It’s rare to see a car celebrate its 20th birthday while it’s still in production, but the Renault 4 managed to do just that in 1981. Visually, the 4 had gone almost unchanged since it was officially presented in 1961. It was still popular in the early 1980s, too, sales didn’t begin to seriously decline until a wave of more modern compacts hit the market halfway through the 1980s.
Renault released a limited-edition model called Jogging in May of 1981 to celebrate the 4’s 20th birthday. It was unabashedly aimed at younger buyers and, interestingly, it was marketed as “the car that wears sweat pants.” The Jogging gained 13-inch steel wheels borrowed from the Renault 5, a two-tone blue and white paint job, and a huge canvas sunroof. The finishing touches were a rainbow-colored stripe that went around the car, as well as “Jogging” stickers on the hood and on the hatch.
The multi-colored treatment extended in the cabin, where the seats had tubular frames similar to the ones found in early and base-model 4s. The frames were painted white, and the dark blue fabric was accented by a rainbow-colored stripe. The door panels were upholstered using the same fabric found on the seats, and the dashboard was painted white to match the body. Finally, every Jogging came standard with a sports bag that matched the upholstery.
Renault did not change — or paint — anything under the hood. The Jogging was powered by a stock, GTL-sourced 1.1-liter four-cylinder engine that was bolted to a four-speed manual transmission. The four generated 34 horsepower and 54 lb-ft. of torque, enough to send the 4 to a top speed of approximately 75 mph. Four small drum brakes took care of stopping the car; front discs didn’t come standard until 1983.
Only 5,000 examples of the Renault 4 Jogging were built in 1981, though the cars weren’t numbered. They were distributed in the Benelux countries and in France, where the limited-edition model carried a base price of 29,680 francs. By contrast, a standard 4 GTL listed for roughly 1,200 francs less. The Jogging was criticized by the press due to its price. It was aimed at young buyers, but it cost more than any other Renault 4 at the time. Its target audience was more likely to buy a base-model (or a used) Renault 4 than an expensive special edition. Still, the 5,000 examples were all spoken for.
It’s worth noting that a second run of Jogging-badged cars were built in about 1985 and sold exclusively in Germany. They were also based on the GTL, but their appearance was more discrete and the canvas sunroof was replaced with a smaller plexiglas unit (see below) that popped up.