The Alpine A110 was produced from 1961 through 1973 and was powered by an assortment of Renault engines that ranged in size and horsepower output. Many of the mechanical components came from Renault. There was only one body-style offered for the Alpine and that was the Berlinetta. The A110 was given a fiberglass body and sat atop a steel chassis, similar to the designs of the Lotus Elan.
The A110 was very popular and successful during the early 1970s rally races where it won many of the races entered.
When production of the A110 began it was outfitted with a 1.1 liter R8 engine which produced around 95 horsepower (SAE). Later the cast-iron R8 Gordini engine was replaced in favor of the aluminum block Renault 16 TS engine. With two dual Weber 45 carburetors the horsepower rose to 125 which allowed the A110 to achieve a 210 km/h top speed. By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2006The Alpine company started their successful start with sports-bodied Renaults which eventually led to complete car construction. Jean Rédélé, founder of the French marque, was a young 24-year old engineer in Dieppe who became the youngest Renault dealer in France. An extreme racing car enthusiast, Rédélé began my winning international competitions behind the wheel of a Renault 4Hp that he had fitted himself. With the aid of designer Giovanni Michelotti, he launched the design of a 4HP sports coupe.
Introduced in 1961, the Alpine A110 was also dubbed the ‘Berlinette' because it first arrived with 'Berlinetta' bodyworks, then as a cabriolet. Alpine struck a deal in 1965 with Renault to distribute the A110 through official channels. A sports vehicle, the A110 was powered by a heavy variety of Renault engines, and was produced by French manufacturer Alpine. An evolution of the A108, the A110 was updated enough to use R8 parts, whereas the A108 was designed around Dauphine components. Each year the rear mounted engine Renault Inline-4 was progressively upgraded. Beginning with a 998 cc unit, the vehicle moved from 77bhp to 155 bhp by 1970.
Low-slung, light and limber, the A110 Berlinette was the delight of a brand new generation of rally drivers. The A110 was considered to be a lot more ‘aggressive' looking than the A108 Coupe, since the rear body was restyled to fit the larger engines. The A110 also featured a steel backbone chassis with fiberglass body much like the A108. Colin Chapman was a major source of inspiration behind the design that had been influenced by the Lotus Elan. Originally the A110 was available with 1.1 R L8 Major or R8 Gordini engines and it delivered 95 hp SAE at 6500 rpm.
In the early 1970s, the Alpine A110 received most of its acclaim due to its victory as a rally car. In the late 1960s, the A110 won several rallies in France with iron-cast R8 Gordini engines before being fitted with the aluminum block Renault 16 TS engine. The vehicle featured two dual chamber Weber 45 carbs and was able to deliver 125 hp DIN at 6000 rpm. The production 1600S featured a top speed of 130 mph.
During the 1970 through 1972 seasons, the Alpine A110 achieved international fame once it participated in the newly created International Championship for Manufacturers. The final version of the Alpine A110 was the 1970 1600S and in full competition trim, this vehicle won the European Championship of 1970. It won several events all around Europe and was considered to be one of the strongest rally vehicles of its time. Swedish driver Ove Andersson achieved a grand victory on the 1971 Monte Carlo Rally with this car.
Once Renault bought out Alpine, the International Championship was replaced by the World Rally Championship for the 1973 year. Renault elected to compete in this competition with the A110. The team featured Jean-Pierre Nicolas, Bernard Darniche and Jean-Luc Thérier as the permanent drivers, while Jean-Claude Andruet as a ‘guest star', who won the 1973 Monte Carlo Rally. The A110 actually won most races where the works team was entered, which made Alpine the first World Rally Champion.
A110 models were built at Alpine's Dieppe factory, and they were also constructed by various other vehicle manufacturers around the world. In Brazil, the Alpine A110 was introduced under the name Interlagos, and young Emerson Fittipaldi drove one in several races. In Mexico, the Alpine A110 was produced in Mexico under the name Dinalpin from 1965 through 1974 by Diesel Nacional, which was another producer of Renault vehicles. In Bulgaria the Alpine A110 was introduced as the Bulgaralpine from 1967 through 1969 by a cooperative that was formed between SPC MEtalhim and ETO Bulet. This collaboration also produced the Bulgarrenault.
The A110 was slowly reaching the end of its production life and 1974 was its final year. Attempts were made to utilize fuel injection, but it brought no performance increase. Some vehicles also received a DOHV 16-valve head fitted to the engine, but this proved unreliable. Other attempts to increase performance included chassis modification like the use of an A310 double wishbone rear suspension, homologated with the A110 1600SC. The Lancia Stratos was introduced in 1974 and was the first car to be designed from scratch for just rally racing. It was operational and homologated and proved to be the ‘ultimate weapon', which made the Alpine A110, along with many other rally cars, obsolete.By Jessica Donaldson