Back in September we reported that Francis, the new Pope, had been given a 1984 Renault R4 by an Italian parish priest. The bare bones car, with over 185,000 miles on the odometer, is a true reflection of the Pope’s focus on the poor that was underscored on Christmas Eve when he gave gifts to impoverished immigrants living in a shelter. The Pope’s “pre-owned” Renault, powered by a 1.1 liter motor with 34 horsepower, is a far cry from the official Popemobile, a custom built Mercedes. Pope Francis reportedly drives the humble car himself on errands around Vatican City.
We found a vintage R4, similar to the Pope’s — his is papal white as you might expect and this one is red — in the village of Girona, near Barcelona. No, it wasn’t thrown out with the trash but we think the setting is poignantly appropriate in light of the apostolic exhortation in which His Holiness voiced criticism of “unbridled consumerism.”
While we’re dealing with Renault, a brand that hasn’t been sold in the United States since the 1980s, take a look at another humble hooptie from France’s top automaker. It’s a first generation (1993 model year) Renault Twingo, the name of which suggests a creme-filled snack. While not quite as spartan as the R4, it’s still pretty basic, three quarter moon headlights notwithstanding. With a 1.2 liter motor providing 55 horsepower, it has a 21 horsepower advantage over the Pope’s car but we’d still put our money on Pope Francis’ R4 if St. Peter’s Square ever becomes a drag strip. He’d have a very powerful “sponsor.”
Renault currently produces the Twizy quadricycle, Europe’s top selling plug-in electric vehicle. Maybe these should be issued to members of the College of Cardinals as a way to show solidarity with Francis and the poor? Just a Christmas thought.
Formula 1 Champion Sebastian Vettel messed around with an Twizy Sport F1 edition last spring. Looks like fun, doesn’t it?
If we were going to buy a Renault, we’d certainly consider this ’59 4CV. Its dignified black paint job would go well with a clerical collar, right padre?