For years, the Renault 4’s main target audience was folks who lived in rural areas and needed a robust, practical car to get them and their gear from point A to point B. Over the course of the 1970s, the automaker realized young drivers were attracted to the 4 because of its cheap price so it attempted to capitalize on that burgeoning clientele by offering a limited-edition model called 4 Safari.
Introduced in September of 1975 as a 1976 model, the 4 Safari was based on the bare-bones, entry-level 4 L. It immediately stood out from the rest of the 4 lineup because both bumpers, all four door handles and both door mirrors were painted flat black. Rubber trim was affixed to both sides of the car and buyers could choose from a wide palette of bright model-specific colors including turquoise, green, dark blue and metallic gray. Beige was also offered but it was rarely selected.
Inside, the Safari featured individual tubular front seats wrapped in a colorful multi-tone cloth upholstery. The front seats featured built-in head rests, and the rear bench could fold forward when extra cargo space was needed. Storage bins built into the dashboard and a Renault 5-sourced steering wheel rounded up the modifications in the cabin.
Power came from a stock 782cc four-cylinder engine that made 30 horsepower at 4,700 rpms and 36 lb-ft. of torque at 2,600 rpms. Power was sent to the front wheels via a four-speed manual transmission.
All 1976-model Renault 4s were equipped with an alternator instead of a generator and the Safari was no exception. Additionally, a voltmeter was installed on the bottom right of the instrument cluster.
The Safari retailed for 13,992 francs in 1976. To put that figure into perspective, that same year the stock 4 L sold for 13,400 and the range-topping TL model cost 14,900.
Renault axed the 4 Safari when the 1979 model year kicked off in July of 1978. Precise production figures are not available but the Safari was not particularly popular because even buyers in the 1970s were generally unwilling to pay extra for bright colors.
All photos provided by Renault’s archives department.