Celebrating 60 Years Of Alpine At Goodwood


June 22, 2015 By Mike Lee
Last updated on August 2, 2015

Alpine M65

  • Alpine Celebration Goodwood show car to be centre stage at Festival of Speed with specially created livery
  • Lord March to open Festival of Speed in Alpine show car
  • Demonstrations and displays from celebrated Alpine models spanning the last six decades
  • Attended by Bernard Ollivier (CEO, Société des Automobiles Alpine, Antony Villain (Alpine Design Director) and René Arnoux

The new Alpine Celebration Goodwood show car is the glamorous centrepiece of this famous sporting brand’s display at the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed. Alpine will celebrate 60 years of pedal-to-the-metal race and road cars at Goodwood this year, featuring demonstrations and displays not only of the exciting new Alpine Celebration Goodwood, but of many famous cars from its past.

These include the:

  • Alpine A106
  • Alpine A108
  • Alpine A110
  • Alpine M65
  • Alpine A110 1800 Groupe 4
  • Alpine A442 B – driven by René Arnoux
  • Signatech-Alpine A450 B

Most of these cars will run up the hill on Friday in a single celebratory batch, while Lord March will drive the Alpine Celebration Goodwood up the hill in the first run to open this year’s Festival of Speed.

The Cars

Alpine Celebration Goodwood

A compact sports car inspired by Alpine’s motorsport heritage, the Alpine Celebration Goodwood is a two-seater coupé with sleek, flowing lines.  Its colour scheme has been specially created for the Goodwood Festival of Speed to commemorate 60 years of heritage, celebrated by a blazon on the side and rear, and will be seen for the first time at the opening of this year’s Festival.  The ‘Goodwood’ moniker in the show car’s name recognises the event, as well as this new livery, and distinguishes it from the Alpine Celebration Le Mans show car that appeared at the 24 hour race earlier this month.

The deep blue colour scheme is the same blue that adorns the Alpine prototypes that made a triumphant return to endurance racing in 2013. It is a livery referencing the Alpine models that played such a pivotal role in the brand’s original Le Mans adventure when, from 1963 to 1969, the M63, M64, M65, A210, A220 and even the A110 so valiantly upheld French honour in La Sarthe.

The Alpine Celebration Goodwood faithfully replicates the timeless style of Alpines of old whilst adding a modern twist. Its low profile, sloping, creased bonnet, sculpted sides, distinctive rear window and other design details are all clear echoes of models like the A110 that have featured so prominently in Alpine’s glorious history.

With no need for gimmickry to stand out from the crowd, the beauty of the Alpine Celebration Goodwood resides in its simplicity. Mindful of remaining elegant whilst at the same time responding to the need for frugality and efficiency, the Alpine Celebration Goodwood show car reveals much about the brand’s heritage. If it retains a familiar style and set of values, it integrates them in a thoroughly modern manner. Carbon detailing is used to highlight the high-tech features of the car’s body, from its spoiler to the side sills, diffuser, rear air intakes and mirrors.

The positioning of the masked double headlamps and the central round lights barred by a white cross will remind fans of the adhesive strips that used to be found on the headlights of Alpine’s rally cars. It was formerly a means of holding the lenses together should they be broken.

The apparently floating spoiler framing the Alpine’s bold nose strength, whilst the visual impression of poise and efficiency is enhanced by the straight, sharp lines of the side sills. The mirrors, meanwhile, incorporate a thin mirror that seems to be suspended free of its housing to heighten the dynamic, lightweight and aerodynamically efficient feel.  The famous Alpine arrowed ‘A’ is visible on the air intake grille, sides, front wings and roof.

The design of the wheels recalls a style that was popular on the A110 and A310 models during the 1970s. They reveal the prominent brake discs and orange brake callipers. In the middle is a one-piece cast aluminium hub – another element that contributes to the overall styling.

The athletic rear integrates air intakes built into the rear quarter panels to contribute to engine cooling. The engine cover – which can be spied through the louvered motifs of the rear window – reveals the mid-rear positioning of the power plant.

Above the wheel arches, scoops guide airflow in a manner that is unmistakeably Alpine. The rear of the vehicle is characterised by an impressive diffuser that incorporates a central rear light, flanked by two brushed stainless steel exhaust tailpipes. The approach throughout is very clearly to highlight rather than conceal the car’s structural elements. The result suggests low weight, agility and rewarding performance.

That said, the true significance of the Alpine Celebration Goodwood show car is to be found in its design – all flowing, sensual curves – which single-handedly symbolises the very essence of driving pleasure à la française.

