Gallery: the cars of Alpine
The new Alpine Vision sportscar has landed. Here are its road-going predecessors
Alpine’s founder Jean Rédélé was a Renault dealer. He moved into motorsports in 1950, campaigning a highly modified then-new Renault 4CV in rallies aplenty. He was not unsuccessful, but decided that what the 4CV (pictured) needed to make it faster still was a lightweight, aerodynamic body. So, Rédélé commissioned Giovanni Michelotti, designer of many Ferraris, the BMW 2002 and, erm, Triumph Herald, to build him one. The result would eventually become the very first Alpine road car, the oft-forgotten A106.Advertisement - Page continues below
It took a couple of years for Alpine to build a roadgoing version of the A106. It first materialized at the 1957 Paris Motor Show, where it was joined by a prototype cabriolet that would pave the way for Alpine’s next car, the A108. Powered by a 747cc Renault engine with as much as 42bhp, Alpine only churned out 250-odd 106s between 1955 and ’59. Not its best-known car, and by some margin.
Looks a bit more familiar, no? Based on the Renault Dauphine, rather than the older but just as rear-engined 4CV, the 108 shared a load of components with its predecessor. The 108 ‘GT4’ was more advanced. A bit like the Lotus Elan, it had a kind-of steel backbone chassis, with cradles at either end for the oily bits. This setup would underpin Alpines until the late Seventies.Advertisement - Page continues below
Using components from the Renault R8, and built around the same type of chassis that underpinned the GT4, the A110 won Alpine its first and only World Rally Championship in 1973. Responsible for the majority of Alpine’s motorsport successes, it’s maybe the brand’s best-known car, with a little over 7,500 made between 1961 and 1977.
First shown at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show, the A310 was a bit of a departure for Alpine. It was still building, and continued to build even after the A310 was introduced, cars which could trace their roots all the way back the early Sixties. The fuel crisis dented sales a bit, but the A310 was still Alpine’s best seller, with over 11,600 sold before production ended in 1985. It could be had with a 140bhp four-cylinder, or a marginally more powerful, but heavier V6. Some competitive success was had.
The GTA, the first car released by Alpine under total Renault ownership, replaced the A310 in ‘84/85. It had polyester body panels, an impressively low drag coefficient and, so equipped with the turbocharged version of its 2.8-litre V6, was the fastest French car of its day. It became the A610 with a 1990 facelift.
It’s back. The mid-engined Vision will take on the Porsche Cayman when it eventually goes on sale, looking maybe 80 per cent like this rather attractive concept. Read the full story here.Advertisement - Page continues below