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A110 1800 Gr. IV "1973 ALPINE RALLY"

Updated: Jul 24, 2023






Quelle: Renault Revue 1973


Due especially to pressure exerted by Fiat and Alpine Renault the FIA launched a World Rally Championship for the first time in 1973. Alpine Sports Director Jacques Cheinisse gathered an exquisite circle of French rally stars to conquer the world with the Alpine Berlinettes.

A total of 13 tests had to be mastered, of which Alpine Renault only loaded 10 with their Berlinettes. Bernard Darniche, Jean-Luc Thérier and Jean Pierre Nicolas were the main protagonists at the wheel for Alpine. They were supported on home turf by Jean Francois Piot, Jean Claude Andruet and Ove Andersson. The spectacle was set to begin in January with the Monte Carlo Rally, followed by the Sweden, East African Safari, Acropolis, Austrian Alpine Rally and the RAC Rally in Great Britain, to name but a few.

A total of 17 works cars were prepared by Alpine Renault in 1973 and sent onto the track to win the first Constructors' World Rally Championship.

The car with the then French registration number 9846HL76 was one of the 17 cars with which Jean-Luc Thérier and Jean-Pierre Nicolas vied for the crown of the World Rally Championship.

In the end, Alpine Renault's efforts were crowned with success, the Alpine Armada won 6 of the 10 rallies in which they competed, and the "blue riders" took the rally crown to France.




12-15 JULY 1973


The 1973 Poland Rally will go down in history as one of the toughest WRC rallies to date. Of 62 cars on the grid, only three were classified at the finish. The average speed on open roads between special stages was sometimes over 120 km/h. The 3912 km track with 55 special stages totaling 734 km was particularly tough as it took place shortly after the major floods in Poland and many roads were either closed or badly damaged. Both the cars and the drivers had to work wonders to stay within the time limit. Only six cars made it to the finishing line and only three of them stayed within the given time limit. Achim Warmbold won with a lead of 2 hours 47 minutes ahead of the second car.


Jean-Luc Theriér

Few drivers were so respected by their competitors and even fewer were universally as popular as Jean-Luc Thérier. Thérier was also one of those drivers who thrived and became famous in the lap of the great Alpine-Renault team that dominated this sport in the early seventies. At the wheel of the flat berlinette, he was always the most spectacular driver, because he loved to oversteer, hated frequent training and believed that, above all, driving should be fun.

A tightrope artist whose extraordinary foresight made improvising child's play. Thérier was just as at home on gravel as he was on snow or asphalt, the preferred terrain of French rally drivers. He proved this in 1970 when, at the age of 25, he won the San Remo and the Acropolis Rally in quick succession. Thérier was one of the stars of the team that became known as "The Three Musketeers" and won the manufacturers' world championship for Alpine-Renault in 1973. If there had been a drivers' championship back then, Thérier would have become the first world champion in rally history.

A friendly buddy, witty and charming, a gourmet and party animal, Thérier remained loyal to Renault for a long time before he spent a hapless time at Toyota at the end of the seventies. When he had restored his reputation in France and a World Cup comeback was in sight, fate once again slowed him down. As he was about to take the lead in the Paris-Dakar desert rally with a small Citroen Visa 1000 tracks, he rolled over and injured himself so badly that one arm remained completely paralyzed. That was in 1985 and he was not even 40 years old at that time. Bad luck, grief, lawyers and bailiffs followed him thereafter. He never overcame the physical and psychological consequences of the accident and died on 31 July 2019 in his hometown of Neuchâtel-en-Bray in Normandy at the age of 73.

© Grzegorz Chyla, András Fekete


Jean Luc Theriér dominated the 1973 season and scored half of all Alpine victories. With gifted talent and mostly without any training, he dominated the competition with his spectacular driving style on all terrains.

Thérier was in second place behind Warmbold for a long period of time when Mahé muddled up the start for a special stage due to fatigue on the 50th special stage. However, Theriér did not let himself be distracted and gave his Berlinette the spurs on the last 6 special stages, reaching the finishing line with a lead of more than 30 minutes ahead of Warmbold. Unfortunately, only the disqualification awaited the Theriér/Mahé team.


One of the 17 vehicles prepared by Alpine Renault for the 1973 World Rally Championship, bearing the registration 9846HL76 was deployed for the first time at the 7th stage of the current World Rally Championship – the Poland Rally. The A110 sparkled in director Renault light blue with all sorts of color applications on the rally tracks.

Jean Luc Thérier and Alain Mahé set off on the 9846HL76 "maiden voyage" completely unaware of taking part in one of the toughest rallies Europe had seen in a long time.