Alpine A106

Rédélé’s first production car, the A106 was based on the popular 4CV saloon, highly tuned versions of which he had raced very successfully. Rédélé reckoned that with a special lightweight body the 4CV would be swifter still. In fact, he had already commissioned talented Italian designer Giovanni Michelotti to design aluminium coachwork for a lighter 4CV, this pretty one-off coupe built by coachbuilders Allemano.  The 4CV Spécial Sport turned out to be a major giant-killer in the 1953 Dieppe rally.

At much the same Rédélé had become interested in glassfibre technology, had grown keener to become a car manufacturer in his own right and had heard about a wealthy American industrialist by the name of Zark W. Reed. Reed wanted to build plastic-bodied sportscar to sell in the US against MG and Triumph. The two met, and devised a plan for Reed’s Plasticar company to build a grp-bodied version of the Michelotti car called the Marquis. The project ultimately came to nothing, but provided inspiration for the A106, as did a second 4CV rebody Rédélé had ordered from Italian coachbuilder Allemano.

In 1955 Rédélé presented three A 106s in red, white and blue to Renault CEO Pierre Dreyfus, their glassfibre bodywork manufactured by Chappe et Gasselin. The A106 was primarily intended as a racing car and offered with various power outputs, suspension set-ups, weight reductions and a (pricey) five-speed gearbox option. But demand for road-going versions saw it appearing at the 1957 Paris motor show, alongside a new Michelotti-designed cabriolet. Larger Renault Dauphine engines and even a spaceframe chassis were eventually offered, 251 A106s produced between 1955-59 at the company’s Dieppe factory.

Alpine A108

The A108 was a coupe version of Michelotti’s restyled A 106 cabriolet, based on the 4CV’s Dauphine successor. It appeared with the A106 at the ’57 Paris show powered by a 37bhp Gordini version of the Dauphine’s four-cylinder 845cc engine. Like its predecessor the A108 was glassfibre-bodied on a pressed steel platform. But Rédélé developed a more advanced version called the GT4, which used a steel backbone chassis, cradles at either end carrying the suspension, powertrain and steering gear. It rode on a 7cm longer wheelbase and appeared in 1963, only a year after the Lotus Elan was launched using the same arrangement.

Although less than 100 GT4’s were built, its structural composition was the basis for the legendary A110, whose styling was a highly successful evolution of the A 108’s look. Rédélé’s dream of overseas production was also realized with the A108, the car built under licence in Brazil by Willys-Overland to become the country’s first sports car. Renamed the Willys Interlagos, it was produced in Sao Paolo and enjoyed plenty of competition success. An impressive 822 were built from 1960 to 1965 – more than the 236 Alpine A108s built in Dieppe between 1960-62.

Alpine A110

The A110 Berlinette was an evolution of the A108, but a very significant one. It harnessed hardware from the Renault R8 rather than its Dauphine predecessor, and ran with engines that regularly became more powerful. Like the Alpine GT4, it was built around a backbone chassis to which its mechanicals were bolted, its exceptionally low body made from lightweight glassfibre. It was launched with a 1108cc engine which grew to 1255cc, then 1565cc, 1605cc and finally 1647cc for the Berlinetta SX. Aesthetically it changed relatively little over the years, not least because it was already very attractive. But there were many minor changes, among them a front grille with four headlights, widened wings, a front-mounted radiator, a removable rear skirt revised wheel designs and more.

Unusually for a relatively low volume car, the A110 was also produced under licence in Spain and Mexico. In total some 7,500 Berlinettes were produced between 1961 and 1965, the car shining in every competitive arena it entered. But its most famous exploits were on rally stages of the early ‘70s, Alpine winning the 1973 World Rally Championship with the car as well as many other victories.

The Alpine A110 Berlinette was the car that cemented Alpine’s reputation, and turned it international, besides giving dozens of drivers, professional and amateur, the taste of victory.

Alpine M65

A purpose-built sports prototype, the M65 was developed during a fertile design era for endurance racing cars triggered by the so called ‘Index of Performance’. This ingenious handicap system promoted all kinds of experimentation with mechanical layout, engine size and aerodynamics, cars scoring for efficiency as well as speed, Alpine winning it in 1964 with the M64.

The befinned M65 was powered by a Gordini-tuned 1300 engine that started life as the 1100 unit used by the Renault 8 Gordini. Its 130bhp was impressive for the engine’s size, and coupled with the M65’s modest 669kg and fish-like slipperiness, allowed the Alpine to run at over 160mph on the Mulsanne straight.

In 1965 it won the 1300cc class at the Reims 12 Hours, topping that with a startling win in the Nürburgring 500km race, pair of M65s appearing at Le Mans in the same year, although Mauro Bianchi and Henri Grandsire would retire on lap 32.

