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RECENTLY PERUSING A 1955 R&T road test of the Renault 4CV evoked vivid memories of my first car being a scaled-down version of Dad’s 1955 Ford Fairlane Sunliner.
Why this 1958 English Ford Consul Drophead, and not a French Renault 4CV? Briefly, as you’ll learn in Parts 1 and 2 today and tomorrow, because early in 1961 it was a dark and stormy night.
Backstory. I had been reading R&T since May of 1954, when Dad brought this magazine into our home in an effort to keep me from hiding girly magazines. Not that I was all that sure what girly magazines were about, but no matter. His intentions were laudable.
Jump to 1961. Cleveland Public Schools at the time graduated seniors in January as well as June. And being October-born, I was in the skewed January group, with more time for earning college money before the fall.
Seeking employment, of course, I needed a car, right? So I combined my job hunt with checking out used car ads in Cleveland’s two daily newspapers.
Funding? This car hunt was a delicate matter: Dad, the obvious funder of my search, worked for U.S. Steel. Yet I was already heavy into R&T and hot for foreign machinery, albeit necessarily modestly priced. The 1958 Morgan, 25,000 mi, cream/red, never raced, $1550, would have to wait.
Just about when I was near lining up a job, I discovered a late-model Renault 4CV for sale. And, with some reluctance, Dad agreed to learn more about the car.
The R&T Road Test. Here, let’s digress and focus on that R&T 1955 road test, my principal source of information in prepping Dad for the test drive.
“Light, Cheap and Sprightly” read R&T. It continued, “Any attempt at evaluating the Renault 4CV should begin with the price, for here is one of the cheapest automobiles in the world; $1195 on the east coast and $100 more in the west.”
So far, so good. The used example in 1961 was commensurately priced, though I forget how much.
The Good News. R&T wrote, “Anyone who will take the trouble to study and drive this car cannot fail to realize that here is a very remarkable machine, well engineered, well built and eminently practical for a variety of uses.”
Gee, it’s as though they’re writing this directly for Dad (and me).
“Essentially,” R&T continued, “the Renault is a large car scaled down, rather than being a freak design.”
I’m liking this better and better.
Brief Technicalities. “It has independent suspension on all four wheels, a four cylinder ohv engine with no ‘short-cuts’ to lower costs, 4 doors and seating 4 adults.”
However, neither Dad nor I paid attention to the placement of those front door handles. Of which more anon in tomorrow’s Part 2. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2022