FEB 05th 2015

Cars that rock Retromobile: Alpines old and new

Just as any British classic car event wouldn’t be complete without a sprinkling of MGs and Aston Martins, a strong spread of Alpine-Renaults at a French exhibition is de rigueur.

Alpine is a sacred marque to French sports car fans, and the first day of the 40th anniversary Retromobile didn’t disappoint them, with examples of these Dieppe-built nimble sportsers scattered around the vast hall at Porte de Versailles in Paris.

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The Alpine legend was built primarily on the rallying success of the later Berlinette models, the A108 and A110, the latter taking the World Rallying Constructors’ title in 1973 for the small Dieppe firm, admittedly backed by the might of Renault. Subsequent victory for Alpine in the 1978 Le Mans 24 Hours also helped its credentials.

Sixty years on, the marque enjoys real cult status in its homeland, despite the last Alpine-branded model – the endearing A610 – being built 20 years ago. This is soon set to change though.

The wild Alpine Vision Gran Turismo concept barchetta we revealed here last week made its public world debut at Retromobile today, giving a strong hint as to the appearance of an all-new Alpine production model, set to revive the brand sometime soon.

Inspiration for the Vision Gran Turismo was clearly evident in the many Alpine A110 Berlinettes in rally and race trim found at every turn at Retromobile. All the more intriguing then that Renault itself chose not to display an A110 on its own sizable exhibition stand. Rather, it flanked the Vision concept with two earlier examples of the marque, an A106 and A108.

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To the Vision’s left was the delightful 1955 A106 coupé, the first model made under the Alpine brand name, the marque being ‘officially’ founded on 25th June 1955 by Jean Redele, a successful racer and Renault dealer in the coastal port town of Dieppe.

The A108 Berlinette on the right was an unusual and ultra-rare example, being a Willys Interlagos, built under a Renault license in Brazil in the mid-1960s, as campaigned by local racing luminaries in period such as Emerson Fittipaldi. With historical inspiration like this, I for one can’t wait to see the new Alpine production sport car.

Photography: Tom Shaxson

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