RENAULT - 3 LIEBENBERG GENERATIONS OF PASSION

Father

It all started way back in 1965 when Clive bought his first Renault R8 1100, a red one. He was proud of this "Red Devil" but, he always wanted a Renault R8 Gordini. Sadly, this was something iust out of his reach so he settled for a Renault R8 Alconi instead. The years passed and the family grew and the Alconi had to go BUT that passion to own a Renault R8 Gordini still lingered.

ln his later years he bought a Renault R10 then a newer Renault Laguna. So slowly his collection of various Renault models grew, all in various forms of restoration.....from a Renault 4CV to a Renault 15TS and yes, somewhere in between, he did get his Renault R8 Gordini even though he waited near on 50 years for it.

Son

Then, Rikki, his son, shows an interest in dad's "babies". Working side by side with dad, restoring these old beauties and taking them to various motor shows. ln his own collection he has a Renault Dauphine Gordini, Renault RtO and a 2013 Renault Twingo Gordini which is in daily use.

Grandson

Along comes Reece, the grandson at age 14, and he has also caught this Renault passion. The Renault Twingo Gordini will be passed on to him when he turns 18. Now between the 3 Liebenberg Generations there are currently 7 various Renault models between them. The oldest, 1952 4CV and the newest, a Renault Gordini Twingo... will there be more? Only time will tell...

ALPINE SOLD AT AUCTION:

A rare Alpine 110 1600S was sold for R1.4-million at an auction in SA

Midrand - A rare Alpine and a unique South African built rally car were part of a selection of delectable collector's cars that went under the hammer on April 2 2016, part of the first classic car auction by WH Auctioneers in Midrand, Gauteng.

The auction was headlined by a 1971 Alpine Renault A110 1600 S. This beautiful car, a VB version with chassis number 331, is one of an estimated 1800 VB's built in Alpine's Dieppe factory in France from 1968 to 1973.

With Renault set to revive the Alpine name in 2017, with the introduction of a new mid-engine sports car, reminiscent of the A110, interest in original A110s have peaked.

WH Auctioneers confirmed that the Alpine sold for a staggering R1 485 000.

Alpine history

Alpine was founded by Jean Rédélé in 1955 when he started building modified and lighter Renaults for motor racing purposes. The A106 used Renault 4CV running gear in a lightweight glass-fibre body and the A108 used Dauphine power.

The A110 initially used Renault 8 running gear and was extensively used for racing. It has much success as a World Rally Championship car and is famous for making a clean sweep of the Monte Carlo rally in 1971 and '73.

Of the 7500 built, over half were entry-level V85's with Renault 12 engines, but the early swing-axle 1600 S models powered by the free-revving 105kW 1440cc 8 Gordini engine are the most sought after.

While they were also built in Spain, and under licence in Bulgaria, Brazil, Mexico and South America, the Dieppe-built cars command a premium.

Up to R1.8 million…

The vehicle on auction was originally delivered to Angola to a Mr Germanis, who then moved to Zimbabwe, and later to South Africa.

Racing stalwart Brian Evans managed to purchase the car from Germanis in Cape Town, and thereafter it was sold to motoring journalist Dawie van Jaarsveld, who sold it to the current owner approximately nine years ago.

The car does not have current Natis documents, but as far as could be ascertain it is highly original, with matching numbers for the engine and gearbox. The car's suspension, engine and gearbox have all had extensive work to maintain it as a reliable track car, whilst at the same time keeping the patina as one can expect from a car such as this. Sporting a half roll cage and period correct livery, the car is presented in original Alpine blue with correct 13" rims.

According to auctioneer Alan Hogg, top original 1600S VB examples such as this one regularly fetches between £70 000 and £80 000 (between R1.6- million and R1.8 million).

As jy van skaars wiele praat, moet jy vandag 'n regterstuur ­Alpine soek. Slegs 75 weergawes van die laaste reeks Alpine A610's is destyds ge­bou, en daar is vandag nog net een van hulle in Suid­-Afrika.

