Total Production: 300 1955 - 1961
Incredibly rare, the Alpine A106 was the signature design from rally driver Jean Rédélé, the owner and founder of Alpine, Renault's subsidiary brand Alpine. Pronounced 'Alpin', the French manufacturer produced both racing and sports cars that used rear-mounted Renault engines. Rédélé was originally a Dieppe garage owner who received acclaim from his racing success during competitions following the Second World War. In 1978 Renault purchased the company.
The inspiration for the A106 came from the 'Marquis', a Renault 4CV based coupé that though it was never produced, was acquired for production under U.S. license and the 'Allemano', another Renault 4CV based coupé prototype. The first offering from the new company, the A106 was a two-seater sports coupe launched in 1955 as a symbol of what was to come from the Renault-Alpine partnership. Carrying with it the styling that would be demonstrated in future Renault-Alpine models, the snappy little coupe would eventually be replaced by the A108 in 1961.
To launch the A106 the first three Alpine models were painted respectively red, white and blue and delivered to Renault CEO Pierre Dreyfus at the Renault Billaincourt plant yard. Chappe et Gessalin was in charge of assembly in order to meet a crunch order from Paris based Renault dealer Charles Escoffier, incidentally Jean Rédélé's father in law.
Around 650 A106's were produced during its six-year production run. The styling of the A106 was the brainchild of Rédélé and his desire to build an aerodynamic polyester body and adjusting it to the 4CV's chassis. The end result was a sport coupe with a curvy, sleek body with a slim front end and a short, leaning tail end. The A106 was constructed nearly entirely of fiberglass and housed on the original Renault 4CV floor plan and shared many mechanical components. Working with the Chappe brothers, Rédélé would be amongst the first to use auto glass fiber construction.
Powering the A106 was a 747cc rear engine, which eventually added the 845 cc, 904 cc and 998 cc options. Initially the A106 coupe came with an available 21 HP or 38 HP but modifications involving a larger engine increased the horsepower to 59. With a top speed between 75 mph and 115 mph, the rear-wheel drive A106 had the options of the original 3-speed gearbox or a newer 5-speed version. The chassis was tubular-framed backbone and the steering was rack-and-pinion.
Following WWII, France entered into international rally events once again and used the A106 as its entrant. Owner Jean Rédélé drove one of these in 1955 at the Mille Miglia race. The performance enhanced sporting 43 hp A106 won and was given the nickname that it became known as, 'Mille Miles'. The updated specifications of the Mille Miles included four shock absorbers at the rear, and the suspension system that would also be used for the Renault 8 Gordini. Other modifications included a five speed manual gearbox that was manufactured under license, with a hefty pricetag nearly 35% of a Renault 4CV, because of this, the five-speed gearbox option was rarely purchased. Jean Claude Galtier and Maurice Michy received a class victory and a podium place in 1956 for the A106 in the Mille Miglia race.
The A106 made it first debut appearance at the Paris Motor Show in October of 1957. Chappe et Gessalin moved his production facilities in 1957 to a much more spacious site for his fiber glass body cars to Brie-Comte-Robert to make room for increasing production levels. Still powered by the 747 cc Renault engine, the A106 was now available with three different power output versions, 21 hp at 4,100 rpm, 30 hp at 4,800 rpm or 43 hp at 6,300 rpm on the 'A106 Mille Miles'.
Through the 1950s the A106 achieved many successes and was eventually joined by a low and fashionable cabriolet, which was styled by the famed Italian designed Giovanni Michelotti. The Michelotti styled cabriolet was debuted at the October 1957 Paris Motor Show. The A106 continued to be Alpine's principal model until the end of its production span. A larger engined version was introduced later with a maximum 59 hp of power from a 904 cc version of the Dauphine engine and a tubular-framed backbone chassis model was launched in 1959. Alpine developed a 2+2 closed coupe berlinette body from the Michelotti cabriolet design that became the Alpine A108 was produced from 1958 to 1963.
Though it was produced only in limited numbers the A106 was pivotal in establishing the Alpine auto-brand. The successor to the A106, the A108, would only further aid the brand in growing successfully over the years.
By Jessica Donaldson