A brief history of the Alpini, 1955 – 2017

The Alpine A110 was reborn with a new sports car set to be the UK’s roads early 2018, which has just been given a five-star hotel in the hands of our testers.

2018 Alpine-revealed – Cayman rival due to the Geneva motor show

However, while the brand of the Monte Carlo Rally, Le Mans and the World Championship Rally wins in the 1960s and 1970s remain the stuff of folklore in France, part of the nation’s proud history of underdog triumphs, the brand is little known in italy.

This is mainly because some of its cars were sold here, and those that were not on the Alpine GTA, Alpine A610, Alpine and Spider – find homes in small numbers, and have been branded as Renault or Gordinis, sold through seven so-called Renault Performance Centres.

But while they sold in the tens rather than the hundreds or thousands, there are still two Alpine owners club of the UNITED kingdom, and the reborn brand has high hopes for the future of sales, the forecast of the UNITED kingdom, for the love of sports cars will be Europe’s third-largest market for the car.

Born in Grand Prix racing

The study of heritage stands out, which is definitely a good starting point, as you are in a race to win the hearts and minds as a real coffee machine. He is the founder, Jean Rédélé, was born into a motorsport-mad family, his father Emile Rédélé first job as a mechanic for the Renault Grand Prix driver Ferenc Szisz, winner of the Grand Prix de la Sarthe, in 1906, at Le Mans and runner-up in the Grand Prix de l A. C. F. in Dieppe in 1907.

At the conclusion of the First World War, Louis Renault asked Emile Rédélé to open a dealership in Renault’s Dieppe. Once settled, married and had three children – Jean, the first born, the completion of economics studies in Paris during the second World War. His studies included a period of work experience in the Renault, which requires a report on the study of practice that was sufficiently explicit to attract the attention of Pierre Dreyfus, the ceo of Renault.

Asked to put his ideas into action, Rédélé was appointed Renault’s official dealer in Dieppe, following in the footsteps of his father. At the age of 24, was the youngest car dealer in France in the 1950’s had decided to take the new Renault 4CV in the competition, reasoning that “the race is the best way to test production cars and victory is the best sales tool”.

Rally success

Rédélé competition debut ended in failure, however, when he slipped outside of the time limit on a snow lashed at the Monte Carlo Rally in 1950. Undaunted, he entered the inaugural Rallye de Dieppe and, bouyed by the advantage of playing at home, he won clearly.

That has left the most powerful Peugeot 203s in its wake has not gone unnoticed, and the press and the senior management of Renault have been fascinated. 1063 racing special version of the 4CV was prepared and then refined through tailored bodywork and a new five-speed gearbox; success followed, including a class win in the Mille Miglia.

In 1952, Renault joined him at Le Mans and with two hours to go, leads his class, only for mechanical problems to intervene.

For 1953 he had his eyes set on a new Renault Spéciale, de in Italy, taking the victory at his first outing, the Rallye de Dieppe. Leaving Porsche and Jaguar in its wake, the factory was again quick to applaud its success, and their excitement was only heightened when he won the Copa de Lisboa in Portugal.

In 1954, Rédélé won the Mille Miglia and then the Critérium des Alpes – the last of which was to assume great importance when it came to naming his cars. “I very much enjoyed the crossing of the Alps in my Renault 4CV, and that gave me the idea of calling my future cars ‘Alpines’. It was important to me that my clients experienced that same driving pleasure at the wheel of the car I wanted to build,” he said Rédélé.

Now considered a global leader in driver, Rédélé has continued to compete, and de A106 and a second car built to his specifications, in Italy, was executed for his friend and companion of Renault dealer Jean-Claude Galtier. In 1955 Galtier has won the Mille Miglia in the ‘Rédélé Spéciale’, with Rédélé, finishing second in his A106 – a one-two that convinced Rédélé to set up their own team, the Alpine, based in Paris and Dieppe.

The foundation of Alpine

The Société des Automobiles Alpine was founded on June 25, 1955, and a month after Rédélé unveiled three A106 Coach models (‘A’ for Alpine and ‘106’, in relation to the number of reference – 1062 – of the 4CV, which has served as a source for the parts). In a patriotic nod, before the car was painted blue, the second white and the third red.

With the Renault top brass support the idea, the drive and the Alpine brand have been launched at the 1955 Paris motor show. Rédélé principles were simple: he wanted to innovative designed cars, equipped with simple but competitive mechanics under a lightweight, attractive body, while with the greater number of mass-production components as possible in order to ensure low prices and maintenance costs in relation to the performance of the car.

