1990s / Driven daily / French / Renault

Driven daily: Renault 4 TL

Italy was one of the Renault 4’s most popular export markets. For decades, the 4 appealed to buyers who wanted an affordable car that was cheap to run, reliable, but more spacious than Fiat’s 126 and Panda. While many 4s were crushed during Italy’s cash-for-clunkers program, it arguably remains the most common classic French car on Italian roads today.

I spotted the 4 TL showcased here in northern Italy a couple of weeks ago. It immediately stood out because it’s finished in an eye-catching shade of dark green called Sequoia (paint code 996) that was only offered in 1991 and in 1992, so during the final two years of 4 production. The lozenge-shaped turn signal repeaters on the front fenders indicate this is a 4 that was built for the Italian market, not one imported from nearby France later on.

It’s got all of the minor dings, dents, and scratches you expect to see on a car that’s spent its whole life in Italy, where lane markings and traffic signs are often merely vague suggestions, but it’s remarkably clean considering it’s at least a quarter of a century old. Many 4s in Italy and abroad were driven into the ground by a succession of owners who needed cheap transportation; this one appears to have been used regularly but sparingly, and to have been well maintained.

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