Few men can have started a motor company with such a clear vision of producing cars that would be aimed at competition. Few can have had as much success as Jean Redele with the Alpines he created. To have won the World Rally Championship and the Le Mans 24 hour race within 24 years of starting the company was a remarkable achievement. To have the vehicles he produced considered a national icon with an international reputation is nothing short of outstanding.
In the 1950’s Jean Redele competed in rallies with a Renault 4CV and he immediately looked at ways to improve the cars performance and his chances of winning. He used a format that was to become characteristic of all Alpine Renault cars, a lightweight body and a tuned rear mounted engine driving the rear wheels. The fact that the 4CV, Renault Dauphine and the Renault 8 all used rear mounted engines was the key to Jean Redele's designs. His first model was the A106 launched in 1955, this was followed by the A108, the first to use a backbone chassis, and forerunner of the most famous of Redele’s cars the A110 “Berlinette”. Announced in 1962 using Renault 8 mechanicals it developed, with the aid of Gordini and Mignotet engines, into the World Rally Championship winning car of 1973. Manufacture of the A110 continued until 1977.
Alpine was the official competition arm of Renault and when in 1974 the fuel crisis hit motor manufacturers hard, particularly those producing high powered sports cars, Renault stepped in and took over Alpine completely with the name changing from Alpine Renault to Renault Alpine. By 1977 Alpine started producing more luxurious GT cars namely the A310 using mainly the V6 PRV (Peugeot,Renault,Volvo) engine and this was followed in 1985 by the GTA (Grand Tourisme Alpine) in both 2.8 litre V6 carburettor and 2.5 V6 turbo charged engine forms along with a special wide bodied 'Le Man's' model of which only 26 were imported into the U.K. and their final model the 3.0 litre V6 A610 commenced production in 1990 and ceased production in 1995.
Although the Dieppe factory ceased the production of Alpine's it was still used produce such iconic cars as the Renault 5 Turbo 1 and Turbo 2 cars and later the Renault Spider followed by the Clio V6 and a long line of other RenaultSport cars.
Alpines had one difficulty when it came to selling cars in Britain. The name “Alpine”, which Redele chose because of his success in the Coupe des Alpes rally, was owned in Britain by the Rootes group, having been used on a much earlier Sunbeam-Talbot.
The only Alpines officially sold in Britain in right hand drive form were the Renault GTA's of which some 550 were imported and the A610 of which only 67 were imported the latter bearing the famous trademark ”flying A” in the Intercooler Grill.
The Alpine factory on Avenue de Bréauté in Dieppe now continues the long and successful Alpine tradition with the launch and manufacture of the new Alpine A110. The factory has seen an extensive refit, has been enlarged and the workforce increased by some 90 employees to cater for the demand for the new A110.
The A110 was launched at the 87th Geneva International Motor Show in March 2017, boasting a 1.8 litre turbo charged in line 4 cylinder engine that puts out some 248 BHP and 236 lb-ft of torque giving it acceleration of 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) in 4.5 seconds, and has an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph).
The car went on sale in the UK in 2018 and to date some 477 have been built for sale worldwide. The car has received many accolades including one from James May of Top Gear fame who commented after a test drive in the car, “the Alpine A110 has 248 BHP, weighs the square root of diddly and is the greatest thing to come out of France since the Mouli Cheese Grater…!”
You can find out much more about the individual Alpine models under 'The Cars heading on this web site.