Market Finds: Are You And Your Garage Ready For This Alpine A110 Group 4 Champion?

Are You And Your Garage Ready For This Alpine A110 Group 4 Champion?

By Andrew Golseth
April 22, 2016

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.

Vehicle information

Chassis no.: 18393
Body no.: 6746


Auction house: RM Sotheby’s
Estimate: €240,000 – €280,000 ($344,000 – $402,000)
Price realized: Auction on May 14


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7 years ago

Did I fall on my head and can’t think straight or is Petrolicious in dire need of a real editor?

“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…”

How is anything Alfa Romeo related even romotely relevant to RENAULT Alpine A110 is a mystery to me! Two completely different brands and manufacturers. What a blunder!!!!

7 years ago
Reply to  nis1973

Yeah, shortly after posting my comment I realized what was the point you were making. I could have very well fallen on my head (don’t remember!) but part of the reason I didn’t get your point right away is that, to me at least, the parallel you are making is rather far fetched. Without going in too much detail, I don’t think classic Alfa values have gotten any boost from yet another loudly announced revival plan (the really important stuff has been doing just fine for many years) and the Renault – Alpine relationship is qualitatively different from the Fiat – Alfa relatioship.

Regardless, the subject car is great! I have a lowly 1100cc A110 and if my garage space and wallet were a bit more generously sized, I would be going after this one. It’s a legendary model and a real works race car with good history for the price of a low mile Testarossa (whose history likely amounted to being driven (slowly) to and from the country club by yet another boring, overweight middle aged lawyer or banker).

Edward Levin
Edward Levin
7 years ago

“As if the standard A110 fiberglass bodies weren’t airy enough, …”

I don’t know if this one still retains its original bodywork, but works A110 had thinner fiberglass than the standard shells.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
7 years ago

Correction . Chassis #18393 won a few minor events , placing in a couple of World Championships .. not the Group 4 Championship ! Therefore it was never a Group 4 champion. There is a difference !

As for the ‘ new ‘ Alfa elevating the prices of classic Alfa’s I’d say thats a serious case of over stating the point . Fact is barely anyone’s even taking notice of Alfa’s so called ‘ return ‘ . Classic Alfa prices waxing because the entire classic car market has gone ballistic to its own demise .. bot because a bunch of FIAT’s Dodges and KTM’s with Alfa Romeo party dresses on are getting an undue and unwarranted amount of press these days .. due to a few lire/Euros exchanging hands under the table … 😉

Oh … and by the way in case ya’ll haven’t noticed … Alpine A110’s prices have been escalating to the moon over the last decade or so …. so if’n y’alls looking for a bargain or an investment here … y’alls about five to ten years too late .The A110’s prices are already overinflated . And don’t hold yer breath for the CaterPine to make its way here either … Alfa’s dismal sales in the US along with Lotus’s have already put paid to that vain hope