The origins of the French firm
The Automobile Society Alpine SAS, generally known as Alpine, manufactures sports and racing vehicles using Renault engines. Jean Rédélé, the founder of the company, was originally head of a workshop in Dieppe. There in his hometown, he began to achieve considerable competitive success using one of the few French cars produced just after World War II.
Jean Adele first started competing in the Dieppe-Rouen rally with a modified Renault 4CV, showing unrivaled sporting potential. Thanks to his first victory, he encouraged him to continue. Using the legendary Renault 4CV, Rédélé achieved victories in a series of important events, including the Mille Miglia and the Coupe des Alpes. As his experience with the 4CV grew, he incorporated many modifications, including, for example, five-speed gears that replaced the original three-speed transmission.
To provide a lighter car, he developed several special versions with aluminum bodies. These vehicles rode on legendary circuits such as Le Mans and Sebring with considerable success in the early 1950s. Encouraged by the development of these cars and the consequent demand from the clients, founded the Société Anonyme des Automobiles Alpine in 1954.
Jean Adele begins to sell his vehicles in Paris in his father’s workshop, Charles Escoffier, who offered him all his support. The vehicles could be fully customized and were individually handcrafted. In 1955, before the company’s founding, Jean Rédélé presented the Alpine A106 in the colors of the French flag: Red, white and blue. In 1956, the Alpine A106 street was assembled. Until 1960, 251 vehicles were assembled by hand. They are joined by another 40 under license in Belgium.
A prototype of a convertible version, bodied by Chappe et Gessalin, was presented in Paris in 1956 but never went into production. However, a convertible version of the Alpine A106 did make it in 1957. Shortly after that, the Alpine A108s began smoothly, initially as a convertible version and later with a coupe body.
The development of the A106 was in parallel with the Alpine A108. After a thorough design overhaul, five different Alpine models were produced in 1960: Alpine A106, Alpine A108 Cabrio Sport, Alpine A108 Coupe Sport, Alpine A108 Berlinette Tour de France, and the Alpine A108 Coupé 2 + 2.
Greater recognition and achievements in competition
With the design changes to the Alpine A108, the Alpine strokes became famous in the motor world. With the new model, Jean Rédélé took over the bodywork on his vehicles. However, Chappe et Gessalin would keep crafting the Alpine 2 + 2 silhouette.
A short time later, the Alpine A110 would arrive. The lines on its body were still fluid and characteristic. The most famous of them, the A110 Berlinette, was produced in the autumn of 1961. A year later, the final version was presented in Paris.
At the time, the A110 Berlinette did not have the characteristic dual front optics. That detail came with a facelift that the model underwent in 1967. This model was marketed in parallel with the Alpine A108 until 1977. Without a doubt, the A110 has become one of the manufacturer’s most iconic vehicles.
Even in terms of competition, the A110 achieved a very remarkable track record, only surpassed by the Lancia Stratos. Some models of the Alpine A108 or the first A110 were built under license by several other car manufacturers: Dinalpin (Mexico), Bulgaralpine (Bulgaria), Willys Interlagos (Brazil), or FASA Alpine (Spain).
Under the Renault umbrella
Despite what is commonly thought, this brand has not disappeared as such at any time since it survived thanks to collaborations with other firms.
For some years, Alpine worked closely with the British manufacturer Caterham to produce affordable sports cars until, in 2014, Renault took back all the shares of the sports division and incorporated them into its business structure.
Under the control of the French manufacturer, Alpine is experiencing a second youth, and it is expected that in 2017 it will present the first model of a new generation of sports cars.