Designed in secrecy by French engineers during the Nazi occupation of France, the Renault CV4 first started rolling off the assembly line in 1947. Development of the small car began in 1940 when Louis Renault directed his team to “make him a car like the Germans.” Renault, an alleged Nazi collaborator, was referring to the Volkswagen. What came to market earned the nickname, “La motte de beurre” (the lump of butter). Like the Beetle, the name came from its looks and the fact most of the early models featured a pale yellow paint job.
Production of the vehicle began with a rear mounted 760cc engine that connected to a three speed manual transmission. By 1950 sales of the car reached upwards of 40,000 units, no small feat for such a small car. Like its VW influence, the car would remain relatively unchanged throughout its life. By the time production ended on this day in 1961, 1,105,543 had rolled off the assembly line. This marked the first time a French car sold more than one million units.