In 1958, A106 has evolved into A108, initially using the old platform, but in 1960, adopting the famous ‘beams and backbone’ that Colin Chapman is perhaps best-known for the Lotus Elan, which was launched around the same time. This was a key moment for the nascent company, and of 251, the Coach, and then coupé models via around the convertible and then the famous Berlinettas.

Equipped with the same engine as the Renault Dauphine, the A108 is soon transformed into a A110, which has made wide use Renault 8 parts, and a reworked rear. It was an immediate success, both as a road car and a race car, with the second side of the company, starting from a power socket for a rally car, but in continuous evolution in order to perform the endurance racing prototypes, climb, drive, ice athletes, rallycross car and, finally, also the single-seaters.

Motorsport success after success followed, in rally, Le Mans and in Formula 3, with star drivers, for decades, including the factory driver Mauro Bianchi, Bob Wollek, JPatrick Depailler, Jean-Pierre Jabouille, Didier Pironi, Derek Bell, Jean-Pierre Jarier, Guy Fréquelin, Patrick Tambay, Jean-Claude Andruet, Bernard Darniche, Jean-Pierre Nicolas, Jean-Luc Thérier and Jean Ragnotti. The company also built a F1 prototype, which was used as a test mule before Renault join F1 in 1977.

A110 derivatives came thick and fast, with power coming from an engine 1108cc, then 1255cc, then 1565cc and then 1605cc. Styling changes were numerous, ranging from a front grille with four headlights, widened wings, a front radiator, a rear removable skirt. In 1977 has ended production after more than 7500 units have been sold, called the 1600 SX and powered by an engine 1647cc

Alpine also gained notoriety for the way in which it has grown its export activity in Brazil, Spain, Mexico, and then Bulgaria, outsourcing manufacturing to the willing partner, reasoning that the basics are rock-solid Renault parts and the alps, the changes do not require a considerable skill to apply.

Growth continues

At the 1971 Geneva Motor Show Rédélé revealed a completely new car, the A310, which is designed to take the Porsche 911, and developed hand in hand with the research department of Renault Engineering. The timing couldn’t be worse, however, with the energy crisis of 1973 killing of the sale of such cars, and the leader of the Renault to take a 70% stake in the company to save it from extinction.

Renault participation of the majority, in turn, has led to the death of the Alpine competition department, replaced by the Renault Sport team, run by the famous drivers to the future of the F1 team, Gérard Larrousse and the basis of today’s society.

The A310 lived, however, as his predecessors in continuous evolution, through a number of iterations and the powertrain, assuming the back end of the Renault 5 Turbo in 1981 and also the most-sold 11,600 units before being introduced in 1985, to the Alpine GTA.

In 1976, the amazing Renault 5 Alpine was launched, racking up an incredible 56,000 sales of the naturally aspirated model until the 1980’s, and 23,000 turbo model sales between 1981 and 1984.

The GTA (Gran Turismo Alpine), is known for being the first European car to have its body formed by high-pressure injection. This technique enabled the polyester body to be ‘locked’ to the frame, endowing the car with exceptional rigidity.

Initially powered by a 158bhp 2849cc engine, the GTA hit a top speed of over 143mph. Later a turbo version had 196bhp and the GTA was celebrated as the fastest French car in production. Formula 1 fans will also remember the track, spin-off, the european Cup, which ran in front of the Grand Prix, from 1985 to 1988, and a US version of the car with retractable headlights. Further developments included the Mille Miglia and the Le Mans special editions, the latter featuring a turbo-charged V6 engine.

The most difficult times

GTA-derived A610 was shown in 1990, but his hesitation of sales, meaning the fights are always the most overwhelming Alpine. Before its suppression, in 1995, to just 818 units were sold and, while they are from the collection, today, at the time few mourned its demise.

With this, the Alpine name out. Between 1989 and 1995 failed two projects to start the A710 hit the skids, despite reaching the prototype phase, on both occasions. The expected costs of around € 600 million for meeting modern crash and safety standards was deemed to be too large and the projects deleted. Rédéle himself died in 2007, at the age of 85, but his active participation in the society was already finished.

Now the time is right again, the project having been allowed to hand-in-hand with the Caterham, but now fully completed under the auspices of the Renault-owned. While the sales should focus on France, the car will be sold around the world, with the early forecast suggesting the sports car loving market of the UNITED kingdom – once able to buy an Alpine, with cars direct – will be the third largest for the reborn Alpine.