Alpine is the story of a brand, but it is also the story of the people before the brand existed, tomorrow, the story of a renewal.
A RENAULT ‘FAMILY’
- Alpine was founded in 1955 by Jean Rédélé, a young man with a passion for motorsport whose favorite playground – the Alps – inspired the name of his brand.
- Jean Rédélé was the first-born son of Madeleine Prieur and Emile Rédélé, a Renault dealer based
in Dieppe and a former mechanic of Ferenc Szisz – the first Renault Frères ‘factory driver’, winner
of the Grand Prix de la Sarthe in 1906 at Le Mans and runner-up in the Grand Prix de l’A.C.F. in
Dieppe in 1907.
- Louis Renault himself had hired Emile Rédélé right at the beginning of the 20th Century
- At the end of the First World War, at the request of Louis Renault, the young Emile Rédélé settled
in Dieppe and opened a Renault dealership there in rue
- Jean Rédélé was just 24-years-old and as such, became the youngest car dealer in France.
JEAN RÉDÉLÉ, MOTORSPORT CHAMPION
- He threw himself into motorsport in 1950, reasoning that “racing is the best way to test production
cars and victory is the best sales tool”. To no great surprise, he chose the brand new Renault 4CV
as the vehicle for his competition activities.
- On July 24, On home turf, at the 1st Rallye de Dieppe and up against 40 rivals, he steered his 4CV to first place ahead of a brigade of Peugeot 203s and more powerful Salmson entries.
- That victory was lauded by both the press and Renault’s management who suggested Rédélé enter the 21st Rallye Monte-Carlo in 1951 in a ‘1063’, the special ‘racing’ version of the 4CV.
- He participated in multiple races and made his mark
- By the end of a 1954 season that had been every bit as successful as 1953, Jean Rédélé had gained a reputation as a top driver.
THE CREATION OF ALPINE
- Jean Rédélé quickly saw the potential of a car brand, which he wanted to build based upon the the following basic principles: a car of innovative design, equipped with simple yet competitive mechanics underneath a lightweight, attractive body, whilst using the greatest number of mass produced parts possible to obtain a low cost price and low maintenance cost in relation to the car’s performance.
- The limited liability company ‘Société des Automobiles Alpine’ was founded on June 25, 1955. In early July, Jean Rédélé himself presented three A106 Coachs (‘A’ for Alpine and ‘106’ relating to the reference number 1062 of the 4CV, which had served as a source for parts).
- On October 6, 1955, Jean Rédélé officially launched his brand and cars during the 42nd Paris Motor Show
- In 1958, the A106 evolved into the A108. To begin with, the car used the original platform, before changing in 1960 to the genuinely innovative ‘backbone frame’ chassis, the real key to the Alpine’s agility
- Equipped with the same engine as the Renault Dauphine, the A108 soon gave birth to the A110, which benefitted from the Renault 8 as a parts bank. It took advantage of this notable improvement with a light redesign at the rear.
- The production of the A110 made continuous progression, victories in rallies were piling up, the success of its prototypes at Le Mans made Alpine famous (‘The world’s fastest litre of petrol’) and Henri Grandsire, French F3 Champion in an Alpine, starred as cartoon character Michel Vaillant on television behind the wheel of Alpine-Vaillants!
- The A110 was continually evolving – first with a 1108cc engine, then 1255cc, then 1565cc and then 1605cc. Aesthetically, the changes were minor but numerous: a front grille with four headlights, widened wings, a front-mounted radiator, a removable rear skirt and so forth.
FROM ALPINE TO ALPINE RENAULT
- Alpine’s burgeoning success, spawned by the Berlinette A110, forced Jean Rédélé to create a second production unit in Thiron-Gardais.
- Jean Rédélé had imagined a completely new car: the A310, presented at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show. This car, designed by Jean Rédélé himself with the help of Yves Legal (Alpine) and Michel Beligond (Renault), was intended to establish the brand in the arena of sports cars and grand touring vehicles.
- That said, the A310 underwent regular evolutions and found its customer base. After the four cylinder, 140hp, 1605cc engine of 1971, fuel injection was added in 1974, and then, from September 1976, it was equipped with the V6, 150hp, 2700cc powerplant taken from the Renault 30 TS. In 1981, it gained the rear end of the new Renault 5 Turbo.
- After more than 11,600 units had been produced (2,340 of the four-cylinder version and 9,287 of the V6 version), the A310 gracefully bowed out to make way for the new GTA in 1985.
