Classic cars, defined by the human hand

Prototype Parade No. 286 | Model Cars November 1968 | Drawn and described by Graham Scott

Renault Alpine A110

S INCE the early fifties, it has been said that the French Motor car industry has been content to uphold its honour at Le Mans only in the smaller classes. In fact the `little blue cars' have dominated the bottom end of the entry list.

It started with a partnership between M. Rene Bonnet and M. Charles Deutsch, who formed Automobiles D.B. and were quite successful together with Dyna-Panhard and Monopole.

But by 1957 only D.B. remained and at the end of 1962, M. Bonnet and Deutsch parted, both forming their own firms, neither of which were as successful as D.B. Eventually the large Matra aircraft combine took over Autos. Bonnet, and developed the B.R.M. engined prototypes of 1966-7. M. Deutsch decided to give up racing after Le Mans 1967.

Luckily, to continue the tradition, the firm of Automobiles Alpine entered the fray in 1963 with a prototype of the present production model, the A.110, and built a sports prototype for 1964. Alpine had been founded by M. Jean Redele in 1952 and went into production with an all fibreglass sports car in 1955. Even with this great experience of unity construction, the Dieppe based company decided to build a spaceframe to support the otherwise strong fibreglass body. Only the doors and the removable front and rear panels are unstressed.

From the rather bulbous car of 1964 evolved the longer tailed version drawn, which was raced in 1965, 1966 and 1967 in 1150, 1300 and 1500 cm.3 classes powered by the Gordini twincam 4 cylinder Renault engine. The table shows the results of all Alpines at Le Mans, where the greatest achievement has been to win the Index of Thermal Efficiency twice, in 1964 and 1965. The car I have drawn was the one driven by Jacques Chienisse and Roger de Laganeste in 1967.

Now the experience built up by the smaller French manufacturers is being used well, for France is again emerging into major motor racing; Matra into Formula one, and Alpine into Sports Prototype, the aim being to win at Le Mans. Amedee Gordini, who himself competed at Le Mans seven times, has designed a vee 8 based on the Renault 4 to conform to the new 3 litre limit, and this was lowered into the A.210 chassis for testing, although a new body and chassis has since been designed, numbered A.220.

In the face of stiff opposition from Porsche, and the J. W. Ford G.T.40, Alpine hope to bring off the first French win at Le Mans since Talbot-Darracq in 1950. Eighteen years is a long time but I hope the French national anthem will play for Alpine at Le Mans in 1968.

Specification: Chassis: space frame using round tubing with cast alloy suspension supports, bonded to fibreglass body. Suspension: front and rear: double wishbones, outboard coil spring/damper units, anti-roll bars, outboard brakes (Girling). Wheels: cast disc, front with six holes, rear twelve, centre nut fixing. Engine: Renault Gordini 4 cyl, 2 o.h.c., two twin carbs., Lucas electronics. Gearbox: Porsche 5-speed.

Le Mans 1963

48 A.110 J. Rosinski-C. Heins crashed

49 A.110 R. Richard-P. Frecobaldi clutch

50 A.110 G. Verrier-B. Boyer bearings


46 A.200 R. de Laganeste-J. Morrogh 17th, 1st TE

47 A.200 M. Bianchi-J. Vinatier 25th

54 A.200 H. Grandsire-R. Masson gearbox

59 A.200 T. Zeccoli-P. Vidal 20th, 2nd TE


46 A.210 M. Bianchi-H. Grandsire retired

47 A.210 R. de Laganeste-J. Vinatier retired

50 A.210 P. Vidal-P. Revson engine

51 A.210 R. Masson-G. Verrier engine


44 A.210 J. Chienisse-R. de Laganeste (S-C) 11th, 1st TE

45 A.210 R. Bouharde-G. Verrier 12th, 3rd TE

46 A.210 M. Bianchi-J. Vinatier 13th, 2nd TE

47 A.210 P. Tiovenen-R. Jansson retired

55 A.210 A. de Cortanze-J. F. Piot retired

62 A.210 H. Grandsire-L. Cella 8th, 3rd P, 5th TE


45 A.210 M. Bianchi-J. Vinatier 13th, 6th TE, 9th P

46 A.210 J. Rosinski-H. Grandsire 9th, 5th TE, 6th P

47 A.210 J. C. Andruet-R. Bouharde retired

48 A.210 R. de Laganeste-J. Chienisse (S-C) 12th, 4th TE, 8th P

49 A.210 A. de Cortanze-A. le Guellac (S-C) 10th, 3rd TE, 7th P

55 A.200 J. L. Therier-F. Chevallier (NART) retired

56 A.210 G. Larrouse-P. Depailler retired

58 A.210 P. Vidal-E. Offenstadt retired

Model Cars

Renault Alpine A110

Renault Alpine A110 blueprints

Scale Plan Series #7 | Model Car & Track November 1964 | By Jonathan Thompson

Rover B.R.M.

