The Renault Alpine A110

Someone bought an Alpine A110 race car from a guy in England and imported it to NZ. This car is a beauty. At the start of its 1st Targa Rally I stood at this car with my jaw hanging open. I think it is one of the most impressive cars I've ever seen. Unfortunately it only made it to the first Special Stage where it overheated and blew a gasket. The 2nd year I got myself involved by joining the service crew for this car. The motor was rebuilt by a Race engine builder but again it only lasted until the morning of the 2nd day when it ran bearings. We rented a car trailer and went back to this engineering works and helped them put a standard 16TS engine together and got the car back on the road the next morning after an all-nighter. The car finished the Rally but wasn't recognized because of the 5 or 6 stages that we missed. It wasn't competitive either because of the stock motor it was running.

The owner contacted me and asked me if I would build him an engine for the next year's Targa. Not knowing if this was an honour or opportunity I accepted the offer. This outfit is much more professional than I was used to. There is the car preparer, Brett, the engine builder, myself, and auto electrician etc.

The engine was delivered to my house and I started stripping the motor. I noticed many faults as time went on and was quite disappointed with what I came across. With all my tricks applied to this engine it was collected and went down to the engine dyno. When fitted I was called in to check for oil pressure, set timing and start the engine. It was instantly taken up to 4000rpm to work harden the new surface on the cut camshaft and left there for about 30 minutes, then 5000rpm for another 20 minutes and then 6000rpm for another 20minutes. The engine was now run in. Then we started with power runs to get the tuning right. Eventually it ended up at 175hp at the flywheel. I was happy with this figure because it is now 1800cc and the hp is just under 100hp/liter. A good figure for a 8 valve pushrod motor.

The 3rd Targa was started and the again the engine failed on day 5 when a valve head broke and destroyed the piston.

The 4th Targa was entered with all 8 valves replaced and the car ran faultless with the service crew almost bored.

The following Targa I calculated the lengths for a new exhaust and that was made up and installed. With more tuning the best result turned out to 190hp. I was really happy with that figure which was about 5hp better than the factory engines. However, that is 38 years later and technology has improved since then. The car ran faultlessly again and we got a 2nd in class and a 2nd on Index of Performance. The winner being a 5000cc Holden Torana. This was the Australian equivalent to our Chev Canam. Classes go by age and not engine sizes. I don't agree but that is how it is.

Last year another faultless run with 2nd in Index again but unfortunately the car had an off and more than 30 minutes was lost and couldn't be made up.

I drove the car on our local international race track and it has indeed long legs. Down the main straight I managed to get 7200 rpm in 4th before the brake markers appeared and the speed recorded on the calibrated rally trip meter was 207 kmh. If there were more road and 5th gear is selected I wonder what speed would have been achieved.