Alpine founder Jean Rédélé was very keen to ensure his cars enjoyed great success in competition, with the A110 being the most iconic model they would produce. As all A110 bodies were constructed of fibreglass, they were fantastically light competition cars. Furthermore, the Works cars received an even lighter body, and standard trim items were replaced with plastic components such as the faux bumpers, front and rear. Additional improvements for the Works cars included a reinforced front chassis along with underbody protection. Even the air intake was moved to avoid snow or mud accumulations. Finally, a centrally mounted aviation fuel tank, larger brakes and wheels, front-mounted oil cooler, and larger oil filter completed the factory upgrades. These modifications led to the car enjoying great success around the world, culminating in the 1973 FIA World Rally Championship.
Chassis number 18393, offered here, was first registered to SA Alpine, Dieppe, in France on 21 October 1974 and assigned the registration number 3812 HV 76. It is also interesting to note that after this car, only four more competition cars were assembled at the famed Dieppe factory.
This car competed in its first event only weeks later, at the Tour de Corse, with Jean-Pierre Nicolas driving and Vincent Laverne as his navigator. At the time, it was fitted with a Mignotet 1,860-cubic centimetre engine. Nicolas was a very successful French driver who, over his career, won five WRC events, most notably the 1978 Rallye Monte-Carlo in a Porsche 911. The Tour de Corse was the final round of the 1974 WRC season and ran over 1,292 kilometres, with 375 of them held over 14 special stages. Alpine-Renault was the most represented manufacturer, with 29 cars at the start, six of which were Works entries.
After the first stage, Nicolas was leading overall. The great start continued into Stage Two, with Nicolas consolidating his position with over a 30-second advantage. Stage Three was held at the Col de Vergio, and again Nicolas was the fastest, this time on studded ice tyres. At the end of the first section, Nicolas was leading overall by an impressive one minute and six seconds. At this point, only 43 of the 101 teams remained.
Section two, and the race resumed at 2:00 a.m. … in the rain. Nicolas struggled in the deplorable conditions, and his lead shrunk to only 22 seconds over Andruet in a Lancia Stratos HF. Unfortunately, Andruet was unstoppable and continued to gain, eventually assuming the lead. Despite Nicolas gaining time on several of the remaining stages, the gap was too large and Andruet would take his third Tour de Corse victory. However, after winning five special stages, Nicolas and chassis 18393 were safe in 2nd overall, finishing over 19 minutes ahead of Jean-Luc Thérier, in a sister Alpine A310, in 3rd.
The second outing for chassis number 18393 was the 1975 Rallye Monte-Carlo, which had grown to 23 stages and over 530 competitive kilometres. With 96 starters and only 30 finishers, it was clear that this event was one of the most demanding on the WRC calendar. Unfortunately, Nicolas and Laverne would retire on Special Stage 12, Col de Pontis. Before retiring, however, the pair did win four special stages in the snow around Ardèche and were running 2nd overall prior to retiring.
The Alpine factory then chose to change the engine to the 1,796-cubic centimetre unit used by Jean-Luc Thérier to win the 1973 Rallye Sanremo. With this special engine fitted, it was leased to privateer Maurice Mercier and would next appear at the Criterium Lucien Bianchi in May 1975. Mercier called upon his friend and co-driver, Michele Grandgagnage, to navigate the event. The pair finished a very credible 4th in class. A few weeks later, chassis number 18393 was out again, this time at the Mont Blanc Rally, piloted by Savoy driver Michel Alibelli, the 1972 French National Rally Champion. He drove sensationally and brought the Alpine-Renault home in 2nd overall.
Next up was the Criterium Alpin, which was held over 7 and 8 June and featured Jean-Pierre Nicolas and Vincent Laverne in the Alpine, now fitted with a Mignotet 1,796-cubic centimetre engine. Nicolas drove fantastically against great competitors such as Andruet, Darniche, and Henry, leading chassis number 18393 to a superb victory.
Meanwhile, Alpine race director Jacques Cheinisse saw great potential in a young Parisian driver, Francis Vincent, and lent him chassis number 18393 for the famous Ronde Cévenole. Unfortunately, Vincent suffered two punctures along with gearbox problems and was forced to retire. The next event was the 1975 Rallye d’Antibes, where it was piloted by Jacques Henry and Maurice Gélin. Henry was leading the event before retiring.
In October 1975, the Alpine was sold to a company called Adema in the Côte d’Or and registered 4757 QM 21. The car was maintained but never entered in competition. It was then sold to Jacques Metteval in 1981. He then delivered the car for restoration to the Alpine Centre in Boulogne-Billancourt. In 1993, in unfinished condition, the car was sold to a Mr Ikouta in Japan.
In 2008, the car was offered for sale and then, in 2010, returned to Europe, where it was recently restored to its 1974 Tour de Corse livery. Now completed, the A110 retains many of its original factory features and is currently fitted with a 1,796-cubic centimetre engine.
Beautifully finished throughout, this would be an undoubtedly exciting and historic entrant for the Monte-Carlo Historique, Tour Auto, Modena Cento Ore, and numerous other historic rally events.
This 1974 Alpine-Renault A110 1800 Group 4 Works will be offered at the RM Sotheby’s Monaco sale, scheduled for May 14, 2016 at Le Sporting in Monaco.
Factory-prepared “Usine” Group 4 competition example
One of nine Works cars driven in the 1974 season
Second Overall in the 1974 Tour de Corse; 1975 Rallye Monte-Carlo participant
Driven by such greats as Jean-Pierre Nicolas and Jacques Henry
Eligible for historic rally events, including Tour Auto
Includes report by Alpine-Renault historian Gilles Vallerian