History of the Alpine Brand - 2 From Alpine to Alpine Renault

History of the Alpine Brand - 2 From Alpine to Alpine Renault

08.03.2021: IV. FROM ALPINE TO ALPINE RENAULT Alpine’s burgeoning success, spawned by the Berlinette A110, forced Jean Rédélé to create a second production unit in Thiron-Gardais. Jean Rédélé found himself faced with an increase in Berlinette



Alpine’s burgeoning success, spawned by the Berlinette A110, forced Jean Rédélé to create a second production unit in Thiron-Gardais.

Jean Rédélé found himself faced with an increase in Berlinette orders that his avenue Pasteur workshop was unable to handle. The upshot was that the factory in Thiron-Gardais began to produce assembled chassis and car bodies, painted and marked ‘A110’ before being transferred by truck to Dieppe where the mechanical elements were added. Led by a colleague in Dieppe, Daniel Vue, this unit was operational until it was taken over by Renault.

At the same time as this increase in production capacity, Jean Rédélé had imagined a completely new car: the A310, presented at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show. This car, designed by Jean Rédélé himself, was intended to establish the brand in the arena of sports cars and grand touring vehicles. Maintaining the traditional 2.27-metre wheelbase (as on the Porsche 911), this car was a success of aesthetical balance, and Jean Rédélé founded a new factory especially for it, on avenue de Bréauté, Dieppe.

The A310 and the new Dieppe factory, however, would become victims of the fuel crisis of 1973 and suffered a significant drop in sales.

That said, the A310 underwent regular evolutions and found its customer base. After the four-cylinder, 140hp, 1605cc engine of 1971, fuel injection was added in 1974, and then, from September 1976, it was equipped with the V6, 150hp, 2700cc powerplant taken from the Renault 30 TS.

In 1981, it gained the rear end of the new Renault 5 Turbo. After more than 11,600 units had been produced (2,340 of the four-cylinder version and 9,287 of the V6 version), the A310 gracefully bowed out to make way for the new GTA in 1985.

In the meantime, the Renault 5 Alpine had been successfully launched. Some 56,000 units of the naturally-aspirated version were produced between 1976 and 1980, followed by 23,000 turbo models from 1981 to 1984.

The new GTA (Grand Tourisme Alpine) was very innovative in its production process. This technique enabled the polyester body to be ‘bonded’ to the chassis, thereby endowing the car with exceptional rigidity.

Beyond that key technological innovation, the car featured a record low drag coefficient (CdA), plus fuel-efficient performance in absolute comfort. Initially equipped with a 2849cc engine producing 160hp, the GTA hit a top speed of more than 230kph. Several months later, a turbo version appeared on the market. It boasted 200hp and enabled the GTA – the fastest French car in production – to be labelled by the press a ‘fighter jet for the road’.

The car gave birth to two rare versions. First, there was the ‘Europa Cup’ (not approved for road use), which competed in ‘curtain-raiser’ races at Formula 1 Grands Prix between 1985 and 1988 (69 examples produced). Then, there was the ‘US’ version with retractable headlights, designed for export to the USA as part of a commercial and industrial agreement with ‘American Motors’, an American subsidiary of Renault.

In 1989, the ‘Mille Miles’ version – in recognition of Jean Rédélé’s earliest victorious Alpines – was offered as a numbered limited edition (100 examples). Then, in 1990, the ‘Le Mans’ version – another tribute, this time to Alpine’s triumphs in Le Mans 24 Hours – appeared with a more environmentally-friendly V6 Turbo engine.

In 1990, the A610 was made available to European sporting clients with a 2963cc turbo engine. An excellent touring car, it benefitted from dynamic performance worthy of praise and was received in just such a manner by a unanimous press. However, it struggled slightly to find its niche market. Despite the special ‘Magny-Cours’ edition, it disappeared from the range at the end of 1995 following the production of 818 units.

Jean Rédélé always kept his faith in Renault. Thanks to this close relationship, the cars produced in Dieppe were called Alpine Renaults from the end of 1967 when Jean Rédélé’s brand was tasked with officially representing Renault in motorsport.

From that point on, Alpine cars sported the Renault diamond on their bonnet, and the economic links between the two companies became increasingly close. Finally, in 1973, those links were materialised when Renault acquired a 70 per cent majority share in Alpine. Henceforth, ‘Nouvelle Société Alpine’ was run as a public limited company with a board of directors and a supervisory board.


After two efforts in the USA and then in Belgium – where several ‘Coach’ models were assembled in Herstal – Jean Rédélé decided to ramp things up a notch.

He understood that the future would be about internationalisation and was conscious that his business – not yet supported or relied upon by the powerful Renault management – didn’t have the financial means to create and develop an export network with ‘official importers’. Rather than exporting, therefore, he proposed an industrial project to his partners.

The first target was Brazil, and an agreement was quickly reached with Willys-Overland do Brasil, who already produced Dauphines under a Renault licence. From 1960, A108 Berlinettes, coupés and convertibles built using equipment from Dieppe left workshops in Sao Paulo under the name ‘Interlagos’, after the famous Brazilian motor racing circuit there. The contract lasted for six years and allowed for the production of more than a thousand sports cars.

The second country targeted was Spain. Jean Rédélé made contact with FASA (Fabricación de Automóviles Sociedad Anónima), a motoring organisation that similarly produced Dauphines under licence in Spain. Almost two thousand Alpine FASAs were produced in Valladolid from 1964 to 1978.

Buoyed by these successes, Jean Rédélé then approached the Mexican company, Dina, which had also just signed a contract with Renault to produce the Renault 8. Thus, from 1963, the Dinalpin was produced in the suburbs of Mexico City. The collaboration ended in 1971 after 700 cars had been produced.

One final attempt – this time at Renault's request – took place in Bulgaria. Renault 8s were produced in a factory in Plovdiv, which Renault owned in partnership with the Bulgarian government. Certain Bulgarian leaders desired a national sports car, and from that desire was born the Bulgaralpine, of which around 50 units were produced in the late 1960s.

In every country in which they were produced, Alpines raced and won in the hands of champions of the calibre of Emerson Fittipaldi (driving an Interlagos), who would go on to win the F1 World Champion title and the Indy 500, future World Rally Champion Carlos Sainz (Alpine FASA), the East European Champion Ilia Tchubrikov (Bulgaralpine), etc.

- Christophe Deville - photos Groupe Renault Communication

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/history-alpine-brand-to-renault---220137.html

08.03.2021 / MaP

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