Friday, March 7, 2014

Alpine A110 progress

Progress on the Alpine continues at a pace consistent with having a day job. The water-cooled, 1.6 litre inline 4 must have weighed a fair bit, based as it was on a Renault 8 (some references say 16) iron block, so it must have contributed to the 'handling', such as it was, in unpredictable ways, given its location way out back. And I am guessing that the Alpine-designed twin-cam head with a pair of big double-barrel Webers must have made for a fairly sudden onslaught of torque, further wreaking havoc with the handling. I once drove a Porsche 912 (an early attempt at a cheaper 911) with a peaky little 4-cylinder motor and similar carburation; the throttle was an on-off switch with nothing below about 4500 RPM, then suddenly everything worked. I can't imagine crossing that torque boundary with a tail-happy car in snow with skinny little tires, even if we are only talking about 100 or so horsepower ... at least it's got a proper A-arm rear suspension setup, not swing axles.

Nonetheless Alpine A110s took first and second (and either third or fourth, depending on whether you believe Wikipedia) in the 1971 Monte Carlo rally. Next best was a Porsche 914/6, the lovely little mid-engine roadster equipped, in 914/6 guise, with a 2-litre 911 engine instead of the standard VW Beetle motor. The 914 might have been the Miata of its day if it had been sold with a VW badge at a big discount, but that is a story for another day.

Alpine got into financial trouble by the mid-70's, and was bought out by Renault. The last Alpine, the A610, was built in the mid-90's; today the factory in Dieppe is the base for the RenaultSport division of Renault.

Getting back to the kit: chassis bits are painted and either assembled or close to it; interior bits are painted and need assembly and decals for the instrument panel. The smaller bits are not entirely up to Tamiya standards, with mold separation lines needing to be removed; it's obviously an older mold and could use a good cleanup. The body needs sanding to get rid of the orange peel, which is clearly visible in the photo and due to my use of spray paints rather than investing in an air brush; this will be followed by decals and metal transfers which will be time consuming. Stay tuned.
Originally posted 7 March 2014

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