What is the reason why generalist brands like FIAT and Renault acquired small companies like Abarth, Gordini and Alpine? To find an answer to this question, many will think about the excitement of racing. In the love of competition. Or even in the simple joy of doing something daring for the mere joy of doing it. However, both FIAT and Renault are brands focused on series production. Complex business structures where nothing is left to chance, maximizing investment to achieve the best possible economic result.
An area where everything emotional or irrational a priori only exists as long as it contributes to large-scale manufacturing and mass sale. Parameters opposite to those defined by small sports trainers such as Abarth, Gordini and Alpine. So how is it possible that they all got absorbed between 1969 and 1973? Well, precisely because, although it sounds paradoxical, its activity is a perfect complement to any generalist brand. Something that summed up very well Jean Rédélé -founder of Alpine- when he sentenced “Racing is the best way to test production cars. And rallies are the best to sell ”.
A thought where two issues are evident. The first is that the technological potential of a small racing team pushes each car to its limits, thus being perfect design agents for improving future series products. The second is that the effort invested in winning the races reverts to improving sales. Giving a prestigious image to brands that, otherwise, would only be seen as factories of simple family utility vehicles. Segment in the antipodes of Group 5. FIA homologation where one of the rarer A110 derivatives ended up.
The 110 Alpine A1974B with Gordini engine. The product of uniting the capacity of two small sports brands already acquired by the giant Renault.
ALPINE-GORDINI A110B. EQUIPPED WITH 807 G-4 ENGINE
That the Alpine A110 is one of the great legends of rallying is something known to all. However, the truth is that from 1973 there are some versions as spectacular as they are rare. Without a doubt, one of them is this one with a Gordini engine, which is built under the direction of Renault. Owner of the entire shareholding of Alpine since that same year, thus being able to coordinate efforts with Gordini after having bought it four years earlier. A synergy from which the Alpine-Gordini A110B came out.
Something a priori not so strange, since since 1965 there had been unions between both brands. Made synthesized in the A110 100 and 1300. Both with engines from the R8 powered by Gordini. However, what happened with the Alpine Gordini A110B was to go one step further. Given that Its 807 G-4 engine does not come from a street model, but directly from Renault's racing department. Which, under the line marked by Gordini specialists, had been developing this engine since the early seventies to apply it to Formula Renault and rally units of the R17.
A 1774cc four cylinder engine capable of delivering more than 200CV at 7500 rpm with a compression ratio of 11 to 8. All this powered and lubricated in one way or another depending on whether it was intended for a rally or circuit model. Thus, the asphalt mounted injection and dry sump. While the rally cars were equipped with two double-bodied Weber carburettors and four-liter wet sump. A careful mechanical design forged in aluminum and topped with a double overhead camshaft of which it is believed only about 20 copies were made.
MODIFIED CHASSIS AND VERY SHORT DRAFT
When the A1973 won the World Rally Championship in 110 by showing off as the top three positions at Monte Carlo it was clear that Renault had to take full control of Alpine. In addition, by that time the complex mechanical genealogy of the A110 was enlarged with the appearance of the 1800 versions. Made with the aim of withstanding the onslaught of the Lancia Stratos, which finally took the lead in international rally events. In addition, in this resistance put by Alpine modifications were made to the chassis.
This is how the A110Bs were born, which improved the tubular substructure to which a double wishbone rear suspension was anchored. A version produced in very small series, since according to the sources only four to ten copies were manufactured. All of them destined to the world of competition and equipped mainly with the 844-12 engine that gave 124CV in the A110 and A310 where it was mounted. However, according to sources close to Renault, it decided to make a final evolution of the A110 with its sights set on the 1975 Tour de France Automobile.
Thus, the car would be homologated in Group 5. For this, Renault itself completed a unit for the pilot Bruno Saby. Unique A110 with Gordini 807 G-4 engine until the arrival of this one that you are seeing modified by the Belgian Vialle team in their attempt to compete in the European Rallycross championships. A story that began in 1976, when the engineer Thom Meijlink acquired this Alpine A110B chassis 20377 to incorporate an 807 G-4 engine in the manner of the Renault Group 5.
A delicate intervention, responsible for creating one of the only two Alpine-Gordini A110Bs with an 807 G-4 engine of which there is evidence today. A copy for lovers of Alpine history, which It is for sale at the British dealer William i'anson ltd.
Photographs: William i'anson ltd / Renault