Curbside Classic: Alpine A 106 – How We Found One Of The Rarest French Cars Ever

Alpine A 106 A

(Mike Tippett, Peugeot 404 Coupe owner and Francoautophile, sent this to me. Pictures of the subject found A106 are by the author; copyright reserved)

Back in 1981/82, I had a Dauphine with a transplanted 1300 cc engine, my friend Chris had an original Dauphine Gordini that we had brought back from the dead and Bruce (in the Adidas shirt) also later got a Dauphine, with an 1100 transplant. We were Renault keeners, with a particular interest in Dauphine era cars.

We all knew two guys in Vancouver BC who have had interesting Renaults since the 1970s: Doug Carlisle and Jim Barker. Jim had an 8 Gordini, and Doug now owns one 8G plus two more in parts. Somehow back in the late seventies they found out about the fellow who owns the A106. The owner had a shop on Aurora Avenue (Highway 99) near Seattle back then, called Monza Motors; that’s probably how they found him. Anyway Jim and Doug told Bruce, Chris and me about the A106, but were playing coy about where it was located.

Matra-DjetMatra Djet

In ’81 and again in ’82 we went to Monza Motors and talked to the owner but he didn’t say anything the A106, although he did have a Matra Djet IV in his Monza Motors shop. The Djet has a twincam 1 litre Renault-derived engine!

Anyway in 1983 we were dropping a German friend (Reiner Plass) off at Sea-Tac for his flight back home…we were running late because Bruce’s 17 Gordini kept breaking down on I-5…Reiner wanted to go with us on the A106 search too but we had to drop him off at the airport due to the 17G’s trick fuel pump which cost us an hour. On the way home in North Seattle we snooped through the phone book and got a home address for the owner of Monza Motors. We drove around the area and couldn’t see anything and then Chris said: “hey look at the old Porsche”. Well that was the A106 under the tree. We knocked on the door and the owner’s young son (probably 12 years old) came out and showed us the car, we snapped the shots and sent them to Reiner.

Alpine A 106 B

We had intermittent contact with the owner (who doesn’t want his name published) over the years, but he is attached to that car for reasons I mentioned before and so he says he will never sell it. I even had an extremely proficient and well stocked Alpine collector from France asks me how to contact the owner and I told him how, warning him that he won’t sell, and well, he wouldn’t!

Alpine A 106 2007 b

I wondered over the years what became of it so I looked the owner up again in 2007. We drove to Seattle to get my eldest daughter’s graduation dress and on the way back we stopped by. Now the car was in a large workshop on the same property, with all the outdoor patina intact. He won’t sell it because it has too much sentimental value (he says). The owner bought the car in the mid-sixties when he was posted to West Germany and brought it back with him. The car has oversized 7″ headlights instead of the 5.75″ ones it should have, US laws can be thanked for that.

Alpine A 106 2007 a

It is fitted with a tow bar bracket on the front , so the front bumper trim (aluminum/vinyl) is missing, but the car is remarkably complete. I think it needs a donor 4CV chassis to be rebuilt, but the A106s are so rare that a mega buck restoration is economically feasible these days. The owner also still has a Matra Djet IV, but that is another story…

Alpine A106 wikiimage source: wikipedia

A brief overview of the Alpine 106 by PN: The A106 was based on the Renault  4CV, and was the first in a series of fiberglass sports cars (all based on Renaults) built for a race-oriented Renault dealer in Dieppe, Jean Rédélé.

alpine a106-12image source:

The A106s were built in a various states of tune, from a mild 21 hp up to a 59 hp Dauphine-engined version. Unusual for this time, it could be ordered with a five-speed gear box, but at a very steep incremental cost. The A106 weighed some 1190 lbs (540 kg), and enjoyed some considerable in its racing class. Since only about 650 A106s were ever built, finding one in the US is quite a find.

Alpine 108 police

The 106 was superseded by the A108 (Dauphine based) and similar-looking A110 (R8 based). These “French Porsches” were successful in rally racing, winning the 1971 Monte Carlo Rally, among others. Various engine tunes were available, the top version having a Renault 16 based engine with 125 hp, and a top speed of 210 kmh (130 mph). Some A110s were even used by the French highway police.