Here’s What Made The Alpine A110 So Dominant In Rallying!!

When people think of the sport of Rallying, there’s a lot of cars that come to mind pretty much straight away. Think of the Audi Quattro S1 or even the Grp. A Escort Cosworth for instance and you have a very good line up of successful rally cars coming to mind. With a lot of people reminiscing over Group B and also Group A, it’s fair to say that there are a few fairly forgotten rally cars around the place and one of them is the original Alpine A110.

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If you go back about 20 years before the birth of Group B and it’s craziness, the sport of Rallying was very different. For a start, the power levels were way more manageable, the teams were smaller and the cars were pretty much along the lines of ‘Race on Sunday, Buy on Monday’. Cars included were the original Mini Cooper ‘S’, the MK1 Escort Mexico’s as well as the Lancia Fulvia. Mixed in with those beautiful lot was the Alpine A110.

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So what was so special about the Alpine then? Well for a start it was incredibly lightweight, weighing in at a lowly 706kg it was a good bit lighter than the Fulvia and the Escort MK1. Add in the small tuned Renault & Lotus-powered engines powering it, it was a force to be reckoned with. The best part though was its engine layout, even though the engines were small, they were hanging right over the back wheels in an RR (Rear Engined, Rear-Wheel-Drive) setup and this made it an absolute hoot to drive as well as very nippy through corners. due to the low weight over the front end, turn-in was crisp and due to the small size, it was unbelievably agile.

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Power was also one of its good points as well, starting with a lowly 55bhp from the start, this was soon upped to 140bhp in later models which made it quick as well. You have to remember that while 140bhp may not sound like much these days, in the ’60s & ’70s rallying scene this was rather good, in comparison, a Mini Cooper ‘S’ from the same period only had about 70bhp. Add in the lightness and that amount of power made it a rocket.

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While on the subject of lightness, the Alpine was made entirely of fiberglass while the chassis was a steel backbone affair. This was unseen on a rally car before simply due to the cost of materials. Compared to the rest of the competition that mainly used steel construction and steel bodies, the A110 was exotic in a way even though its underpinnings were from Renaults.

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While aerodynamics isn’t exactly the be-all and end-all of rallying, you do need aerodynamics to a certain extent for the faster courses and this was where the A110 came into its own. unlike its rivals, the alpine was a properly curvy coupé with a teardrop-like design to it and this made it significantly more aerodynamic than anything at the time.

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With a car as advanced as the Alpine was at the time, it was no surprise that it dominated the rally scene for a good significant amount of years, in fact in 1973 alone it won 6 rallies including the treacherous and difficult Monaco Rallye. the only car to come close was the humble Mini Cooper ‘S’. It was the first-ever car to win the World Rally Championship in 1973 making the Alpine Works Team the first-ever World Rally Champions. During the early 70’s nothing could touch the Alpine for dust. in fact it took it’s rivals a good few years to come out with something as successful.

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With the original Alpine being so good at what it did and being loved the world over in the process, Renault decided to bring back the Alpine name in 2017 and go about creating a new-age car to hark back to the original. In late 2017 the new A110 was revealed and quickly afterwards put into production where it got a reputation for being a very good left-field rival to the likes of the Alfa Romeo 4C and the Porsche Cayman 718.

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Even though the new car harks back to the original, everything has been modified and dialled in to make it as competitive as possible. Powering it is a 1.8T 4-cylinder unit with 4-valves per cylinder created by Renault-Nissan and then tuned by Alpine themselves to create a power output of 250bhp and 320nm of torque, this means it can do the 0-60 dash in a very respectable 4.5 seconds and with thanks to a 7-speed DCT it can go onto a top speed of 155mph limited.

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In October of 2017, the new A110 cup was released and this was the return to racing for Alpine, unveiled as a track-only variant of the car it shares the same chassis as the road car but modified so it can include a roll cage, adjustable suspension and race brakes. On top of that, power was upped to 270bhp and the gearbox was replaced with a bespoke racing sequential gearbox and also new Michelin racing tires were fitted as well. Prices for the Cup variant started at €100,000 each.

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In 2018, Alpine came back and released the GT4 version of the Alpine Cup, power is upped again and now the car has benefitted from added aerodynamics which includes an aggressive front splitter and large rear wing. customers of the already existing Cup could go to Alpine and get their cars upgraded to GT4 spec for a small fee if so wanted. Testing for the GT4 began in late 2018 so people could get used to the car before the 2019 season began, this gave both the drivers & the teams associated time to dial the car in for competitive use.

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With the original Alpine A110 being nearly 60 years old, it is now wonder that in that time it has gained many a fan in both the rallying scene, the classic car scene and now with the modern variant, the sports car scene. Motorsport has always been in Alpines blood and with the Alpine A110, it cemented them as a very serious contender to larger rivals and with many a rally win under its belt, it has been able to hold its own and is now officially up there with the best.

