I think because I grew up with VW Beetles, I’ve always felt that one of the traits of inexpensive “people’s cars” is a minimum of idiot lights. I’d be driving my Beetle, with its single-gauge dashboard and a grand total of, oh maybe five lights – generator, oil, one double-headed turn arrow, high beams, and brake warning light – and then get in a friend’s car with a massive row of warning lights, telling you all kinds of stuff, like if your ashtray was over 50% full or your power steering belt was too supple. I figured that’s just modern, fancy car shit. And then I saw the instrument cluster of a Renault 4.
That up there is actually one of the later Renault 4Ls, from the late ’80s (that one up above is earlier, I just liked the dog), I think; earlier versions did have simpler instrument clusters. But then, once Renault decided that idiot lights were important, they went all out:
There’s 14 lights there! Fourteen! And that’s even with them pulling the same cheap-ass one arrow light for both turn indicators thing! Oh, shit, of we count the flashing triangle on the hazard light switch, that’s 15, but then we’d want to count it for the Beetle et al, too.
It’s interesting how that pic up top has all lights functional, but some of these show up to three blank lights. I guess the low fuel light, brake pad warning (?) and I think rear defroster were optional?
Regardless, I love the lavish gift of lights these R4s gave to their drivers, and I love the strange, weirdly rational yet illogical massive grid they used to arrange the lights on the dash. They look like a bunch of candy, or a screenshot from some candy-themed phone puzzle game. I hope there’s a button to test them all at once, because I’d be pushing that all the time, delighted every time.
I tried to guess all of them and it went pretty well, but I couldn’t figure out glowplugs? (row 1 right) as it with the choke light seems to be a gasoline car. And the radiation? (row 3 left) which can’t be brakes because it also has a brake warning light.
I really love the tank meter, where the symbols for empty, half and full, are stylized icons of the the needle showing empty, half and full! That is just so meta 😎
The top image is from an Express. Notice that it also goes all the way to 180km/h, while the ones in Quatrelles go to 160km/h.
The fuel gauge is also a slighlty different in the Renault 4, and it doesn’t have the “needle”.
The top picture is misleading, I think that one must actually be from a Renault 5. The Renault 4 never had all 14 lights. Three of those slots are just placeholders for various indicators in other models that used the same cluster (the Renault 5 and the Express). The actual Renault 4 cluster is the one in the fourth picture – you’ll notice that the owner’s manual doesn’t list any functions for those three slots. Also, the light that has the headlight pictogram doesn’t light up in the vast majority of Quatrelles. I thought mine was dead and when I went to change it there was no bulb at all, and the electrical connectors for that slot had nothing plugged in.
This has divided my local 4L community for years, because a few owners swear that their headlight dashboard indicator works and the car is bone-stock, and the manual does list it, but general consensus now is that they probably removed that option late in the process of facelifting the Renault 4. However, since the connectors are there, it’s not impossible to do an aftermarket mod and get it working. So maybe, just maybe, some dealerships could have installed this mod upon request for some special customers, but there’s some likelihood that that wasn’t supposed to light up in the first place. My mechanic, who owned five of them and was an official Renault mechanic back when they were still being sold new, swears that light was never an option in any model.
Actually that has to be from a diesel Express.
My favorite part of this instrument cluster is how, of all the values on the speedometer, 0 km/h has a range.
Maybe if you go in reverse, it goes below Zero lol
Haha, yes! More appreciation for the Renault 4’s brilliantly simple dashboard cluster!
I even made some art for it and sell it on my RedBubble shop (along with simple-but-awesome clusters from some other very cool classics! 🙂
https://www.redbubble.com/people/rallydarkstrike/explore if anybody wanted to check it out…hopefully it’s not bad form to link it here (if so, Autopian mods, please tell me and by all means take it down!)
Just thought it was amusingly coincidental as I’ve always appreciated it too, like Jason, hence my design for it! ^_^
love your Renault-themed designs 🙂 may I suggest one with just the Renault 4 shifter pattern? Or perhaps the shifter itself? Or both?
I wonder why the water temp gauge is separate and to the left of the main cluster? Was this a gauge only available on higher trims?
This gauge wasn’t available at all, but it’s always been a popular mod because the engines tend to overheat (especially the later GTL models). It’s very easy to install the temperature gauge, the block even comes with a free slot where you can bolt your temperature sensor.
I’m surprised the French put the warning lights in a logical place like the gauge cluster and not in a pod down by the ashtray.
That was more of a Porche 911 thing.
The blanks may have been there because they shared this with the R5? For me the interesting thing about these is that they all worked reliably, at least on my R5. That’s more than could be said for my contemporary Alfa.
