1978 Renault-Alpine A442/B Pilots: D. Pironi, J-P. Jaussaud Team: Renault Sport Race: 1st overall (class Group 6) at Le Mans in 1978 Spark - 43LM78 (resin)
Since 1971, Alpine had very strict ties with Renault, and by 1976 Renault bought the company. And with that, Alpine became Renault’s race car development department. In 1975 Alpine started developing a new car for sports prototype racing, the A442. The new car was a direct descendant of the A440 and A441, but with one big difference: turbocharging. The A442 used a 1997 cm³ V6 Renault-Gordini engine boosted by a large Garrett turbocharger. In race trim, power output was around 490 hp. The chassis was a relatively small steel space frame enveloped by a much longer glass fiber body. It had a particularly long tail to improve aerodynamics, especially because of the Mulsanne straight. But maybe the most eye-catching aspect of the car was the acrylic roof, that granted an extra 8 km/h at La Sarthe.
For the 24 Heures du Mans of 1978, Renault Sport had three different cars in the race. The team counted on a A442/A, one A443 and a A442/B. However, only the A442/B #2 finished (and won!) the race. The A442/B was the only one with the acrylic roof, and therefore earned the nickname of “Bubble Top”. The win at Le Mans was the last race of chassis #4423. After the race Renault retired the car and to this day it still participates in a few historic races around Europe, with the same livery.
Like what happened with my Jaguar XJR-12 #3, this A442/B #2 is also the second time I buy this model. I bought it with the Jag from C-K, where it was listed as Ixo, but in reality it was a pw. In all fairness a very decent pw, but that’s not what I paid for. So it was a model I had to replace, just out of spite. And since this one’s from Spark, now I have a great model of the first Renault to win Le Mans.