The Renault Alpine A110 was produced from 1961 through 1978. It was considered to be one of the strongest rally vehicles of its time. In 1971 Alpine achieved a 1st, 2nd and 3rd win in the Monte Carlo rally using cars with engines derived from the Renault R16. In 1973, they repeated the 1, 2, 3 Monte Carlo result and went on to win the World Rally championship outright, beating Porsche, Lancia and Ford.
Societé des Automobiles Alpine was founded by Jean Rédélé in the early 1950s and the first Alpine, the “Coach A106” built on the floorpan of the Renault 4CV, was presented in July 1955. The A108 Cabriolet appeared in 1957 and was the first implementation of the backbone chassis structure, it is not a tubular spaceframe, that was carried through all subsequent Alpines. The A108 Coupé followed in 1959 and the A108 Berlinette appeared in September 1960. The Reanult Alpine A110 Berlinette came along in 1962 as did the A110 GT4 2+2 variant and in 1968 Jean Rédélé made an accord with Renault for distribution of Alpines through the Renault dealership.
Most Alpine A110 Berlinettes were built in Dieppe, France by Société des Automobiles Alpine. Variants were also built under licence in Bulgaria, Mexico and Spain; variants of the A108 were built under licence Brazil. The most prolific source of Berlinettes outside France was Spain where 1108cc, 1289cc and 1397cc A110 Berlinettes were built under licence.
The form of the Renault Alpine A110 Berlinette was a development of the A108 Berlinette. Serge Zuliani, a young graduate in industrial design, was entrusted with the remodelling of the rear section of the car based upon work on the A108 that that had been undertaken by Philippe Charles under the leadership of Roger Prieur with Marcel Hubert also being part of the design team. The prototype A110 Berlinette was shown at the Paris Salon in September 1962. The rear-engine layout of the A110 Berlinette follows the construction principles proven on the Alpine A108. A steel backbone chassis structure, which includes the front suspension crossmember and a rear “bridge” to which the engine/gearbox and rear suspension mounts, is bonded into the fibreglass bodyshell which results in a particularly rigid body-chassis unit.
Gradually Renault increased their financial support to Alpine’s competition activities as the company sought to derive publicity benefit from Alpine’s competition successes. The Régie eventually took a majority holding in Alpine in 1973, the year that the A110 was used to win the inaugural World Rally Championship and 11 years after the introduction of that model. Even subsequent to Renault taking a controlling interest the Alpine marque identity was retained within the Renault corporate organisation with the marque designation on the chassis plates being changed from Alpine to Alpine Renault.
Most examples of the A110 Berlinette featured coil spring suspension with double wishbones at the front and swing axles at the rear with the driveshaft running inside the axle tubes. Double wishbone rear suspension from the Alpine A310 was fitted on the “1600 VD” and “1600 VH” and this also required some changes to the layout at the rear of the chassis. Most Berlinettes were fitted with hydraulically operated disc brakes on all four wheels, variations from this are noted in the text for those models concerned.
Since production of the A110 berlinette ceased in France in July 1977 a Spanish built A110-1400 has the honour of being the last production A110 Berlinette to be built.
Text by Tim Moores, former A110 Registrar for Club Alpine Renault in the UK, he has owned various A110 over the years, his cars have been featured in several magazines and he has contributed information about Alpines that has been incorporated into several books and other publications.
Tim’s very own Alpine. Formidable!