- Initially equipped with a 2849cc engine producing 160hp, the GTA hit a top speed of more than 230kph. Several months later, a turbo version – utilising a Garrett T3 turbo and air-to-air intercooler coupled with Renix electronic injection (conceived jointly by Renault and Bendix) – appeared on the market. It boasted 200hp and enabled the GTA – the fastest French car in production – to be labelled by the press a ‘fighter jet for the road’.
- Jean Rédélé always kept his faith in Renault. Thanks to this close relationship, the cars produced
in Dieppe were called Alpine Renaults from the end of 1967 when Jean Rédélé’s brand was tasked with officially representing Renault in motorsport.
- At the same time, Renault awarded Alpine a contract of recommendation signed with Elf which allowed for an additional competition budget to be freed up, whilst Philippe Lamirault authorised the network of Renault dealers to sell the A110 and later the A310.
- From that point on, Alpine cars sported the Renault diamond on their bonnet, and the economic
links between the two companies became increasingly close. Finally, in 1973, those links were materialised when Renault acquired a 70 per cent majority share in Alpine.
- In 1976, Alpine withdrew its sporting activity in favour of a new entity, Renault Sport, led by Gérard
Larrousse and, two years later, a research department. Alpine in Dieppe became the Berex engineering centre.
- Following the end of production of the A610, the Dieppe factory – which had always proudly retained the Alpine logo on its walls – produced numerous sporting models for Renault Sport
- After the agile ‘Renault 5 Alpine’ – affectionately nicknamed ‘skateboard’ following its superb performance on the 1978 Rallye Monte-Carlo – it produced the terrific ‘Renault 5 Turbo’ (1,820 examples of the ‘Turbo’ version with a special interior from 1980 to 1982, and 3,292 examples of the ‘Turbo 2’ between 1983 and 1986).
- The factory in Dieppe also produced the Spider from 1996 to 1999 (1,685 examples).
- Then followed the story of the Clio RS, with more than 104 210 cars produced from 2000 to 2019, and the Mégane II RS, launched in 2003 and winner of Echappement magazine’s ‘Sporting Car of the Year’ award in both 2007 and 2008. A total of 22,455 examples were produced.
- Not forgetting, of course, the Clio V6 – of which 1,333 were produced between 2002 and 2005 – and the various racing vehicles such as the Clio Cup (700 examples), Mégane Trophy (13 examples), Formula Renault FR 2.0-litre (112 examples) and Formula Renault 3.5-litre (26 examples).
- The Alpine competition department merged into Renault Sport in 1976 and the production of Alpine models ceased in 1995. The Alpine marque was relaunched with the 2017 introduction of the new Alpine A110.
- Today, the Alpine factory in Dieppe once again plays a key role, with a new partnership announced with Catheram to design and produce sporty cars which will perpetuate Alpine’s DNA.
. ALPINE’S REBIRTH
- In February 2016, Alpine’s relaunch was made official at an international press conference in the port of Monaco, a highly symbolic venue for a brand that has won the Monte Carlo Rally twice.
- At the end of 2016, Alpine announced the opening of pre-orders for the Alpine A110 First Edition, a limited edition of 1955 units in reference to the year the brand was created by Jean Rédélé. The entire limited edition was pre-ordered in less than a week.
- Marketing of the Alpine A110 First Edition started in late 2017 and continued throughout 2018.
- The year 2018 also marked the launch of new Pure and Legend versions of the A110.
- As soon as the A110 was launched, Alpine developed a more powerful version called A110S (292 hp), with a specific chassis where driving precision and stability at high speed have been modified to satisfy a more demanding clientele in terms of sportiness.
- Alpine continues to expand its catalogue and offers an A110 GT Legend version, the most elegant interpretation of the A110 to date, revealed alongside the A110 Color Edition 2020.
- The activities of Alpine Cars, Renault Sport Cars and Renault Sport Racing are united as one entity under the Alpine brand. The newly created entity intends to be a “new generation” automotive Brand for discerning, passionate early adopters.
- The new organizational structure, will include a 100% electric B-Segment Hot Hatch based on the Alliance CMF-B EV platform, a 100% electric C-segment Sports Cross Over based on the Alliance CMF-EV platform, and a 100% EV replacement of the A110 developed with Lotus.
- In 2021, Alpine’s motorsport programme will gain momentum with the brand’s arrival in the Formula 1 World Championship under the name Alpine F1 Team, not forgetting the move up to the premier class (LMP1) of the FIA WEC Endurance World Championship, under the name Elf Matmut Alpine Endurance Team.
Finally, the history of Alpine is not only about cars, but also about people. Often unseen by the public, these engineers, technicians, operators, employees, executives, and managers all play a vital role. Knowing how to make the right choices during the car’s design, knowing how to make it attractive to potential customers, knowing how to make it desirable to everyone…such is their everyday challenge.