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Friday, 31 July 2015

Get Ready For Alpine's Return


If you're under 30 years old, combining the words "Alpine" and "car" probably conjures an image of a gaudy head unit for a Vauxhall Corsa's oversized aftermarket stereo. But if you really know your stuff, then you won't think of /////ALPINE Electronics, but the French sports car company from yesteryear (pronounced "Al-peen" if we're being proper). Founded in 1955 by Jean Rédélé, Alpine started with modified Renault 4CVs before taking running gear from Renaults and putting them in bespoke rear-engined sports cars. The most iconic of these was the A110 rally car, featured in the video above from Petrolicious. When the World Rally Championship as we know it was founded in 1973, the A110 was at the peak of its development and was driven to six victories and the inaugural world manufacturer's title (it was entered by Renault). A year later, it along with everything else was left behind by the glorious and bonkers Lancia Stratos, but the "French 911" left a distinct impression on rally fans anyway.


It wasn't just rallying, though. With Renault's continued help, Alpine won the Le Mans 24 Hours on the third time of trying, in 1978, after which Renault called it quits on endurance racing and focused wholeheartedly on F1. Alpine continued their partnership with the major manufacturer on the road, with the A110 being replaced by the A310, A610 and closely-related Renault-Alpine GTA. However, while the later road cars achieved cult status, they never really had the impact of the A110. By 1995, they were all done and finished.

But now, ten years after their demise and sixty years after they were founded, Renault is bringing Alpine back! Woo, another retro reboot, everyone!


Except that this one's actually kinda cool. Technically the comeback has already been in the making for the last five years at least, with an Alpine-branded Signatech-Nissan LMP2 chassis being entered multiple times in Le Mans recently, as well as a bonkers and brilliant Vision Gran Turismo concept, which followed the VERY LOUD "A110-50 Concept," a race-modded version of the Renault Dezir concept's design based on a Megane Trophy racecar. Now we have the Alpine Celebration Concept, seen at Le Mans and Goodwood this year in close proximity to the A110 from which it takes much inspiration. This one is actually going to link to a production road car, originally a collaboration with Caterham until the partnership broke down but now a Gallic rival to the likes of Lotus and the Alfa Romeo 4C. Lightweight fun with racing heritage. Little more is known at this point, other than it is definitely going to make it from concept to production soon-ish, likely using expertise from Renaultsport.

So, to give the little blue coupé below some context, watch the video above! Vive Alpine!


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