I was extremely pleased to read John Davenport’s reminiscences of the Renault Alpine’s rally exploits in your February issue. Accounts of personal experiences of the A110 Berlinette are seldom available in English and make a significant contribution to our appreciation and understanding of these rare and charismatic cars — and the small Dieppoise team that achieved so much.
As Davenport remarks, it must have been absolutely magical sitting on the line at the start of a stage in 1972 listening to the engine gulping great draughts of air through the pair of twin-choke 45DCOE Webers, not Dellorto, carbs.
The A110 Berlinette provides a very live and involving experience with its rear-mounted engine separated from the passenger compartment by a thin fibreglass panel ; the works lightweight shells truly were light, tipping the scales at around 50kg, half the weight of the Group 3 shell.
The early A110 Berlinette Tour de France had a basic homologated weight of 565kg for its 70hp rather than the 650kg quoted in the article. That was actually the homologated weight of the later 1970 138bhp 1600S.
The 650kg 138bhp 1600S was homologated into Gp4 on January 1, 1970, and into Gp3 on October 1, 1970; a 1596cc 172bhp Gp4 variant was introduced in 71.
In 1972, Jacques Cheinisse had Marc Mignotet prepare a 200bhp turbocharged 1600cc engine for Jean-Luc Therier to compete on the Criterium des Cevennes — the first time that a turbocharged engine was used in competition.
The 1600S model with a 1605cc engine was actually not homologated for Gp 3 until July 1, 1972, and that placed the cars in the up-to-2000cc class. This enabled Alpine to increase the Berlinette’s engine capacity for competition. As a consequence of this, a 180bhp-plus 1800cc unit was developed by Mignotet.
I am, Yours etc, Tim Moores, A110 Registrar, Club Alpine Renault, Hampshire