Sleeping Beauty Nº6: Renault Alpine A110

Classic French cars are a specialised field; yet even those with little interest in the history of the French automobile can’t fail to be impressed with the achievements of the Renault Alpine. Here at last was a model that restored the necessary aura of sporting success, both in racing and rallying, to the Renault brand.

The A110, first introduced in 1961 as an evolution of the Renault A108 (using the same format of a steel backbone chassis with glassfibre body), used many parts from the Renault 8. During its production lifetime, it was powered by a wide range of Renault engines – of differing capacities and in various states of tune.

Fitted with the cast-iron engine from the R8 Gordini, the A110 won several French rallies of the late 1960s. But it was when the car was fitted with an aluminium R16 TS block that power was upped to 125bhp – and this meant that the production 1600S could reach a top speed of around 130mph. Pretty quick for a (relatively low-priced) mass production car of the 1970s. And this was by no means the most powerful A110 in the model’s colourful history: 180bhp is claimed for those fitted with highly developed 1800cc engines.

Predominantly known as an ultra-successful rally car, the A110 first achieved international acclaim in 1970-72, winning several European events in the International Rally Championship. In 1971, the car took the first three places in the Monte Carlo Rally. By the time the new World Rally Championship kicked off in 1973, Alpine had become a wholly owned subsidiary of Renault. With regular drivers Bernard Darniche, Jean-Pierre Nicolas and Jean-Luc Thérier, along with the occasional guest driver such as Jean-Claude Andruet, Renault’s A110 dominated the world rallying scene, winning almost every event the factory team entered – culminating in victory in the first World Rally Championship.

Today, a top-condition Renault Alpine A110 will cost you upward of 40,000 euros and our Classic Driver dealers suggest this could well increase in the not-so-distant future. What it buys you is a slice of French motoring history, backed by outstanding rallying credentials – and a large dash of charismatic Gallic styling.

Keen on a Renault Alpine A110? Have a look in the Classic Driver car database.

Text: Classic Driver
Photo: Renault

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