When I discovered this Thursday 14th January 2021 the Renault 5 EV unveiled by Luca de Meo, an image instantly impressed the retina of my eyes: 1996 and the Geneva Motor Show, with the presentation of the Renault Fiftie, the rehabilitated 4CV icon!
Indeed, on the Renault stand at the 1996 Geneva Motor Show, an ochre-yellow chip deliciously plunges us into positive nostalgia as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 4CV. It’s the Fifty. “This concept car is a request from Renault’s communication department, at the time directed by Alain Dubois-Dumée” recalls Patrick Le Quément. But this car was absolutely not programmed.
“If it hadn’t been for this anniversary, we would have designed something other than a small car, but frankly, the 4CV made history, so I put a team on this project. Benoît Jacob designed an absolutely charming machine that managed to capture the essence of the 4CV’s bonhomie in a coupe silhouette. Inside, Axel Breun played with simplicity and brought the wicker on board, where Isabelle Charles and Bénédicte de Sainte-Marie took care of the colours and materials. »
In the end, Fiftie is a car “full of charm” and, like the Twingo three years before it, seduced with a rather smiling face! This car, which went against Renault Design’s desire to go back to strong concepts, with a touch of futurism, finally pleased everyone, including Le Quément! “I loved the rear end with its kite lights, very much in the friendly spirit of Benoît Jacob!”
On this project, Jacob was in the final competition with Stefan Guarda and Mark Walters. However, Benoît Jacob explained to us in 1996 that “we had an interesting rear end but the front end seemed a bit heavy, so we modified it to find the lighter and smaller side of the 4CV.” As for Axel Breun, he thought about rattan from the start because “I was looking for a really different material that contrasts with the rather cold aluminium. Rattan is a pleasant material to the touch and is reminiscent of the 1950s with picnic baskets!”
Above, from left to right: Axel Breun for the interior, Benoît Jacob for the exterior, Patrick le Quément, Jean-Marie Souquet and, from the back, Jean-François Venet, whose intimate portrait you will find at the end of January in the quarterly LIGNES/auto#02 (to be ordered at the end of January on our e-commerce site: https://lignesautoeditions.fr/).
It is the D3 workshop (below) then managed by Bernard Pene, who stayed thirteen years at Renault before creating his own company. The D3 and Renault Industrial Design teams gave birth to a Fiftie so endearing that production was then envisaged. The concept car was studied on the technical platform of the Spider, with a central rear engine. For the latter, it was a new, ultralight 1.2 DF7 with 60 bhp.
The architecture thus imposes two unique places and, on the industrial side, production in a factory capable of manufacturing small series. Alpine’s factory in Dieppe is, of course, being considered. In the end, the project was quickly abandoned, as Patrick Le Quément recalls. “At the time, we watched a lot of the Japanese who manufactured many small series, but we quickly realised that it wasn’t for us!”
In 2021, a quarter of a century later, the R5 EV can be considered a descendant of this Z-07 project. The story stutters but this time it’s the right one: a mythical Renault will be given its modernised version and… totally electrified!