Are You And Your Garage Ready For This Alpine A110 Group 4 Champion?
Photography Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
As promising as the new Alpine Vision concept looks, we’d obviously prefer an original—we are on Petrolicious, after all. Don’t get us wrong, we’re stoked for the potential resurrection of the A110’s spirit, but it won’t be the same. No matter how hard automakers attempt to recreate classic cars with modern ingredients, it’s never the same dish.
If the new Alpine comes to fruition, I’m sure it’ll be good. Compared to its grandfather, it’ll be faster, more comfortable, probably more reliable, and undoubtedly safer. What it will never have is a pedigree equal to its trailblazing forebears, one of which is this 1974 Alpine Renault A110 1800 Group 4 Works rally car.
As if the standard A110 fiberglass bodies weren’t airy enough, the Alpine works set about tediously removing every additional kilo possible—even the bumpers and trim pieces were constructed from plastic! The widened track called for bubbled arches and the chassis received additional structural reinforcements for rigidness. To avoid inhaling debris, the front intake channel was raised while wider wheels and bigger brakes ensured greater grip and halting power. An aviation fuel cell was centrally mounted for optimal weight distribution, and the snout was equipped with an oil cooler to keep things temperate.
Chassis 18393 was one of the last racing cars completed at the Dieppe plant and began life registered to SA Alpine—notice the car wearing its original number plates. Within weeks of birth, this then 1,860 cc powered A110 sailed its maiden voyage with driver Jean-Pierre Nicolas and navigator Vincent Laverne at the Tour de Corse—the 1974 WRC season’s final event.
The Nicolas-Laverne duo gained position quickly and by the end of Stage Three of Section One, they were over a minute ahead of the competition. Unfortunately, Lancia Stratos driver Jean-Claude Andruet closed the gap by the end of Section Two, winning his third Tour de Corse. Still, because of Nicolas and Laverne’s persistent speed, they earned second overall—not bad for the car’s first outing.
At the 1975 Rallye Monte-Carlo, Nicholas and Laverne won four snow stages, maintaining second until a crash on Special Stage 12. The 23-stage, 530-kilometer Rallye Monte-Carlo unforgivingly demolished cars, one-by-one, until just 30 of the 96 entrants finished: #18393 wasn’t one of them.
While being repaired, Alpine opted to give chassis 18393 a “new” heart. Leftover from the Jean-Luc Thérier 1973 Rallye Sanremo win, the special 1,796 cc dual Weber carbureted four-cylinder was transplanted over in preparation for the ’75 Criterium Lucien Bianchi. With wheelman Maurice Mercier and guide master Michele Grandgagnage, the car yielded a 4th in class finish.
Shortly after, the Alpine finished second overall at the Mont Blanc Rally with French National Rally Champion Michel Alibelli behind the wheel. With Jean-Pierre Nicolas and Vincent Laverne back for vengeance, they proved victorious at the Criterium Alpin, finally beating Jean-Claude Andruet to gold.
After decommissioned from official Alpine Works racing, the A110 was sold to a privateer team who maintained and raced the car occasionally before selling to Jacques Metteval in 1981. Jacques sent the car to the Alpine Centre for restoration. Before the car was finished, the car was then purchased by a Japanese enthusiast. In 2010, the car finally completed restoration in its ’74 Corse livery. Best of all, it still features the multi-chassis-winning 1,796 cc engine.
With Alfa Romeo returning to its sports car roots (and to the North American market), its vintage metal has surged in value. If we’re lucky enough to see the rebirth of Alpine, buying this A110 Group 4 racer could be a sound investment. If not, worst case scenario: you’ll have to enjoy driving it…
– Factory-prepared “Usine” Group 4 competition example
– One of only nine Works cars driven in the 1974 season
– 2nd Overall in the 1974 Tour de Corse
– Includes report by Alpine-Renault historian Gilles Vallerian
~175 horsepower, 1,796 cc OHC inline four-cylinder engine with dual Weber carburetors, five-speed manual transmission, front and rear independent suspension, and four-wheel ventilated disc brakes. Wheelbase: 2,271 mm.
Chassis no.: 18393
Body no.: 6746