Renault-Alpine Manufacturer Profile & Rally History

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Renault-Alpine Home Country: France France

Alpine soon fell under full Renault ownership, Alpine was under full Renault ownership when they won the first WRC title ever. This title as all points were credited to owner Renault. And the entire Alpine motorsport history is closely linked to that of Renault. So please refer to Renault for more information on Alpine in rallying.

The Alpine brand was the creation of a rally driver using Renault cars: Jean Rédélé. One of Rédélé's biggest successes was coming 2nd on the Alpine Rallye 1954 in a Renault 4CV. And as a fan of this rally and region, this is indeed why Alpine was his chosen brand name. Because of his successes in Renault cars, Rédélé had very good contacts to Renault. When Jean Rédélé created the Alpine brand, he built sporty cars, usually with plastic shells over an alloy frame and he always used Renault road car technology for his cars. Although built as sporty road cars, for being such light constructions there is little surprise already his first cars, the Alpine A106 & A108 were used in motorsports. The biggest story by far was the A110. However when the A110 was replaced by the A310, Alpine lost what they originally were all about. The A310 was not at all a bad car, but in contrary to the A110 it was big and heavy and the use of a V6 engine later only seemed to make the A310 heavier rather than faster.

In all that it is very difficult to trace where these model names came from. The first car, the A106 was technically based on the Renault 4CV which at Renault had the internal development code 1060 and apparently that is why Rédélé called it the A106. This however is not the case on the A108 & A110. Maybe these were indeed just following a sequence. There was actually an A107 prototype as A106 replacement, but it never reached production, then came the A108, but there never was an A109. And the A310, although by Alpine designed to be the A110 replacement, obviously did not follow that sequence. Maybe it was another sequence, as in the meantime Alpine had a successful race car called the A210 (predecessor to the Le Mans winning A441/442/443 series). On the road and therefore as rally base the A310 was a lot heavier than the A110 and therefore lost a bit of the Alpine pedigree. By 1986 it was replaced by the A610 (at first on some markets called the GTA). Now did the 6 mean V6? The A310 was already available as a V6 (interestingly the engine known from the Safari proven Peugeot 504 Coupé V6 and also found in large Volvos). The A610 now featured a turbo charged version of this V6 and in its last versions it had up to 276BHP, so now at long last the car was as fast as it always looked. That said the A610 looked very much like a washed down facelift of the A310, so while now at long last the power was OK, the design was not. Although a 1991 facelift (without changing the A610 name, which maybe was a mistake given the A610/GTA's bad start) helped matters quite a bit, sales figures remained disappointing and so Renault dropped the Alpine name in 1995.

In a very late development, after years of silence around Alpine, it seems Renault has plans to revive the Alpine name again. At the time of writing this, it is only a rumour. However it is incredible that all those historic years the Alpine company was not actually the rights holder to the Alpine name. Alpine was also a model name for Talbot, but Talbot was so friendly and never argued with them using that name. Well, for fans of curiosities, Talbot chose the Alpine name for several successes on this same rally!!!! - Two brands, one name, one idea, and all for rallying and its (former?) marketing potential. And in this context, despite the similarities in the names, note that French Renault Alpine is pronounced “Alpeen”, while English Sunbeam Alpine is pronounced the English way. Only in 2007 Renault bought the Alpine name from Talbot owner Peugeot and registered it as a brand name! Guess this story may be continued!

Chassis numbers: Strange, for the chapters "colours & tyres" and "registrations" I refer you to the Renault story, but Renault does not have a chassis add on. To be honest I have hardly any chassis or build numbers for Renault, just a note here that the case of the Alpines is similar to that found on the Stratos (end of Lancia story). It is a specialist road car made in small numbers. In the case of the A110 at least chassis numbers are tiny 5-digit ones with the rally car chassis taken straight of the production as they came along. It may give you some picture, even if not a clear one. Actually while writing this I am still not sure if I am going to display any Alpine chassis numbers with their regs at all. Just as one example the famous Monte 1973 line up: Chassis 18270 = 8693 HG 76 (Andruet), 18271 = 8695 HG 76 (Thérier), 18290 = 8691 HG 76 (Andersson), 18291 = 8692 HG 76 (Darniche) & 18292 = 8694 HG 76 (Nicolas). It seems the cars were taken/built in two batches but all registered at once. Actually the order of registration numbers (which is sequential in many countries) may even give you the better picture. I.e. after HG is HH, HJ, HK... next works Alpine to be registered is 1298 HK 76 = chassis 18367.

Renault-Alpine Rally Cars

Model Class
Renault-Alpine Renault-Alpine A110  Group 4
Renault-Alpine Renault-Alpine A110  Group 3
Renault-Alpine Renault-Alpine A110  Group 4
Renault-Alpine Renault-Alpine A310  Group 4