Ermintrude the Renault 4 - Restoration
Rust is all a Renault 4 owner need worry about as the mechanical bits seem to last forever. Renault 4s don't even rust to the extent of other cars - my MGA and MGB restorations were much more extensive than I intend this one to be.
Ermintrude the R4 has rust in all the usual areas so these restoration pages could act as a buyers guide for potential purchasers. Click on the pictures to enlarge, and on the "more" links below for more information
Ermintrude had been owned by a gentleman from London for over 10 years. He stopped driving her when one of the rear suspension mountings came adrift from the chassis. The car would have been sold for spares if I hadn't donated my hard earned £50 and rescued her. I bought Ermintrude in mid September 2003.
Too many Renault 4s have gone to the crusher due to rear suspension rust. As these cars have a separate chassis, the body is just there to keep the rain out. As long as there aren't any jagged wings to take out pedestrians, and the seatbelt mountings are OK the body should never be the cause of an MOT failure.
Removing the Body
I removed Ermintrude's body from her chassis to make body and chassis repairs easier. The repairs can be done to a reasonable standard with the body still attached, but the welding is much less effort with the body removed.
The body is held on to the chassis by dozens of bolts, all of which are pretty easy to find. These need to be undone, and various wires and cables detached. I happened to have a Loadall Farm Special which made removing the body very easy. An alternative is to break the rubber sealant with a knife and ask four strong blokes to do the lifting.
The rear suspension was so far gone on Ermintrude that I had to make a jig to ensure that all mountings ended up in the right place. The LHS mounting hadn't completely severed - it was still held on by a small piece of metal but it wasn't much use for positioning, so I used dimensions from the factory workshop manual.
The original chassis on Ermintrude lasted for 20 years. Perhaps with a little rust proofing this chassis could last as long again.
All 4 wings rust on a Renault 4. Wings are cheap and can be unbolted and replaced so don't present a great problem. The doors don't tend to rust, so the main rust issues in the body are the corners of the body, mostly at the rear of the car, and the rear wheelarches.
The photograph shows the area behind the rear doors which had comprehensively rotten on this car. More information about Renault 4 body repairs can be found by following the link below.
Preparation for paint and painting is the most time consuming part of any restoration, and painting is the only part of the restoration that relies on fine weather.
Clementine has chosen to paint this car in mid winter. Fortunately the fine weather of the summer extended into November, and with a bit of a rush the paintwork was finished before December.
Reassembly was a bit of a rush, but Ermintrude was completed just in time to go to Scotland for New Year celebrations. She proved completely reliable.
Ermintrude drives extremely well. The new shock absorbers really do transform the ride. She is also surprisingly quiet. She struggled with some of the Scottish hills, especially with 5 passengers on board.
Read about the Gordini restoration