The other Renault 4

I haven’t had much time to work on either Renault recently but yesterday we started dismantling the blue one and while doing so the postman arrived with an envelope containing the keys and registration documents, both of which we had imagined had been lost.  So we have a few more options. We can also now manoeuvre it around the garden more easily as the steering lock had been on until now.


The white car’s body is under the green tarpaulin and the chassis under the blue one. I wonder whether I can get a red and a yellow one for the blue car. Will look nice and colourful.

Both cars are GTLs though the blue one has chrome strips on the side, chrome bumpers and black vinyl seats whereas the white one has cloth seats and no chrome.

The white car was first registered on 6 September 1985 making it older than the blue one, which is a surprise since I had thought older cars generally had chrome and newer ones didn’t. I bought the white car from a woman in Derby but it was first registered to a man (a teacher) in Over (near Cambridge) who bought it from West’s Garage in Cambridge. Wests are still a franchised Renault dealership in Cambridge though they seem to have moved premises.  Since then it has recorded 55600 miles though it has not been on the road for the last ten years.

The blue car, which I picked up from Winchelsea near Hastings in Sussex. was originally sold to a lady in Shrewsbury by Reades Of Telford on 2 June 1986. I looked up the dealership but it has long gone, making way for a plumbing shop now. Should you want to know more about Pat Reade and his garage, see Wellington Through Time). This car has done 61,500 miles and has been off the road for five years.

So the plan is still to remove the body from the blue car and compare the two chassis to see which is easier to repair. Then build up one good car from the best parts from each. I wish I had tried to start the blue one now but the lack of keys and some burnt out wiring under the bonnet put me off trying. Now it’s too late since I’ve removed most of the things that connect the engine to anything else. Still I know the white car runs.






Another Renault 4


One thing leads to another and before you know it you have another garden feature. Someone offered me another Renault 4 for free if I could take it away this weekend, so I called Ollie and he came over last night and  we left at 5  this morning and drove to Winchelsea Beach in Sussex.  The car was in the back garden fast up against a wall and hadn’t been moved for a couple of years and the keys were nowhere to be found. So I had to disconnect the steering column and we manhandled it little by little, turning by yanking on the wheels, around the house and down a steep slope onto the road. There was a time when I thought we’d have to come home empty-handed, but after a couple of hours it was on the trailer and we were heading back to Kinver.

First impression is that it might be better than  the one I’ve got, so that a bit confusing. Jacqui thinks it’s another pile of ___ but I pointed out that it was a free pile of ___ and one should never look a gift horse in the mouth.


Renault 4 Restoration – Body off

About five weeks ago I bought C840LEW, a Renault 4GTL. Since then I have been gradually dismantling it. Some things come off nice and easily and some take hours of wrenching and swearing. The body is held onto the chassis by 23 screws. It’s all pretty basic. My body was held on by 22 screws which was a problem because the missing screw was beneath a metal patch that had been welded in place years ago by someone fighting the ravages of rust and not imagining for a minute that anyone in 2016 would want to get at said screw to separate body from chassis. So they welded the plate to both chassis and body. That took me a while to sort out. But eventually I was pretty sure all screws were out and everything inside the car that connected to the engine or chassis or wheels had been removed . I also had to laboriously remove, with a heat gun and kitchen knife, all the horrible black sticky putty stuff that was between the two parts sticking them together.

In the end the body came off quite easily and it was quite a relief to realise that I had not forgotten anything and that the wooden dolly I had made to support the body was the correct dimensions.



Next job is to get the engine out.

The Lotus is back – Loton Park 16 May 2016

lotus engine bay - Copy

Well, the Lotus got fixed and was ready in time. New Super twin plate racing clutch, new clutch master cylinder, new slave cylinder, new alternator and new engine mounting. I’m broke!

However, it got me to and from Loton twice this weekend – an hour’s trip each way from Kinver, and performed faultlessly on the hill.

This was a two day meeting, a format which seems to me to be universally disliked around the paddock (at least by those I speak to). We had three practice runs on the Saturday and two competition runs on the Sunday. My first was at about 08.45 and then my second was hours later, after lunch.  It was good chatting to people throughout the day, but I would rather have had more runs, especially as I did a PB of 60.21 on my second run and the conditions were perfect for another try at a sub 60 second time.

paddock and lotus

It was a round of the Paul Matty Sports Car Championship so there were lots of Lotus entered and I was pleased to record a faster time than any of the other Elises or Exiges and to pick up the class win.

