The truth of the matter is that without the provenance of the brand as developed over the 62 years of its time with us, we’d likely care very much less. Alpine is a much-loved marque and though dormant for the past 20 odd years, that love never went away. It just goes to show, glory endures.
What glory? Try a win at Le Mans in 1978 and numerous successes in rallying, including with this wondrous little machine. It’s an Alpine Renault A110-B rallycross car from 1975. It’s an enduring reminder of the harshness of motorsport. It’s a slice of Alpine at its finest. It’s a reflection of the new car with regard to that nurturing relationship with Renault, and, further to that, it’s one of the taproots for what we now know as Renault Sport.
It began its career in 1975 with a very clearly defined purpose. Vialle Autogas – a company specializing in LPG fuel systems – wanted to take advantage of the impressive television coverage some rallycross rounds were enjoying at the time. It sponsored a four-car team for the Dutch, Belgian and German rounds in 1977, and the Belgian, French, British and German rounds in 1978. A curious smattering of entries, all handpicked for their TV exposure. This was an open and shut advertising exercise. The team performed well, with this car taking first in Holland in 1977, and Belgium and Germany (a 1,2,3 for the team!) in 1978 with ace Pier Krythof at the wheel.
Weighing in at just under 700 kilograms, the Alpine was much lighter than fierce rivals Stratos and 911 and thus put its slightly lower power output to good use in all conditions. It was nimble and eager – attributes we’re all hoping that the 2017 rebirth will be flush with. What about that engine? It’s a DOHC 1.8 Renault-Gordini Type 807-G4 that kicked out 200bhp at 8,000 rpm. Renault-Gordini, of course, eventually became Renault Sport. At the end of the 1978 season, Vialle called time, deciding that the job of the team had been done. They’d competed, they’d done well and the brand had got the exposure it had needed. Such is the savagery of the corporate side of motorsport.