By Ronan Glon
Sunday, Sep 15th, 2013 @ 11:03 am
 
A 69-year old priest from northern Italy has given Pope Francis a 1984 Renault 4 hatchback with about 300,000 kilometers (roughly 186,000 miles) on the clock to use on Vatican grounds. The car was delivered to its new home last week, and the Pope reportedly grabbed the keys and took the car for a spin immediately.

The news comes after the 76-year old Pope urged priests worldwide to drive cheap, humble cars and donate the money they save to charity. A spokesperson indicated the Pope will drive the 4 himself when running errands around the Vatican grounds, but his official car on trips worldwide will remain an armored and heavily modified Mercedes-Benz M-Class (generally known as the Popemobile) for evident security reasons.

The plastic cladding on the lower portion of the 4's doors and the air vent above the front bumper - partially covered by the license plate - indicate the Pope is putting around the Vatican in a GTL model. GTLs are equipped with a larger 1.1-liter water-cooled four-cylinder engine that sends 34 horsepower and 54 lb-ft. of torque to the front wheels via a four-speed manual transmission. Changing gears is done with a dash-mounted shifter whose linkage goes through the firewall, over the engine and down into the transmission.

Inside, the 4 reflects the Pope's call for more humble cars: The seats are upholstered with a combination of cloth and vinyl, the windows slide vertically rather than roll down and features such as air conditioning, soft-touch plastics, power locks and power steering are nowhere to be found.

Renault's People's Car
The 4 was launched at the 1961 Paris Motor Show and phased out in 1993 due to looming European emissions and safety regulations that made carburetors and dash-mounted shifters obsolete. Offered as a five-door hatchback, a convertible and a van with two wheelbase lengths, it changed little during its long production run and over eight million examples were sold in numerous countries around the world.