In the past, car sport meant more in all its forms than it is today.
Today it is a big and serious business with less and less real racing passion and track struggles, while in the golden days of motoring development racing was everything. Without huge budgets, computers and space technology, the racers relied solely on the car, their skill, their mechanic (if they had one) and the affection of the goddess Fortune, whose smile meant victory or defeat, life or death. In such conditions, the cars that were most successful received legendary status, due to their undoubted qualities and a winning aura that differentiated them from the competition. One of the cars that earned its place among the stars in the mud, dust and macadam of rally tracks around the world is Renault Alpine A110. Given that the history of this small but legendary factory is completely unknown, something more needs to be said about the very beginnings of this manufactory of racial sports machines. Alpine was founded by Jean Redele, owner of several Parisian garages, who competed at the amateur level in the early 4s. Using the Renault XNUMXCV Dauphine, which he thoroughly reworked in his garage, he won several important competitions (Mille Miglia), which attracted a lot of attention.
Encouraged by track success and customer demands for revised versions, Redele founded, in 1954, the Societe Anonyme des Automobiles Alpine, in honor of his victory at the Coupe des Alpes. However, at the time, forty kilometers of La Manche Channel seemed to be too great an obstacle, and Redele was unaware that just a year earlier the British Sunbeam had introduced a model of the same name, the Alpine, and protected the rights to the name, so name problems began immediately. which will accompany Mr. Redel's house until its very completion in 1994. Regardless of the initial problems, the development of its own creations based on Renault 4CV begins. The first A106 was created in collaboration with the Chappe brothers, pioneers of fiberglass body construction. The next model A108 from 1958 already had a distinctive shape whose lines were the work of the famous Italian designer Michelotti.
When Renault introduced the R8, a compact sedan, in 1962, Redele took over the model platform and, with minor changes to the body and mechanics, created a new model. The new car was named the Alpine A110 Berlinette Tour de France, following the triumph of the race of the same name. Although under the lightweight plastic body, it was basically the R8, the Alpine was fitted with important accessories such as disc brakes, body reinforcements, gas dampers and light metal wheels. The drive was a production engine from Renault, with 956 cc and 51 hp, slightly refined in its own direction. Different differential ratios were initially offered, which, given the low weight of the vehicle (about 730 kg), resulted in good performance. Like the Renault, the engine and drive were in the back of the vehicle. Immediately after its introduction, in early 1963, a constant improvement work began.
As the car participated and won the races, so the development progressed and already next year begins production of models with a tubular chassis and a slightly lower body (112 cm). That pace continued until 1968 when the 1,440 cubic meters and 124 hp of the Renault R8 Gordini began, with which Alpine became a really fast car. That year, the company received Renault's entire competition budget and, with such support, "terrorized" competition in all the routes in the world, and even on circular tracks. These models were slightly lighter (about 710 kg) thanks to body modifications. However, although at the top, there was still room for advancement, so in 1971 the model was introduced with an engine of 1,796 cc and 170-180 hp. This unit was a derivative of a series engine from the Renault R16, which was further refined at Alpine workshops.
During this period, the A 110 enters the zenith of its racing career as the most extreme and fastest variations of this model appear on the track. As the best example of how far it went, it was a 42kg body with five layers of plastic. The versions that had the greatest success in those years (among other things, two consecutive years, 1,2,3 wins at the Monte Carlo Rally) had a body of only one layer of fiberglass and a weight of barely 14 kg, while the whole car had barely 620 kg! In practice, it was often the case that, because of engine temperature, the panels distorted and melted, and many cars ended the race without body parts, as can be seen in the recordings from that period! In addition, the lower unit and engine were further modified, which added significantly to performance.
However, with the acquisition of circumstances, after 1973, at the height of fame and success, this model began to yield. The energy crisis affecting sales, the financial problems of the factory and the takeover by Renault, as well as the waking competition, have caused the A110 to slowly begin to withdraw from the eyes of the global automotive public. Production will continue until 1977, but racing success will be less frequent. Although best known for its success in rally competitions, this model was also dangerous on the street in the hands of many enthusiasts. The relatively large, but exactly unknown number of copies produced (about 7,000 pieces) was mostly realized at its parent factory in the suburbs of Paris, as well as in workshops assembling cars in Spain, Mexico, Brazil (Renault Interlagos) and, most interestingly, in Bulgaria. Namely, around 1970, 20 copies were made in Bulgaria and were used for competitions in the country and abroad and another 80 copies for road use (Bulgaralpine).
As far as we know, there was only one copy used by the well-known ex-Yu runner, Jovica Paliković, with varying success on the track. Today, all Alpine cars are highly regarded and often seen in old-timer racing, where they are still dominant. Following this car, the famous Lancia Stratos arrived on the tracks, which was supposedly constructed just to finally break the dominance of this model. In any case, it is a car that practically created a rally sport and has long been one of the best racing machines in the world. Still, the value of this car is far greater than the mere sum of money. Specifically, the Renault Alpine A110 is one of the few cars (with the Mini Morris i Ford Escort) who created the rally sport as we know it today.
In addition to defining a class that has been in constant expansion all these years, this model has been an important part of his career for many, later well-known names in motoring. The values he distinguished and the victories he absolutely deserved speak in favor of Jean Redele's vision and the quality of this car, which guarantee him a prominent place in the history of motoring…
Author: 426 Hemi
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