 

Hope You Enjoy!

By Alex Jebson

How ProjectC70 Saved My Life And Why I Simply Couldn’t Sell It!!

As some of you out there may know, I own a Volvo C70 Coupé known as ProjectC70. for those that don’t, in March 2015 I bought said Volvo as my first car for a measly £1200. Out of those 4½ years of ownership, a good 3½ years have been as a long-going project car, hence the name ProjectC70. A lot of people know about my car and the changes it’s had but one thing I have never said about it was how it ultimately saved my life from a truly horrible bout of Epilepsy.

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Now before we get onto the car, I want to start from the very beginning. From a very young age, I have had health issues. From the age of 1½, I have had Kidney issues that meant for a majority of my life and even up to now, I was always having checkups at hospitals and for a good 14 years, I was also on a high-calorie milk feed to make up for the lack of food I was able to process. Since 15 years of age, this was pretty much my life and I was used to it. I was told what I could & couldn’t do and kept at life proving doctor after doctor wrong. By the time I was 15 I was lucky enough to have my last ever operation regarding my kidneys and this entailed me not needing to be on a high-calorie milk feed every night.

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After that, everything was perfect, I was able to live life as normal for pretty much the first time in my life and I was so elated. I was so new to it that it felt strange to just do things that everyone else took for granted. It was going well and I was enjoying life, I was able to leave school at 16 & take up college doing the Mechanics course I loved. This was until April 2014 came around. This was when the worst thing to ever happen to anyone happened to me, this was my first seizure.

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It was a normal college day and everything went normally, maybe a bit tired and stressed to some account but nothing out of the ordinary for a typical college student. I remember coming home and going to sleep for about an hour or so and by this time, this was a relatively normal thing for me to do. After waking up from my small nap that’s when everything got threw up in the air. I was shouted for my dinner and withing 5 minutes of waking up, I experienced my first ever seizure at the dining table in our house.

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While I don’t remember a lot of what exactly happened, I remember getting sent to the hospital to find out what the hell had happened. After originally thinking it was a heart murmur, they soon took a brain scan and that was where they found out I possibly had Epilepsy. It was only until the second fit about a month later that they actually officially diagnosed it as Epilepsy. This is where something inside me just started to click, this was when I decided to fight the long difficult battle.

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When in the hospital, I was told that the kind of seizures that I’d had were known as ‘Tonic-Clonic’ fits, the worst kind of epilepsy you can have. What that means, in short, is that when a seizure hits me, I go unconscious and start to convulse all my muscles. While they last for maybe a few minutes, the recovery is by far the worst. The headaches are futile and the pain in my joints is even worse, for me, it takes a good few weeks to actually get back to full health. For the first few hours, all I want to do is sleep.

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As I said, with the news of this coming as a shock to all of us, I decided to fight it the best way I could and that was to buy a car, this is when the fight within me started. From August of 2014, I saved as much money as I possibly could to buy my very own C70 and I wasn’t going to give up without a fight and on March 6th the following year, ProjectC70 came into my life.

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When the car came along I was elated once more. It was everything I’d ever wanted in life and to a young 17-18-year-old, I never realized that it’d be possible for someone in my situation would be able to have this happen so soon after my recovery. Even from the start of C70 ownership, I knew that there was a different feeling inside me about this car, it wasn’t just a box on wheels, it was my shield from my horrible brain injury.

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Even though I was elated, I knew that I had to try my hardest to keep my fits at bay and try as I might, I did just that for over a year and a half but in October 2016 they came back with a vengeance. Instead of having one fit one day then another maybe a few weeks later, this time I had two fits in the same night one after the other. With that happening, I was back to the beginning again.

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No fear though, I had my beloved C70 outside to get me through it all and regardless of what I had to personally go through, as long as my C70 was there I was prepared to fight with all the might I could muster. This is when I started to fix the C70 up and when it started to become a project car of the highest proportions. With ProjectC70 sitting outside in desperate need of work and me being at a bad point health-wise, I felt as if I could take on the world one bolt at a time.

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When working on the car, regardless of how I might have been both mentally & physically, It never once phased me that I had this condition that could rear its head at literally any moment without any real signs. When working on the car, it was just me at that moment fixing something I loved, for those few hours I was normal.

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All in all, I’ve probably had over 10 fits in the 5½ years I’ve had epilepsy and throughout it all, the C70 has been there by my side as my reason to fight the condition. It must’ve worked as I’ve not had a fit for well over a year now and to add to that, slowly but surely the C70 is also taking shape as well and for that, I couldn’t be happier.

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Many people think that cars are just a piece of metal on wheels with no real purpose but to get us humans from point A to point B but for me and many others, certainly for those who are in really bad situation health-wise, cars are so much more than that. Recently I have been told to get rid of the C70 for something else but with everything I’ve gone through with it, I could simply never sell it.

 

By Alex Jebson