Sports car classics: The Renault Alpine A110

The Renault Alpine (or Alpine Renault for earlier cars) A110 was a great little sports car that had all of the right ideas of what a sports car should be for the time: a fiberglass body mounted on a backbone chassis, a fairly powerful engine that gave it good power to weight ratio, and great looks.

Like all good sports car manufacturers, Alpine was started by a young automotive enthusiast Jean Rédélé. His father was a car dealer and in 1946, he gained ownership to become the youngest Renault dealer in France. Having won his class at the 1951 Le Mans race in a 4CV, he knew what it took to build a sports car. For his first production car, he raided the
Renault parts bin and built a special fiberglass body to create the A106. The French car company must have been impressed, because they would sell the little Alpines through their dealer network and provided Rédélé with the parts needed.

The first big success for Alpine came in 1963 from the A110. Like the previous A106 and A108 models, the car used parts off of Renault production cars, this time the new R8 model. The use of the backbone chassis was inspired by the Lotus Elan. Power for the car initially started with a 1.1L four producing 95 horsepower and with the car weighing less than 2000 pounds, gave decent performance. Rear traction was great as the engine had to be placed in the rear thanks to parts sharing.

The car didn’t come into its own until the R16, aluminum blocked engine was used in the late ‘60s. These 1.6 L inline fours produced 125 horsepower when tuned with Weber side-draft carburetors. This addition of more horsepower, lighter engine, and superior rear traction gave the car a winning rally formula. The Alpine A110 went on to take the International Championship for Manufacturers from 1970 when it was started until 1972.

A total of 8,139 Renault Alpine A110s were built between 1963 until production ended in 1976. The previous two cars, the A106 and A108 combined totaled less than 500.  The car’s popularity was so strong that it was built all over the world, including in Brazil, Bulgaria and Mexico.

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