1974 Renault Alpine

A110 16 Soupapes Team Vialle


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Chassis no. 20377
Engine no. 807 G4 no.104

- Great racing history in period
- One of the 3 Alpines fitted with this engine today
- Fully restored
- A110 1600 VD converted into 1800 B 16-valve Gr. 5

Shipment date from the factory: 8 November 1974
Sold new in Belgium with an 8-valve 1605cc type 844 engine
Current engine type: Renault Gordini 807 G4 1800cc 16-valve

The factory in Dieppe gave the name "A110 Bis" to the berlinettes fitted with the double-wishbone rear suspension from the 4-cylinder A310 and built for competition. Although most of the works drivers preferred the older rear suspension from the R8 Gordini, the double-wishbone setup of the "Bis", developed by Mauro Bianchi's prototype workshop, was much more modern and sophisticated than its predecessor, with its extension shafts fixed to the gearbox. The factory assembled four "Bis" models for its own use and ten or so for its customers. While 20377 was not one of these, it was rebuilt for rallycross in 1976 in identical spec to the latest berlinette, prototype 20503 with the Renault Gordini 16-valve Dudot engine, which was intended to compete in the 1975 Tour de France, but on Renault's orders never took part.

The 16-valve 807 G4 engine
As early as 1971, at Renault's request, Amédée Gordini undertook a study of a 16-valve head based on the 807 aluminium block from the Renault 16. This type 68 engine was never fully developed and only two heads survive today. The project was taken up by Bernard Dudot and Jean-Pierre Boudy around 1973 in order to evaluate some mechanical options for rallying, alongside Alpine Renault's return to circuit racing with the famous 90° V6 engine, which would take them to victory at Le Mans and then into Formula 1. This Renault Gordini engine, developed by the engineers at Viry-Châtillon (whereas Gordini, a brilliant preparer of race cars, was not a trained engineer) was also based on the 807 block from the R16 TS which had already taken Alpine to victory in the 1973 World Rally Championship. It had a dummy lateral cam and chain-driven twin overhead cams. The engine had a capacity of 1774cc, with an 82mm bore and 84mm stroke. It weighed just 100kg and peak power of 200bhp at 8000rpm was claimed, with maximum torque of 19.5 at 6500 rpm and a high compression ratio of 11.8:1.
These engines could be equipped with either guillotine-type Lucas injection or carburettors, and with a dry or wet sump. In March 1978, an 807 G4 engine, complete with clutch, alternator and starter, but without the special exhaust, cost 35,280 FF (5380 €) with carburettors and 38,808 FF (5915 €) in fuel-injected form, virtually half the price of a new Alpine A310 V6! This experimental engine was due to be built for a works R17 Gordini (the Group 5 car kept by Renault Heritage) and some Alpines. Only four works 4-cylinder A310s and a single A110 (no. 20503) were originally fitted with the engine. Although reference is made to a hundred or so heads produced for homologation, it is certain that very few complete engines were assembled, perhaps 20 at most. Alpine only had 7 engines for its competition department! The 807 G4 no. 104, fitted to 20377, was not one of these, so it may be inferred that Viry-Châtillon assigned it to Hubert Melot, who looked after the Gr. 2 and Gr. 5 Renault 17s. This highly developed but fragile engine took Jean-Luc Thérier to victory in the Ronde Cévenole and the Rallye Vercors Vivarais in 1975 with an A310 1800. The results of the R17, however, did not live up to the expectations for the engine.

The "Team Vialle" Alpine A110, chassis no. 20377
In 1976, the Dutch Renault dealer Jos Fassbender wanted to enter several berlinettes in the European Rallycross Championship. Renault would have preferred the A310, but the Dutch team wanted to prepare the A110. These were assigned to Fassbender and the Kruythof brothers, Cees and Piet, of whom Piet was certainly the best. The main sponsor was the Dutch industrialist Sjef Vialle and, logically, the team was called Team Vialle Autogas. For its leading driver Piet Kruythof, a damaged standard A110 1600 VD, chassis no. 20377, was purchased from the well-known Belgian preparer Benny Raeppers in Sint-Truiden, who was also a good customer for Alpine's parts department in Dieppe!
Raeppers had several 807 G4 engines from Alpine and the Vialle team bought two of these, along with some spare parts and, lastly, a specific rear bonnet giving improved mechanical access. This wide panel, incorporating the rear screen, was identical to the one on the only A110 fitted with the 16-valve engine by the factory, which Raeppers would soon afterwards buy from a certain Hervé Poulain for his regular driver Albert Vanierschot. The Alpine world is a small one! Raeppers told us that the 807 G4 was installed by Frans Van Doremalen, a mechanic at Fassbender's, while Theo Van Bree looked after the Group 5 bodywork modifications. The engineer Thom Meijling took charge of developing the berlinettes for gravel events. Painted in the colours of the Team Vialle Autogas, the car was duly assigned to Piet Kruythof. In 1977, the Team Vialle entered three A110 1800s in each rallycross event: one for Fassbender, the second for Cees Kruythof and the 16S for Piet. At the end of the season, Piet finished 7th in the European Championship. The three Vialle cars also competed in the French round at Lohéac. In 1978, Piet won several rounds, including Valkenswaard. He finished 1st in the Dutch Rallycross Championship and 4th in the European Championship.
20377 was then bought by André Albers (the father of the F1 driver Christijan Albers) and later by Willem Van Dalen in 1980. He also entered it in rallycross, finishing 7th in the 1981 European Championship. In 1984, the car rolled several times, bringing its career to an end: the roof was flattened and the chassis twisted, and it spent several years in storage in this state. Van Dalen sold it in April 1987 to be restored, which its new, English owner, John Wheeler, did over a number of years until 2001, restoring the body, engine and chassis. Work on the body was carried out by Robert Dumont in France, on the engine by Dave Wedge at TD Motorsports and on the gearbox (a 4-speed with short ratios for use in autocross and a Hewland limited-slip differential) by Andrew Britten at EPA Engineering. Tim Duffee at Darrian Cars was responsible for project coordination and reassembly of the car, as well as the paintwork in the Team Vialle Autogas livery. So that the car could be driven on the road, 20377 was then fitted with a standard front fuel tank, a wiring loom with headlamps and a Techcraft exhaust.

The restoration took 14 years and breathed new life into this very distinguished Alpine with its rare 16-valve G4 engine. It should be noted that only three Alpines fitted with this engine are still in running order: the ex-Poulain A110 1800 VB (20503), owned by a French collector, an A310 1800 VC in Switzerland, and this car.

Gilles Vallerian

Results for 20377 in the European Rallycross Championship

1977, Piet Kruythof Team VIALLE: 7th in the Championship
Netherlands 1st
Belgium 4th
Germany 5th

1978, Piet Kruythof Team VIALLE: 4th in the Championship
United Kingdom 3rd
France 9th
Belgium 5th
Germany 1st

1981, Van Dalen: 7th in the Championship
United Kingdom 7th
Netherlands 6th
Norway 4th
Denmark 5th

For more information and photos: https://www.artcurial.com/fr/lot-1974-alpine-a110-16-soupapes-team-vialle-3980-103