Monday, March 3, 2014

Alpine A110

Having been prevented from shoehorning a Porsche 956 motor into the storage locker of a VW pickup by the unavailability of the Hasegawa VW pickup kit (, I've decided to tackle Tamiya's kit of the Alpine A110 that won the Monte Carlo in 1971.

It will fit in nicely with the other rally cars in the collection: the Mini that won the Monte Carlo in 1967, Lancia Stratos (1978), Audi S1 (1986) and a pair of Peugeots (1985 205 and 2001 206). Some of these are shown in the photos; the Audi and the 206 (not shown) have not been started.

The engine compartment of the 1985 206, nominally a FWD econobox, contrasts with the basic layout of the Mini.

Quite the evolution, really. The Mini had a stock 1275 cc pushrod motor making something like 65 horsepower with a pair of SU carburettors (the spell check doesn't like the British spelling here). Race upgrades consisted mainly of an undertray, extra headlights, a roll cage and snow tires; the rules were pretty strict and the aluminum valve cover was disallowed in favour of the stock stamped steel version.

The Alpine had a 1600 cc Renault motor hanging out the back, probably pushing 100 horsepower by virtue of a twin-cam conversion and a pair of Webers, but it was still very close to the road car. It was very pretty but the handling must have been extremely tail-happy, being based as it was on the Renault R8 which made the Corvair look good. Yes, that's a watercooled inline 4 in the tail of the A110 ... it's just missing the valve cover and a few auxiliary bits, and some of the paint needs tidying up.

The Stratos (below) demonstrates the early shift in rally car design from modified production car to purpose built racer; it was built for rally first and only a handful were ever sold to the public as road cars. The mid-engine 2.4 litre V6 came from the Ferrari Dino 246 and was a couple of generations ahead of the vaguely agricultural long-stroke motors in the Mini and Alpine. The Stratos was one of those designs that stood out for being completely outlandish but extraordinarily sexy, even before considering the Ferrari motor. What a tightly wound, muscular little thing it was.

The Audi was purpose built for rallying and few if any were sold for the street in this particular form. The front-mounted 2.2 litre 5-cylinder motor was turbocharged. The chassis was one of the first applications of Audi's quattro 4WD system. Unlike the sensuous Alpine or the muscular, strutting Stratos, it was all German efficiency: big square fender flares and a tail full of radiators. Function trumps style.

The 205 was a pedestrian FWD econobox with monster 4-cylinder turbo motor mounted in the back seat and driving all four wheels. A number of other manufacturers went the same route, with the Renault 5 Turbo and the Austin Metro 6R4 being prime examples. At some point the sanctioning bodies decided that something a little closer to an actual road car was needed, hence the 2001 206 with motor mounted in front where it would have been in the equivalent econobox. The turbo and 4WD were considered acceptable modifications.

I will post more as progress is made. The wet paint acquired a cat hair on the roof that will require some sanding and another coat, meanwhile the drivetrain is moving along as illustrated by the pictures above.

Originally posted 3 March 2014

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