (3 and 62 mph); the absence of synchromesh on first gear would presumably have discouraged use of the bottom gear except when starting from rest.

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