Both the Renault 5 and the Express/Extra/Rapid used versions of this cluster. There’s even an empty slot for a temperature gauge that came in some versions of the Express, and I know a couple of owners who adapted that gauge into their Quatrelles.
Well, without reading the manual, let me see if I can decipher these lights, starting in the top left. Gas, turn signals, barbed wire, squid attack, missing contact lens, add worms to the bait box, fired bullet, solar radiation, ocean buoy, subway turnstile, Predator triangulation targeting system warning, elf shoe leak warning, pee emergency light, and winking robot face.
I can’t think of any car that needed to indicate both glow plugs and choke.
Were these indicators actually used together, or is this just another example of having enough indicators to cover every possible configuration?
It’s like those C8 Corvettes that are provisioned for diesel engines. You know…in case some enthusiast accidentally selects the wrong 6.2L when buying a crate engine.
Some early Volkswagen diesels had an enrichener/choke…maybe it’s the same here?
Not the R4… It was standard to have the same panel on gasoline and diesel cars at that time. Thus the choke and glow plug. But on a given car only one was actually cabled with a light behind.
One for the fuel gauge files (https://www.theautopian.com/theres-a-surprising-number-of-ways-to-mark-a-fuel-gauge-so-lets-pick-what-we-like-best/):
The fuel gauge in that particular dashboard is actually recursive, that is, the symbols match the position of the needle in the gauge. Kinda trippy.
They forgot the fresh baguette and imminent surrender warning lights.
Oh, geez, not that tired old trope about the French being surrender monkeys, never mind that it was actually the government (& the Church) that capitulated & that the French people had a strong and fierce underground resistance which many people, including Churchill, credited as being one of the most important and decisive factors in the Allied victory over Germany.
There’s a good chance the baddies would have won if it weren’t for the French people.
OK let’s play
Top row: low fuel, turn indicators, glow plugs on
2nd row: high beams, fog lights, rear defrost, low beams
3rd row: ?, water temp., ignition on?, hazard lights
4th row: fuel Guage, oil temp., parking brake, low battery
So that 3rd row 1st from left… what is this? Can’t be tire pressure warning can it?
Anyone know what the two guages are on the 3rd row?
3rd row: 1st is brake pads wear warning, 3rd is choke on
pretty sure the oil light on row 4 is for low oil pressure, not oil temp
edit: I’m also very confused by the glow plug light being there, seeing as there was no diesel version..
I’ve never heard of a car having a ‘brake pad low’ light, though if it is in the manual, when it comes on at least the owner could look that one up
Likewise about the choke, even though I have one ‘carburated’ car you know the choke is on bc there’s a old-school ‘choke handle’ on the dash, you pull it out to engage the choke & push it back in to ‘disengage’ (MG B GT)
Taken row by row :
The choke was of the pull ( to engage ) and push back in place ( to disengage ) type. Thus the light was important, as it reminded you that you had the choke on.
The one I’m not certain about might be related to the brakes… remember the 4L was not a disc brake car… But I’m not sure, as while all the other are pretty standard in all the French cars ( be it a Renault, a Citroën, a Peugeot, or any other brand lost in time ) of that time, that symbol reminds me of the TELMA ( electromagentic braking in coaches and semi trailers/trucks ) which is definitely not something ever installed in a 4L
There’s still room for two more warning lights. Missed opportunity.
1. Jolie femme et 2. boulangerie…
*Optional dashboard Bingo shown, your configuration may vary
As far as I’m aware neither the R5 of this era which shared this panel nor the R4 ever had a diesel so why is there a glow plug warning (top right)?
Good catch. I believe they are taking the panel from the Renault Express (small van version of the Super 5), which did have a diesel version.
Pretty cool. And the upholstery is pretty awesome, too.
This just proves that bad UI is not a new invention just for touchscreens.
Also a good throwback to the days when the makers of instruments proudly put their name on them. Note that in the heading pic the speedometer is Veglia but in the bottom one it’s Jaeger. Which of course doesn’t then match the excellent temperature gauge.
This is the deluxe version dashboard. I love how optimistic that speedometer is 180km/h. I believe the best version top speed was 120km/h
From my pov, all that’s missing is a shift point indicator track along the outside of the speedo.
Some old motorcycles (Hondas come to mind) would sometimes have this as sort of a faux tachometer, and I always loved the ingenuity of it.
I wonder if anyone ever rose to the challenge of getting all of those lights to come on and stay on.
On the R5, which had fewer lights (but still a whole bunch), when the oil pressure light came on — as it would under heavy braking unless the sump was full — all the red lights would come on. High beams and turn signals, being blue and green, stayed off.
At first I read this as “all went out,” but that would be a British car, wouldn’t it?
Thanks for the laugh.
Or a BMW.