A month or so ago, we came across an unusual glassfibre bodied car at a small classic car display in Chasseneuil. See Here. We had no idea what it was, as it had no badges, but our good friend Sébastien from Paris was delighted to see this car on my blog and told us that his father Richard was the designer of this, and many other models made by Alpine, a small car designer and builder based in Dieppe and owned by Jean Rédélé. Having done some research, we have found more information on this interesting marque, which from the 50’s, 60’s and beyond proved itself to be an example of the best of French automotive engineering. The following is a heavily abbreviated account of the firm’s history and if you are interested, you can see more at the websites, to which I am indebted for the facts. Any errors in interpretation of these are mine!
Monsieur Rédélé had been involved in motor racing from 1952, when a modified Renault 4CV was entered at Le Mans. Over many years (Alpine was founded in 1955, launching a car at the Paris Salon in that year), he operated his business in co-operation with Renault, and in 1962 signed an agreement with them; Alpine-Renault was born and Richard Bouleau was the company’s chassis designer.
Richard BouleauIn 1964, they were developing single seater Formula 2 racing cars; racing and rallying was continued by the firm for many years with varying success, but it did advertise the production cars!. The firm’s mainstays in the following years were the A108 and A110 series, fast but fragile rear-engine road-going coupes with Renault running gear and fibreglass bodies. But these were cramped little two-seaters more suited to racing or European rallying than normal road work.
A new model was long overdue by 1971, and Alpine-Renault surprised everyone that year with the new A310, a much larger, more spacious, well-appointed and altogether more practical machine. It became the company's main production car for the next 14 years.
Power came from a 127bhp four cylinder 1600 Renault engine mounted at the rear. In late 1976, the 1.6-litre engine was replaced by a 150bhp 'PRV' (Peugeot/Renault/Volvo) V6 of 2664cc and this boosted top speed to 137mph. Disc brakes were fitted at the rear and production was increased. I understand that the car I saw in Chasseneuil was one of these.
Exactly 2334 four-cylinder A310s had been built in the five years to 1976, but the new V-6 sold even better, helped by further improvements: 5-speed gearbox in 1979 and upgraded interior from 1982. Production continued at Dieppe until 1985, when the Alpine-Renault A310 gave way to the new GTA.
All pictures taken of the car are my own.
Information and R.Bouleau photo credits :-
16 July - Stage 12 - Bourg-de-Péage - Mende 210.5 km
The stage results are as follows:-
1. Joaquin RODRIGUEZ OLIVER (KAT) Spanish
2. Alberto Contador (AST) Spanish
3. Alexandre Vinokourov (AST)
No major changes in the overall classification in the top 10; only the time gaps have changed and Contador is now 31 seconds behind Andy Schleck.
17 July - stage 13 - Rodez - Revel 196 km
Stage results –
1. A Vinokourov (AST)
2. Mark Cavendish (HTC)
3. A Petacchi (LAM)
On this flattish stage, the overall positions have changed very little, but tomorrow anything may happen. Not only do they have a very large mountain to climb, but they also have a mountain top finish, which will favour climbers over sprinters.