Leon Erasmus was die eerste Suid-­Afrikaner wat die voorreg ge­had het om hierdie stukkie Franse meesterskap te besit.

Die motor het 'n interessante ge­skiedenis, vertel Erasmus.

“Ek het die motor destyds by 'n handelaar in die Kaap sien staan. Dit was glo 'n Brit se ryding wat hy hier agtergelaat het voordat hy te­rug is Engeland toe.

“Hy het hier met die motor kom rondry toe hy skielik siek geword het en gehospitaliseer moes word. Om sy aansienlike rekening te kon delg, moes hy sy motor aan die motorhandelaar verkoop.

“Dit is toe waar ek die Alpine sien staan het. Ek het self 'n Re­nault gery en was dus geïnteres­seerd.

“Ons het onderhandel, en toe koop ek die Alpine by die hande­laar.”

Die rooi Alpine was oorspronklik groen toe hy nog in Brittanje was.

Die eerste eienaar het hom egter rooi gespuitverf voordat hy hom na Suid-­Afrika gebring het.

“Dit was 'n bulletjie, hoor,” vertel Erasmus.

“Dit was nog die beginjare van turbotegnologie. As jy jou voet neersit, is daar eers net niks. En dan, skielik, bars al die perde net los en slaan hy jou met mening. Dan moet jy jou storie ken.

“Onthou ook, die brandstoftenk het voor gesit, en die bakpanele was net van glasvesel. As jy dus in 'n botsing was...

“Dit was een van die redes waarom ek hom later verkoop het. Ek het met hom gespeel, maar hy kon jou byt as jy nie wakker is nie.

“Toe verkoop ek hom aan 'n Re­nault­fanatikus in Gauteng.

“Dit was 'n 1990-­model, met 'n vyfgang­handratkas. Daardie groot vensters was mooi, maar dit kon hom warm laat word het in die so­mer.

“Jy het lekker gesit in die Alpine, maar pakplek was min, net so 'n holte voor in die neus, langs die noodwiel.

“Maar 'n lekker vuurwa, daardie Alpine.”

Te midde van 'n Duitse en 'n Japanse aanslag van sportmotors in die 1990's het Renault 'n vurige ryding gehad. Marnus Hattingh vertel meer.

Toe Carlos Ghosn, die grootbaas van Renault, vroeër vanjaar tydens die Monte Carlo-tydren aankondig dat die groep sy Alpine-naam wil laat herleef, het ons dadelik aan die enigmatiese A610 gedink.

In die vroeë 1990's was dié plat vuurwa die Pôrs-vreter van die Franse. Behalwe dat al twee kinders van dieselfde era was – die toetrede van turbo's en daardie groot glasvensters agter – het die Alpine A610 jong Europeërs die kans gebied om 'n Porsche by die verkeerslig aan te vat en straks te wen.

Ghosn se nuwe Alpine sal iets nader aan die A610 se voorganger die A110 wees. Dus 'n kompakte knaap met 'n ronde neus en 'n ronde stert wat hom met die Audi TT kan laat meeding.

Maar destyds se A610 was die ouboet van 'n geslag Alpines wat teen 1991 in 'n meneer van 'n sportmotor ontwikkel het. Die hoogtepunt van 'n reeks ontwikkelings, kan jy maar sê.

Diep in 1984 het die groep die opvolger van sy A310 bekend gestel: die nuwe A610. Basies het Alpine die Renault 25 se enjin en ratkas geneem, asook van sy instrumente en sitplekke, en 'n nuwe onderstel en bakwerk daarvoor voorzien.

Die bakwerk was een van die hoogtepunte. Dit was glasveselpanele wat om 'n staalraamwerk geplaas is, 'n proses wat heelwat kilogramme gespaar het.

Die voorkoms was die ander sterkpunt van die wa. Getrou aan daardie era was die Alpine lank en plat en het die agterste venster uit 'n groot glaspaneel bestaan.

