The Renault-Alpine A110 may be diminutive in its proportions but it has a massive and deserved reputation, particularly in its native France. Although wearing the Renault badge, this pocket rocket is a testimony to the focused dedication of one man—Jean Redélé, a passionate motor sport enthusiast and son of a Dieppe Renault agent.
As he took over his father’s garage he began to modify Renault products for competition, then develop his own machines based on Renault engines and mechanicals. The A110, with its fiberglass body and backbone chassis, was the culmination of his effort, and from its launch in 1963 it went on to rack up a huge list of victories in the world’s toughest rallies. On the public roads, it had all the appeal of a thinly disguised racer, as nimble as a mountain goat, with sparkling performance and just about the most fun you could have this side of a Lancia Stratos.
Squat, nimble, and slightly splayfooted on its wide tires, the Alpine looks purposeful from any angle. Climb into that tight cockpit and you soon feel part of the car; start it up and there is a delicious barrage of noise. On the move, the sting in the Alpine’s tail is exhilarating as it buzzes behind you like an angry insect.
A short-lived 2+2 version never had the sporty attraction of the Berlinette.
It is a compact little package just 44.5 in (1.16 m) high, 60 in (1.5 m) wide, and 151.5 in (3.85 m) in length.
Competition versions had engine covers fixed slightly open to aid cooling.
The steering is light and the grip limpetlike, but when it does let go that tail wags the dog in a big way. Its singular appearance remained intact through its production life, with only detail changes to the trim, which these days is rare.
Myriad engine options mirrored Renault’s offerings, but in Alpine tune—by Gordini or Mignotet—it really flew. First models used Dauphine engines, progressing through R8 and R16 to R12. This 1967 car sports the 1442cc unit. Engines were slung behind the rear axle, with drive taken to the gearbox in front of the axle.
External cutout switches are a competition requirement, allowing outsiders to switch off the engine to prevent fire in an accident. The Alpine’s are on the rear fender.
INSIDE THE CAR
Instrument layout is typical of sports cars of the period, and the stubby gearshift is handily placed for ease of operation. Examples built for road rather than race use lacked the racing seats but were better trimmed and were still fun cars to drive. Getting in and out was not easy though, because of the low roofline and high skills.
Cars were known at first as Alpine-Renaults, then became Renault-Alpines as Renault influence grew.
Even though only a little over 8,000 A110s were built, they were assembled in Spain, Mexico, Brazil, and Bulgaria, as well as France.
Alpines were sold through Renault dealers—with Renault warranty— from 1969 onward.
S P E C I F I C A T I O N S
MODEL Renault-Alpine A110 Berlinette (1963–77)
BODY STYLE Two-seater sports coupe.
CONSTRUCTION Fiberglass body integral with tubular steel backbone chassis.
ENGINES Various four-cylinders of 956 to 1796cc.
POWER OUTPUT 51–66 bhp (956cc) to 170 bhp (1796cc)
TRANSMISSION Four- and five-speed manual, rear-wheel drive.
SUSPENSION Coil springs all around. Front: upper/lower control arms; Rear: trailing radius arms & swing-axles.
BRAKES Four-wheel discs.
MAXIMUM SPEED 132 mph (212 km/h) (1595cc)
0–60 MPH (0–96 KM/H) 8.7 sec (1255cc), 10 sec (1442cc)
A.F.C. 27 mpg (7.6 km/l) (1296cc)