Alpine A110 1800 Groupe 4

A competition version of the A110, this Groupe 4 car is powered by the largest engine used by the model. By this point the A110 was beginning to be beaten in rallies, but only after a long period of success that included a World Rally Championship win in 1973.

Alpine A442 B

This is the model that won Alpine outright victory in the 1978 Le Mans 24 Hours, with Jean-Pierre Jaussaud and Didier Pironi. Its success was the culmination of five years of work, the A 442B evolving from the first normally-aspirated A 440, the A 441 and then the turbocharged 442. There were many wins in Sport world championship events on the way, but plenty of heartache before Alpine’s ultimate goal was scored.

The A 442B was powered by a 2.1 litre turbocharged V6, hit a staggering 223mph on the Mulsanne straight and set what was then the fastest ever lap time recorded by an Alpine at La Sarthe. On the day of its victory Renault President and CEO Bernard Hanon, who had set Alpine’s Le Mans goal, announced that the team would withdraw from endurance racing to contest Formula One.

Each day, René Arnoux will pilot the A442b up the Goodwood hill climb.  René’s motor racing career spans 12 Formula One seasons (1978 to 1989), competing in 165 World Championship Grand Prix, winning seven of them, achieving 22 podium finishes and scoring 181 career points.

Signatech-Alpine  A450b

Fresh from its battles at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hour race, the Alpine 450b has been racing in this year’s World Endurance Championship, which is a step up from the European Le Mans (ELMS) championship that the Signatech-Alpine team has won for the past two years.

With these two successful seasons under its belt, Alpine has decided to turn up its programme a notch in 2015, the Alpine A450b appearing at all eight rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).

‘The world championship represents a whole new challenge,’ says Alpine’s CEO, Bernard Ollivier. ‘The context will be very different because our aim will be to make a name for ourselves in the LM P2 class. It will be a chance for us not only to keep learning but also to showcase our ability in parts of the world that are important for our brand. This programme will benefit Alpine’s image across the globe.’

As a tribute to the Alpines which raced at Le Mans in the 1970s, the ‘LM P2’ prototype by Signatech-Alpine has been christened ‘Alpine A450’.

Although Alpine is looking very much towards the future, it has not forgotten its extraordinary heritage. The Alpine A450 name raced at and – in the case of the A442B – won at Le Mans in the 1970s.

The 450b is driven in the WEC by Paul-Loup Chatain, Nelson Panciatici and Vincent Capillaire.

Alpine History

Alpine was born out of one man’s love for the Renault 4CV, his love for racing it and his considerable commercial acumen. Born in 1922, to the proprietor of a Renault dealership appointed by Louis Renault himself, Jean Rédélé was himself a Renault dealer by the age of 24. But first he went to business school and took an internship with Renault, his ground-breaking views on business strategy seeing him summoned by Renault CEO Pierre Dreyfus. That earned him the Renault concession in Dieppe.

Motorsport came four years later in 1950, Rédélé concluding that ‘racing is the best way to test production cars and victory is the best sales tool.’ He chose the brand new Renault 4CV as the vehicle for his competition ambitions. And won the Rallye de Dieppe on his second appearance, beating plenty of more powerful cars on the way. That lead to Renault providing a racing version of the 4CV for an attempt on the 1951 Rallye Monte Carlo, his fourth in class improving through the season until outright victory came in the Tour de Belgique.

But to go faster still, Rédélé concluded that the 4CV needed a lighter, more aerodynamic body, and so commissioned designer Giovanni Michelotti to design him one and in the meantime won his class in the 1952 Mille Miglia, and just missed out on a class win in at the Le Mans 24 Hours in the same year, both in the same racing 4 CV. 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. That meant a lot to him even if, deep down, he knew he would soon have to choose between driving his cars and driving his business.

The Michelotti-designed 4CV Spécial Sport would, by slightly circuitous means, become the Alpine A106 and Rédélé’s first production car.

‘I chose the name Alpine for my company because for me, this is an adjective that epitomises the pleasure of driving on mountain roads. The most fun I ever had behind the wheel was driving through the Alps in my five-speed 4CV, and it was essential for me that my customers should experience this same level of enjoyment in the car I wanted to build. In this respect, the name Alpine is both symbolic and entirely appropriate.’

Rédélé quickly appreciated the potential of a car brand, which he wanted to build based upon some basic principles. The cars should be innovative, equipped with simple but competitive mechanicals beneath a lightweight, attractive body, whilst using the greatest number of mass-produced parts possible in order to ensure low prices and maintenance costs in relation to the car’s performance.

His second aim was to boost his company’s domestic activity with the provision of international licences. Realising that his cars were relatively straightforward to assemble and that their Renault mechanicals made them reliable and easier to repair, he set about finding partners in markets where Renault was already present. Eventually Alpines would be assembled in Brazil, Spain and Mexico in some quantity, and in smaller numbers in Bulgaria.