The Poland Rally was too much of a bad thing – it went down in the history of this WRC owing to its chaotic organization and its cruel rally route.




12-16 SEPTEMBER 1973

In 1973, the "Austrian Alpine Rally" was part of the World Rally Championship. The name “Alpenfahrt” suggests that the rally took place in the mountains. This is not the case. The rally was driven 26 kilometers south of Vienna near Baden. The rally included 31 special stages over a driving distance of 324.5 kilometers.

Only 2 factory Berlinetta’s were sent to the Alpine country – Theriér asked for a break because he wanted to contest the Tour de France in his own country at that time. Bernard Darniche/Alain Mahé tackled the rally in the 6996HM76 – their 1800s bore the start number 2. The 9846HL76 with start number 11 was taken over by Jan Pierre Nicolas and the owner of the vehicle Michel Vial.


Jean Pierre Nicolas

At the age of 23, he received a contract as a works driver with Alpine Renault. From then on, he was one of the "three musketeers" that helped Alpine Renault to victory in the 1973 World Rally Championship. After a 2nd place at the TAP Rally in Portugal, he won the legendary Tour of the Corse in 1973.

Jean-Pierre Nicolas practically grew up with the car because his father, Georges, owned a workshop and, as a rally driver, occasionally sat at the wheel of works Renaults. Jean-Pierre had barely reached the minimum age when he was already in his father's passenger seat and at the last Liège-Sofia-Liège, he drove a works car himself for the first time (Renault 8 prototype). He was 19 years old at the time. After that, he was fortunate enough to be named as an up-coming talent, along with Thérier, Andruet and others by Jacques Cheinisse, in the up-coming Alpine team. Cheinisse desperately needed drivers, preferably French, and he trusted in the virtues of youth. At the age of less than 23, Nicolas signed his first contract as a works driver with Alpine-Renault.

For a long time, the exuberant, somewhat roundish southerner was regarded as the "the savior" in the French team.

He may not have been as good a sprinter as his teammates, but at a time when perseverance was worth something in rallying, you could always count on him. He won in Portugal and Morocco, among other races.

Like Thérier, Nicolas paid a high price for his loyalty to Renault. He had to wait until 1978 to leave a lasting impression, but then managed it impressively. He won the Monte Carlo Rally, the Safari and the Ivory Coast Rally in the same year. He ended his driving career with the further development of Peugeot's great Group B car, the 205T16, to the highest competitiveness. In 1985 he took over the customer racing department at Peugeot and since then has been focusing all his ambition on returning Peugeot to rallying at the highest level.




After the Poland Rally, the 9846HL76 underwent comprehensive technical service. It received the newly revised engine Mignotet No. MS 19, which already served in a sister car at the Monte Carlo Rally and the TAP Rally.

In addition, it was given a special air filter to supply the intake air from the interior of the vehicle to the drive unit.

A light underride guard of the Acropolis Rally was also part of the revision.

After all sorts of quarrels and protests about the blockade action of Alpine race director Jacques Cheinisse, Jean Pierre Nicolas piloted the 9846Hl76 to 5th place overall. Bernard Darniche achieved victory in his factory alpine after a breathtaking finish with a ridiculous 1.1 seconds over the previously far leading Saab of Per Eklund.






17-21 NOVEMBER 1973


The main reason for the popularity of the RAC rally is,

it attracts more foreign participants than any other motorsport event in the world. The road network through the state forests, these elaborate roads whose bulges suggest they were intended for fast rally cars rather than chugging trucks loaded with wood are ideal for sport. Although exotic events like the Safari have their own appeal, both amateurs and professionals invariably put the RAC Rally at the top of their list of priorities. In the last two or three years, however, the rally has been threatened by its own popularity. The thrilling spectacle of the world's best drivers showcasing their skills on dirt roads has transformed the event from an event watched only by die-hard enthusiasts some ten years ago to one that attracts more spectators than any other sporting event.

Organizationally, the rally cannot yet compete with the Moroccan, the Austrian Alps or the Thousand Lakes, but it has hugely improved over the years.


After the 9846HL76 was exhibited at the Paris Motor Show at the beginning of October 1973, Jacques Cheinisse sent it together with the 2462HN76 to the tranquil town of York in Great Britain to participate in the RAC Rally.

Jean Luc Theriér had everything under control with start number 3, but England did not offer Renault a favorable terrain. Mechanical weaknesses forced Alpine Renault to withdraw its set ambitions.

From Thérier's point of view, the history of the RAC is therefore quickly told. With a broken distribution drive, Thérier had to park his Berlinette and exit the race prematurely. At the end of the rally Nicolas on 2462HN76 finished 5th overall.






