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The Alpine A110’s heritage explained

By Chris Thompson, 06 Jun 2018 Features

History of the Alpine A110 feature

The first A110 isn’t a long way from its successor in either form or function

If you’re wondering why the 2018 Alpine A110 looks so unusual, you might not know where its heritage lies.

And if you do know where the A110 badge comes from, it doesn’t hurt to brush up on the details.

In 1961, the A110 debuted as a car that looks somewhat similar to its modern equivalent.

It followed the principle of a light kerb weight rather than a massive power figure, and even had a series of Renault engines, located at the car’s rear. This proved to be a winning formula.

The man behind the car – and the Alpine brand – was Jean Rédélé, a French Renault dealer and workshop owner. His passion for motorsport is one reason why the Alpine A110 became so prominent as a racer. But we’ll get to that.

With 1.6-litre naturally aspirated Renault engines being the pinnacle of performance for the A110, it managed outputs or about 103kW, and weighed around 635kg depending on specification.

It’s no surprise the A110’s looks still hold up today – it was designed by the prolific Giovanni Michelotti, who also penned cars such as the Ferrari 250, the BMW 2002 and Alfa Romeo’s 2000 & 2600.

It became a rally legend, finding itself competing in the WRC among other rally series, and even has a string of victories during the 1971 Championship to its name – including one at the prestigious Rallye Monte Carlo.

That same year, while Renault (and therefore Alpine) wouldn’t compete in the mega Nürburgring 96 Hours, one Jean-Luc Thérier borrowed an A110 to make his own privateer entry.

While no one reportedly took the Alpine very seriously at first, expecting a BMW 2800 CS to take the win, Thérier, Jacques Henry, and Maurice Nusbaumer took victory by a margin of about 8 laps.

By the end of its production in 1977, the A110 had already overlapped the production run of its ‘replacement’, the A310, by six years.

Read more: Alpine A110 GT4 revealed

More recently, the A110 was honoured with a concept car to honour the 50th anniversary of its release. The A110-50, or Renault Alpine ZAR, features a 3.5-litre V6 and, upon its debut at the Monaco GP circuit, was driven for four laps by then Renault COO and now PSA CEO Carlos Tavares.