This he achieved with the A106’s successor, the A108 a prelude to the legendary A110 that would cement the Alpine name as a major sports car marque capable of winning world championships. The Renault R8-based A110 Berlinette also achieved commercial success. Rédélé created a new Parisian branch by opening a Renault dealership in Epinay sur Seine, where he installed Alpine’s commercial headquarters, and in 1969 opened the now famous factory in Dieppe. Meanwhile the A110 Berlinette evolved constantly with ever-larger engines and minor but plentiful aesthetic changes. By 1977 some 7,500 had been produced, and the car had shone in every competitive arena it had entered from rallying to circuit racing and even ice-racing.

The A110 was a hugely competitive rally car in the late ‘60s and early 1970s, an eight year streak of repeated podium successes winning Alpine the World Rally Championship in 1973. Rédélé was nevertheless envisaging a completely new car. The A310, presented at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show, was initially offered with a 140bhp 1605cc four cylinder engine and later a 150bhp V6. More sophisticated than the A110, it was partly designed by Rédélé himself and intended to establish the brand in the sportscar and grand tourer market. Although the 1973 fuel crisis dented sales, over 11,600 were made before production ended in 1985, and it saw competition success in its early years, until the mid-engined Renault 5 Turbo – also produced at Dieppe – became the machine to beat.

Alpine’s motorsport ambitions lead a parallel life on the circuit with sports prototypes, the marque debuting at Le Mans in 1963. Initially, Alpine targeted performance and efficiency rather than outright victory. With their small 1000cc or 1300cc Gordini engines the cars were able to defeat their rivals thanks particularly to their carefully honed aerodynamics, an M64 winning its class at Le Mans in 1964. Plenty of success would follow, and some striking machines with it. Even Général de Gaulle was stopped in his tracks by the A211 when it featured on the Renault stand at the Paris Motor Show. The French President asked Rédélé, ‘What purpose does motor racing serve?’ To which he replied: ‘To put France on top, General!’.

Alpine contested the famous 24-hour race 11 times between 1963 and 1978, running a total of 55 factory cars. In addition to its successes in the ‘Energy Index’ classification in 1964, 1965 and 1968, as well as in the ‘Performance Index’ classification in 1968 and 1969, its efforts harvested seven class wins in total and, above all, outright victory in 1978 with the Alpine A442B prototype shared by Jean-Pierre Jaussaud and Didier Pironi. It was after this performance that the endurance programme was halted to concentrate instead on Renault’s 1.5-litre Turbo Formula 1 car, this developed out of the A500 single-seater developed by André de Cortanze, who headed Alpine’s research department.

Meanwhile the A310 was replaced in 1984 by the GTA (Grand Tourisme Alpine), this car benefiting from a very innovative build process, its body being the first in Europe to be constructed by means of high-pressure injection. This technique enabled the polyester body to be bonded to the chassis for excellent rigidity. The GTA also featured a very low drag coefficient and a well-furnished cabin that was a world away from the sparse cockpit of the A110.

Initially equipped with a 2849cc engine producing 160hp, the GTA was soon offered with a turbo, this 200bhp version the fastest French production car at the time. A 1990 facelift turned the GTA into the A610, production of all three versions reaching nearly 7000 units by 1995. Following the end of production of the A610, the Dieppe factory – which has always retained the Alpine logo on its walls – produced numerous performance models for Renault Sport.

After the agile ‘Renault 5 Alpine’ – nicknamed ‘skateboard’ following its performance on the 1978 Rallye Monte-Carlo – it produced 5112 mid-engine Renault 5 Turbos, 1685 Spiders from 1996 to 1999 and no less than 67,000 examples of the much-praised Clio Renaultsport from 2000 to the present day. Dieppe also built 1,333 Clio V6s between 2002-05 and continues to build an assortment of race cars including over 700 Clio Cup models.

Since 2012, Alpine has enjoyed an inspiring period of enthusiastic creativity and renewed momentum. Revived by the 50th anniversary of the Berlinette and brought to life in the shape of the stunning A110-50 concept, the brand has been preparing a new production car, and escalating a very successful return to motorsport.

Alpine’s motorsport ventures not only saw the Signatech-Alpine team scooping the title in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) in 2013, but repeating this success in 2014. For 2015, the team is contesting a complete eight-round season of the World Endurance Championship (WEC), the Alpine A450b competing in the LMP2 class. The series includes the Le Mans 24 hour race itself, and although a podium was achieved in 2014, this year retirement came after 110 laps. But the determined character of Alpine’s endurance racing history indicates that this is far from the end.