Dink ook aan die Porsche 944 en die Mazda RX-7.

Dié eerste weergawe van die A610 het die 2,5 liter-enjin van die Renault gekry. Dit was gaaf vir die middel 1980's, maar toe begin die era van turbo's aanbreek, en die Japanners het die een koepee ná die ander uitgerol.

Dit het Alpine teen die einde van die tagtigerjare laat besef sy motor sal 'n varser voorkoms en meer krag moet kry as hy hom met die turbo's en Japanners wil laat meeding.

In 1991 het Alpine dus sy opgeknapte A610 bekendgestel, die laaste wat hy sou bou.

Dié keer is die plat voorkoms meer hoekig gemaak, die glasveselpanele aan die metaal bakwerk vasgegom en die hoofligte opwipligte gemaak (destyds 'n gewilde opsie).

By die skuins agterruit het Alpine ook die breë C-pilaar 'n groot driehoekvormige venster gemaak wat die hele agterkant van die motor soos 'n glaskoepel laat lyk het. By die agterwiele is klein lugopeninge gevoeg, wat lugvloei na die enjin moes verbeter.

Die enjin was nou 'n 3,0 liter-V6, toegerus met 'n Garrett-turbo. Die enjin is agter geplaas, net voor die agteras.

Die ABS-remstelsel en die battery is na die neus geskuif vir beter gewigverspreiding (die noodwiel het steeds langs die enjinholte gebly), maar die agterwiele is smaller gemaak vir skerper hantering.

Die ligte bakwerk (die Alpine het skaars 1 200 kg geweeg) en fris turbo het die A610 skielik op 944- en Lotus Esprit-terrein laat beland. Versnelling was in die 5.6-sekonde-gebied.

Ondanks 'n agtergeplaaste enjin en 'n turbo wat eers ná 2 000 toere sy krag met 'n knal losgelaat het, was die hantering beskaafd. Nie so stert-uitswaai-parmantig soos die Porsche nie, het berigte gelui.

In vergelykende toetse het die Alpine uitgeblink. Tydskrifte het hom gereeld teen die 944, die Esprit, die RX-7 en die Nissan 300SX geplaas, en klokslag het hy bo uitgekom.

Maar om die een of ander rede wou hy nie verkoop nie. Slegs sowat 800 eenhede is verkoop, tussen 1991 en 1995. Wat hom vandag dadelik 'n gesogte ryding maak.

Renault se planne vir die herlewing van Alpine sal weliswaar 'n klein motor behels, met 'n tweeliter-viersilinder (wel met 'n turbo) onder die neus. Maar sal hy die mistiek van die ou motors kan voortdra? Ons sal aanstaande jaar weet wanneer hy markgereed is.

Intussen kan jy uitsien na die Paryse motorskou (in Oktober), waar hy bes moontlik sy debuut sal maak.

It has been some time since I send something in from here Down Under so the only news I have is about the new baby in the family, a Matra.

Not many people know the history of Matra so as a brief introduction, this is how it started.

There was a Frenchman called Rene Bonnet that was an excellent engineer with excellent ideas and with absolutely no financial sense. This is early 1960s and his thoughts to himself was that if the best handling cars were mid-engined, (the start of mid-engine F1 Lotuses ala Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jack Brabham etc,) then why can't I take a F1 car and put a body over it? So he did. That was the start and very first production mid-engine car ever. The RB Djet.

The cars built were revolutionary but as said before, soon he was in financial difficulty with Matra were he rented his factory space and had Matra produce his bodies for him. Matra is an aeronautics company. Instead of closing him down, they took his business over in 1964 and continued the production of these cars although it was now called the Matra Djet.