T he Rover Co. Ltd. of Solihull, Warwickshire, England, has a long history of solid, well built touring cars, but more recently the firm has made a name in the very progressive field of gas turbine research. The first gas turbine was the Rover-built JET-1 of 1950, followed by the T-3 coupe of 1956 and the T-4 sedan of 1962, the latter being very close in concept, equipment, and finish to an eventual production machine. More recently Rover has developed a racing gas turbine in cooperation with the Owen Organization, utilizing a modified B.R.M. Grand Prix chassis.

The car first appeared at the Le Mans trials in April 1963. The Automobile Club de l'Ouest, organizer of the 24-hour race, had offered a prize of approximately $5000 to the first gas turbine car to compete at Le Mans — at a minimum average of 150 km/h (93.15 m.p.h.). The bodywork of the turbine car. probably built in haste, was the ugliest of any competition car in history. After some modification to the rear of the car Richie Ginther was able to reach 149 m.p.h. on the straight and to record a lap of 4 min. 30.7 sec. (111 m.p.h. average).

In June the car ran like a clock, quietly piling lap upon lap and finishing with an average of 107.84 m.p.h. Although it was not competing directly with the other cars in the race, the Rover-B.R.M. would have been 7th overall on actual distance covered. In addition to the prize, the car had earned a fair share of good publicity for the Rover firm. Teamed with Ginther was his fellow B.R.M. driver, Graham Hill.

The power unit of the car was the 2S/150 gas turbine, developed from the 2S/140 of the T-4 sedan; it produced 150 b.h.p. and turned at 62,000 r.p.m. (43,000 for the power turbine)! No heat exchanger was used, as fuel consumption was not a factor in its first outing. 48.5 Imp. gallons of paraffin were carried, giving a duration of about 3 hours between pit stops. Briefly, the engine was a two shaft, free power turbine consisting of a gasifier section, with turbine and compressor, and a power output section driving through reduction gears to the B.R.M. final drive. Overall reduction was 21.4/1.

The chassis was a multi tube arrangement based on the Formula 1 B.R.M. but widened to allow a two seater body. The wheelbase was slightly lengthened to 93.0 inches, while front and rear track were both 51.0 inches (compared to 52.5/52.25 for the Grand Prix car). The dry weight of the car was about 1350 lbs. Disc brakes, wheels, and tires were all of Dunlop manufacture, the former being somewhat larger than normal to compensate for the lack of engine braking inherent in the turbine. The body, built of light alloy, featured very high fenders and a large awkwardly shaped plexiglas windscreen with an inset glass panel.

For 1964 the car was eligible to compete in the Le Mans race proper, having been classified equivalent to a 2-liter machine. This meant that its direct opponents would be the well known Porsches; in addition there was now a restriction on the amount of fuel that could be carried.

A brand new car turned up at the early trials; just as the 1963 machine was as ugly as could be imagined, the 1964 version had one of the most handsome and carefully designed bodies ever to come out of Great Britain. The nose was long and gracefully tapered, coupe roof very tautly formed, and the tail section high and crisp. Altogether the body would have not have looked out of place on an expensive Grand Touring car. The only mildly disturbing note was the position of the retractable headlamps, high and close together in a fashion which seems to remain popular in England. Fully retracted, however, the panels were flush with the hood and did not mar the extremely clean contours of the car. The filler cap, windshield wiper, and air intakes were the only other details to break up the surface. The main problem facing the Rover engineers was fuel consumption, as it was doubtful that the car could go far enough between stops to be competitive. In this respect a new heat exchanger was being developed to improve the fuel economy, but the high cost and short life of such units was a problem. An inexpensive glass ceramic material was being developed by Corning Glass Works for use by Rover, but it was not ready in time for the Le Mans race and the car was regretfully withdrawn. This was unfortunate, for in addition to its new exterior the car featured internal refinements, including a new rear suspension based on the 1964 B.R.M. Formula 1 car, and an improvement in the throttle response of the engine. Previously, the gas turbine engine had been extremely slow in getting up to useable r.p.m.

The car which appeared at the trials in April, depicted in our scale plan, practiced only briefly. The fastest lap recorded by Graham Hill at the session was only 4 min. 50.2 sec., showing that no real attempt was being made to achieve high speeds at that time. A “detuned" gas turbine unit was used for the tests.

The Rover-B.R.M. undoubtedly will return for the 1965 event, still further developed. It may be some years before a gas turbine car is competitive in racing, but the Rover-B.R.M. has already set new standards for smooth, trouble free racing at comparatively high speeds, and may be the forerunner of really superb Grand Touring cars in the future. It is difficult to say what maximum speeds might have been reached by the turbine car had it run at Le Mans this year, but 165 m.p.h. does not seem too optimistic in view of the improved aerodynamics.

A lap time of 4 min. 15 sec. also seems within reason, suggesting that the British car could have battled with the Porsche GTS on something like equal terms. We may have the answer in 1965.

DIMENSIONS: Wheelbase 93.0 inches. Track 51.0 inches front and rear. Length 160.9 inches. Front overhang 35.1 inches. Rear overhang 32.8 inches. Height 42.4 inches. Width 60.5 inches. Tires 5.50 x 15 front, 6.50 x 15 rear.

Rover B.R.M.

Rover BRM gas turbine car technical drawings