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Tuesday 3rd October

This is a £4.25million Renault

This Renault-Alpine A442 is coming up for auction, and it could be Renault’s only Le Mans winner

Published: 11 Nov 2021

You’ll notice that up above we said this ‘could be’ Renault’s only Le Mans winner. That’s because there’s a fairly major dispute raging between Renault itself and other members of the classic car community as to which A442 chassis won the race in 1978.

You see, Renault only built four examples of the A442 after its merger with Alpine and Gordini. It was the successor to the Alpine A440 and A441 but was the first of that line to have a turbo bolted on to its 2.0-litre V6. That upped power considerably, from around 270bhp to 490bhp. Think of the lag!

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This particular car – which is heading up for auction at the RM Sotheby’s Guikas Collection sale – is chassis 4422 (the third car). It debuted with a second place finish at the 4 Hours of Monza in 1976 and then went on to race at Imola, Mosport and Circuit Dijon-Prenois to name but a few places, always finishing near the pointy end at the chequered flag.

All four A442s were then entered into the 1977 24 Hours of Le Mans, but all four retired with engine issues. Chassis 4422 actually made it the furthest into the race, completing 289 laps. 

In 1978, Renault entered two original A442s (now known as the A442A), one updated A442B with a new bubble canopy, and one new A443 – essentially an A442 but with a new engine. Renault now believes that it is chassis 4423 that was the car driven to outright victory by Didier Pironi and Jean-Pierre Jaussaud, but a chap named Pierre Abeillon – a judge at many events including the Goodwood Festival of Speed – apparently collected lots of rivet pattern evidence to prove that this car (4422) was the actual winner. Got to love a handbuilt racecar, haven’t you? Renault says that this car is missing a bracket welded to the chassis that was present on the A442B and A443.

All a bit of a mystery, isn’t it? Anyway, this is the only A442 in private hands and was previously displayed in the Musee de l’Automobiliste in Mougins, France for over 25 years. It has now been fully restored and is in working condition, though, so whoever pays the £3.4m - £4.25m estimate best get out there and drive it. Just tell yourself you’re sat in a Le Mans winner and that’s all that matters…

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Images: RM Sotheby's

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