He used anything he could lay his hands on for a good price. That is why there are a lot of Renault, Peugeot, Citroen and Simca parts in this car. A lot was well thought and well used like the Caravelle boot lid catch used as the door catch/handle. The first RBs were powered by the Dauphine motors and then by R8 motors. When Matra took over the 1100 Gordini motors became available that was used in the Matra Djet 5S. Eventually the 1255 Gordini motors were on the market and they were used in the Matra Jet 6. Production of the Djet/Jet series then ended in 1968. With the new Matra model, the 530, Renault withdrew their support and no more engines were supplied to Matra. They decided to continue support to the Alpine A110 because of Jean Redele's involvement with Renault.

That is where the NZ car comes in. It is one of the last, 1968 model, Jet 6s produced with a 1255 Gordini motor and chassis number 139 of 222 made in 1967 and 1968. Bought from a guy in South Africa, it arrived in NZ in May 2012. We, Jacques(my son) and myself then decided to do a complete restoration on the car from wheels to chassis to body. It was stripped to bare bones. Not a single part on the car was left intact.

 First the chassis was stripped until there wasn't a bolt or nut in place. We were pleasantly surprised about the condition of the chassis. Not a spot of rust to be seen. We took it down to the sandblaster and he cleaned it very thoroughly and sprayed a special 3 pack coating on. Then it had to stand for 6weeks while this coating cured. During this curing process it etches itself into the metal. It was a professional job. That was the easy part and all done. The previous owners attempted to convert the car to a right hand drive. Because there was only one right hand drive in the world (specially made for the Marquee in England) this one had to be converted back to left-hand drive. A friend here in NZ imported a R8S from Mexico but when it arrived he found that it was rotten with rust. So that meant that I became the lucky owner of a left hand drive rack and pinion. That was cleaned and bead blasted and coated with a clear coat. Then I stripped it and cleaned and reconditioned that to be equal to a brand new item.

All the hubs were stripped and cleaned. New wheel bearings fitted to all 4 wheels and the rear discs, same as R8, were sorted and the best ones taken in to be skimmed. New kits in the calipers completed the rears. The front brakes on this car come from a R16. These were stripped, cleaned, overhauled and skimmed. Brand new condition as well.

 I removed the gauges from the dash, same as Gordini gauges, although this car had 5.....a water temperature, oil temperature, oil pressure, fuel and battery gauge. The oil pressure gauge was missing so that was bought from Ebay. I stripped the gauges and cleaned them, painted the pointers with a white that I mixed until I had the same white as the printed letters and got new bezel rings that were modified and fitted because they are actually Smiths bezel rings.

Then the engine got its turn. I stripped it down and found many serious mistakes. It was so bad that I discarded the block and built a complete new engine using only the cylinder head. That was very bad as well. The exhaust ports were enlarged to an unbelievable dimension. That is something that should never be done, MHO, because the velocity of the gases is slowed down and then it can't assist in the scavenging of burnt gas. I started the repair on that by machining the ports so that they were parallel again and turned inserts from aluminium bar to the original ID and pressed them into the newly machined parallel ports. I made a cam timing adjustment adapter and set the valve timing to my liking when I assembled the motor. Some baffles were made in the sump for preventing oil surge when some brisk driving was needed.

  All the chassis components were put back onto the chassis and it advanced to such an extent that it is now in rolling state again. The next step is to have the sunroof closed up because this car never came out with a sunroof. Due to the wonders of the www. I managed to make contact with the original owner. An old man in his eighties but still with a sharp mind and memory. He bought the car in 1968 and went to South Africa in 1969 for work taking the Matra with. He used it until 1979 when he returned to Germany and sold the car in ZA. He sent me pictures of the car when he bought it and told me some of the history. He said that the car was registered in Kempton Park, a small little town on the Eastern side of Johannesburg. ☺ When the fibre glass work is completed the body will go to the spray painters where the final colour will be silver with dark navy blue stripes over it.

There is still a lot of work to be done but it will be worth it. The car has already been in a classic car magazine in this unfinished state and a full article will be done when it is finished.

Regards

Frans.