It was a beautiful sunny day and everything in the deer park was very green, though not Tony Adams’ and Paul Jones’ Elise. Their green Exige still wasn’t running properly so they were out in a silver Elise S2. Here’s Tony coming around Triangle.

tony adams

However, despite a terrific day I’ve decided to sell my Elise after the Saint Goueno event at the end of May and get something a bit cheaper and a bit more practical for the road or maybe share a drive if anyone offers. We’ll see.


This was the first event that I’ve worn my new HANS device in.  When trying to connect it to the helmet at home I was finding it difficult, especially when sitting in the car, but Graeme Williamson gave me some useful advice at the last Loton event – keep it tethered and put the whole thing on together.  That worked a treat and I was able to get in the car with it on and do up my harness without assistance.

One reason for selling the Elise will seem crazy to many people (especially as it’s now got so many new parts in it), but I have my new baby to look after and I need to buy some tools and new parts and it all costs money. Here she is… as you can see I have not been idle.

renault 16 MAy 2016

Maybe I should find a Gordini engine for it and enter La Vie En Bleu at Prescott. Only kidding.

I was going to write up the restoration on this blog, but have decided not to do that, but to write it up in the Projects section on Clementine’s Renault 4 Garage’s forum as there are lots of very knowledgeable Renault 4 people over there who can give me advice.  So if you want to see a blow by blow account of what’s going on and look at lots of oily and rusty things, here is the link – 1985 GTL C840LEW.


Renault 4 Day 3

Bank holiday Monday. I thought about a walk up on Kinver Edge or a trip in the S2000, top down, into North Wales, lunch by the river in Bewdley or a day in the garden, but settled instead on removing the front wings from the Renault 4, which Jacqui has named Lou (from the number plate) but refers to as ‘that pile of ___.

01 wing removed

It took quite a while getting the right wing off as all the fixings were rusted. The wing was no good and the inner wing is accident damaged so I took an angle grinder to some of the stubborn ones. The bottom most one was a pain though as I didn’t want to damage the triangular panel behind it. Oh, by the way, it seems I am dehusking it. I learnt that word from a French website which I was using to know where all the fixings were. I failed my O Level French but used Google Translate. Marvellous.  The inner wings are cheeks.  Anyway, I digress.

02 wing in place

I decided not to tackle the other wing as that is good enough to save, so I am now pondering how to remove it. My son suggested a miniature cutter that goes into an electric drill and ordered me one for a fiver. Amazon now offer a one hour delivery (Amazon Prime Now it’s called) but he is not keen on increasing Amazon’s profits so I’ll have to wait a couple of days for it.  Therefore, I turned my attention to the interior and removed the rubber mats.  Under them the sound proofing (I suppose it is) was sodden and fell into messy pieces as I removed it.  However, all the floor is there, which is good (though it is not of equal thickness).

03 wet floor

05 thrown away

I also removed the front doors, the seat belts and the seats.

07 seats out 1


The Renault 4 is a particularly light car,  lighter even than my Elise, but the rear door is made of lead. I don’t know why Renault did this and only found out when it fell from the open position onto my head as I was removing the rear seat belts.  I decided to call it a day at that point.


Strange Bedfellows

renault and lotus

Before introducing my new toy, yes, as you can see I have the Elise back.  It needed a new twin plate Super Clutch, new master and slave cylinders and a new alternator. Those new windows for the house are never going to get bought at this rate.  I need to drive the Lotus a bit on the road this weekend to make sure it’s all OK, but it should be ready for Loton on 14/15 May and then Saint Goueno at the end of the month.

The old clutch


So what’s with the Renault 4? Well, one thing all this hillclimbing has highlighted is my complete lack of mechanical know how.  I work in a university as a educational technologist and my working life is sat in front of a computer dealing with words like these…

learning wordle

All the work on the Elise is done by someone else and I am very envious of people who can maintain and fix their own cars.  So I’ve decided to teach myself some new skills.  I reckon with my knowledge of the internet and how to connect with the right people online and find the information I will need, I should be able to do it.

So the plan is to deconstruct the little Renault (though how large it looks next to the Elise!), fix anything that’s broken and then put it all back together.  It’s a bit daunting, but I like a challenge and this 4L is certainly going to be one. It’s been sat rotting for a few years and has been home to some mice, but it cost less than the clutch on the Elise and if I had bought a good one, what would be the point of taking it all apart?

I explained all this to Jacqui who reminded me of my clocks phase.  That was about 30 years ago and it is true that I deconstructed quite a few clocks back then and not one told the time afterwards.  But this will be different!  I have the World Wide Web and am going to learn a new language. Watch this space.

car wordle

And why a Renault 4? I like them. They’re simple, have a separate chassis so you can lift the body off and most parts are readily available. Also, they’re small and light (600 kg) so it will fit in my garage.