Renault 4s in Colombia – Colombia’s ‘Faithful Friend’ (Amigo Fiel)

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We had just arrived in Colombia and were leaving the town of Mocoa, just north of a border crossing with Ecuador, when I spotted a shiny metallic blue car, a Renault 4!

“Look!”

Karin-Marijke was sitting right beside me and we were slowly rolling in second gear so there was no need to raise my voice, but I was elated to see one my favorite cars.

The Renault 4 is a classic and we didn’t see that many on the road in South America. I think the last time I saw a Renault 4 was in Argentina a few years earlier.

Read More: The Border Crossing of San Miguel (Ecuador – Colombia)

Well conserved red R4

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Classic Cars in South America

It is funny how you can pinpoint specific brands to some countries:

  • Ecuador had Chevrolet written all over its cars, even if we knew them as Nissan or Suzuki.
  • And, of course, you see Trollers only in Brazil and Ford Falcons in Argentina.
  • We tended to see old Peugeots in Ecuador, 2CVs in Argentina, and Bugs in Brazil.

So while driving I pushed the camera to Karin-Marijke’s window and shot a few clicks.

“Did you see that? That was a Renault 4!”

Karin-Marijke was not particularly impressed. She doesn’t have the same kind of special relationship with old and beautiful cars.

“A Renault 4,” I repeated.

“Yes, you just told me.”

How Many Can You Spot?

It was not just one lucky shot. When traversing south Colombia we came across a whole gang of old Renaults, with the majority being the famed 4. By then Karin-Marijke joined in the hunt and pointed them out parked by the side of the road or hidden behind a pile of wood.

It felt like the game children play in Bolivia with yelling, “Peta!” when spotting a VW Beetle parked or passing by. The first to see it gets a point.

Read More: Having Fun on the Road – Crossing the Amagá Railroad Bridge

Weather-beaten red R4

An interesting detail from Wikipedia:

In Colombia, the car was one of the most sold, and remained in the memory of many Colombians, it was nicknamed “Amigo fiel” (Faithful friend) and was manufactured in the SOFASA plant in Envigado (a city near Medellín) from 1970 to 1992. Two of the most popular versions included the Master (1,022 cc) and the Líder (Leader), with a more powerful 1,300 cc engine. The first Renault 4 manufactured in Envigado Colombia was called Azul Pastrana, because it was blue and President Misael Pastrana opened the plant

Good conserved green R4

Isn’t it strange that we saw only old Renaults and not a single other European brands such as the Citroën 2CV, the VW Beetle, the Peugeot 404 or 504, or the Volvo Amazon or 244?

Maybe you can enlighten me (feel free to sound off in the comment section below!).

More history of the Renault 4 in Colombia on this site about classic cars in Colombia (in Spanish).

Good conserved red R4
Renault 4 in Colombia

An Electric, Convertible Renault 4?

Update July 2019.

By chance I stumbled upon the notice that at the 10th annual 4L International (4L is another name for the Renault 4), Renault revealed a one-off e-Plein Air (French for ‘fresh air’). A cute little white, toy-like car with blue seats.

But don’t keep your hopes up, according to the article from autocar.co.uk:

The e-Plein Air remains a concept for now, with Renault expressing no intent to bring it to production, although its creators say that they “will of course be attentive to the reactions of enthusiasts and potential customers.

Which Raises the Question:

What do you think, does a convertible, electric e-Plein Air have a chance on the current car market and would you want one? 

Okay, not an R4 but another popular Renault

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5 thoughts on “Renault 4s in Colombia – Colombia’s ‘Faithful Friend’ (Amigo Fiel)”

  1. Hi Karin+Cohen !
    another good+simple post , maybe a bit too short…
    the Renault 4L ( as we call them in Portugal ) are abundant in Colombia and NOT very rare in some parts of Europe ; you see a some of them in Portugal,Spain,Romenia,Bulgaria and……FRANCE , at the country side ; the very only reason is that they are extremely reliable cars , simple mechanics and zero electronics!
    As a good example , two guys (father and son ) recently finished a full AFRICA TOUR during 1year, both coasts, in a R 4L , without any majour problems ( except they were robbed 4 times….) ; so , some people are wise to keep such cars for a long time…
    stay well and in a safe mode !!!
    all the best
    david+marilia
    http://www.estrelasnarotadaseda.com

    Reply
  2. Hi there,

    Had the same fascination while driving through Colombia a few months ago. I actually learned to drive on a R4 and my family owned 2 for more than 20 years. I then thought: how many can I see within 24 hours? Well, as we were getting closer to the border of Ecuador, I actually saw 48 within one day. Truly amazing sights!

    Safe traveling!

    Camille

    Reply
  3. Another very good reason to see many R4 in Colombia is the fact that they were produced here from 1970 to 1992 in the SOFASA production plant in Envigado.

    In Colombia the R4 is part of the local history much like the Willys Jeep were in the coffee region.

    The R4 was called “El Amigo Fiel” or in plain English The Trusted Friend, due to its durability and simple mechanics.

    see for more info
    http://www.eltiempo.com/archivo/documento/CMS-5929327

    Reply
  4. I point out the same with Renault 12s (the one beige one in your photos with the guy sitting in the back) – you see them everywhere in Latin America! My wife Yasha got used to that comment and quite often points them out herself.
    Where the roads get really rough it’s either Japanese pick-ups, Toyota Hilux and Isuzu the most, or Renault 12. If anybody races past you on a dirt road in a ‘normal’ car it’s also usually a Renault 12 – these Renaults seem to last forever!

    Reply
  5. THE CAR YOU CANNOT GREESE as there are no grese points also the bottom is flat so you can slide the same in all the god fosaken places you have been,If you drop one spanner in the bonnet it is dificult to take it out.Only the tyres will get cut if you take her to the places you have been.great

    Reply

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