Attila Ferjáncz

Attila Ferjáncz (12 July 1946 - 23 April 2016) was a Hungarian rally driver. He won the Hungarian Rally Championship from 1976 to 1982 and 1985 and 1990.

"In Hungary, this Alpine was called 'bad frog' and it was really evil – driving this Alpine was sometimes dangerous. Unfortunately, I got this Alpine much too late to be competitive against Roser and Thérier, for example. When Roser won Munich-Vienna-Budapest with his Berlinette in 1969, we were still driving on R8 Gordini."

© István Falus

© András Fekete


Patrick Landon, responsible for the Eastern Bloc countries at Renault, sold the 9846HL76 to Hungary on 26 March 1974. There the 9846HL76s second life began. It has remained one of the very few works cars that left France at that time.

From then on, under the new owner "Team VOLAN" - a large Hungarian transport company - she carries the registration AU-7683. A permanent fixture in rallying in the Eastern Bloc, Team VOLAN was to win many more victories with her

Attila Ferjáncz in a Renault 8 Gordini became the Hungarian Rally Champion 1968 + 1969.

Compared to the rally cars common in the Eastern Bloc such as Lada, Skoda or Wartburg, this works Berlinette from France appeared to be from another planet. In April 1974, Attila Ferjáncz squeezed himself into the narrow cockpit of the former factory Alpine for the first time.


7. Rally dell'Isola d'Elba 1974

18-20 APRIL 1974


At the 1974 Elba Rally problems with the electrical system and a defective starter motor made it necessary for a service check at Berti Dino. In the end, the Ferjáncz – Zsembery team finished with a respectable 14th overall on their debut.

© Antonio Biasioli, András Fekete, Actualfoto IT


In the picture to the left of the AU-7683 (No. 9) the Berlinette 1800 Gr. IV driven by the Takov brothers (No.12) from Bulgaria. The only two 1800 factory Berlinettes that were delivered to the eastern bloc by ALPINE's racing department and enriched the rally scene beyond the Iron Curtain. Both vehicles found their way to Germany almost 40 years later and found their revival at alpineLAB.


Spectator interest in rallying in the eastern bloc was overwhelming in the early 1970s, as this image impressively confirms. Many spectators wanted to catch a glimpse of the cars racing past and jostled for the best seats at the edge of the track, or in the adjacent grandstands and car parks.

© Robert Szombati, Nikolay Krazalev



A dark chapter begins for the ex-factory alpine, after it was no longer competitive on the rally tracks. In the late seventies, the AU-7683 said goodbye to the rally scene and a handful of privateers were now to pilot it primarily on hill climbs. Most recently, the former 9846HL76 fell into the hands of an ex-mechanic of Team VOLAN, who massively modified the vehicle. Under the hands of various owners, the appearance changed almost annually, resulting the former 9846HL76 undergoing a true metamorphosis.





JULY 2008


Although the sale of the 9846HL76 in March 1974 to Hungary was no secret among insiders, the vehicle was assumed to be missing by many people who were not in the know. It was even suspected in various publications to be in Germany. However, the vehicle remained in Hungary all these years and for many of those years led a miserable existence in the backyard of a scrap yard. A former mechanic of Team VOLAN had taken over the car, after it was no longer competitive on the rally tracks in the Eastern Bloc. The former 9846HL76 underwent a true metamorphosis under the new owner’s hands, with all sorts of technical and optical modifications. In the end, she was taken out of service, insufficiently protected against weather influences and facing a very uncertain fate. This bleak existence was to come to an end. I tracked down the vehicle in Hungary, was able to purchase it and transferred it to Germany, which means that the publications that had been incorrect in the past, were now corrected.


Exposed once the thick layer of dirt was removed, the magic combinations of numbers come to light.

Bingo! The numbers identify this Berlinette as an original factory car.







When I took over the 9846HL76 in Hungary, at first glance there was almost no connection to its origin nor to its history. Hopelessly modified, dressed in Hungarian national colors, only the number plates hidden under a thick layer of dirt to certify the origin and history of this Berlinette.

For years she was behind the Iron Curtain in incognito mode and hid her true face behind spoilers and under countless layers of paint. Piece by piece, however, she revealed her secret during disassembly, in which unmistakable fragments of her former factory livery came to light under her disguise.

The substance of the vehicle was significantly worse than the first impression suggested. The discoveries made during dismantling left no doubt that this Berlinette was taken to and over her limit in her rally days. In return, however, many details and characteristics of a factory Alpine came to light, revealing a little insight into the special features that the mechanics in the motorsport department of SERVICE COURSES gave to a factory alpine back then.