Is the Alpine A110 the discerning man’s classic car bargain of the moment?
I was inspired to do this Fantasy Friday post by a photo feature on Petrolicious earlier this week. There’s a sample of it above. Click here to see the full shoot.
You might be familiar with the Alpine A110. Or maybe you haven’t heard of it. Or perhaps you’re like me and have only come across it relatively recently. I’ve only been aware of this elegant classic for a few years thanks to a friend’s interest in Renault Sport vehicles.
So what is the Alpine A110, aside from staggeringly beautiful?
The Renault-Alpine A110
Before you get to the A110, you have to start with Alpine (read it with a French accent and say Alpin).
Alpine was started by the outrageously over-accented Jean Rédélé in a town called Dieppe. Jean wanted to race French cars after the war and started with the Renault 4CV (which rumour has it was a car that played a remarkably shadowy part in the personal history of one Ferdinand Porsche).
Right: My favourite Alpine photo
He met with success early at the Mille Miglia and various rallies in his native France. His success at the Coupe des Alpes and his love for racing in the French mountains gave the company its name.
Alpine’s first car was a re-bodied 4CV called the A106, which was followed by the A108. The A108 used a Renault engine tuned by Gordini, which is interesting in tangential terms because Renault eventually bought both Alpine and Gordini and from the ashes of those two companies, started the RenaultSport brand than continues today.
The Alpine A110 featured a fibreglass body on a steel chassis. Early cars used a small 1100cc engine producing just 66hp but a Gordini-engined option soon followed with a beefier 95hp. The engine continued to grow through 1300cc up to 1600cc and a maximum output of 140hp – in a car that weighed just a little over 600kg.
Yes, you read that correctly. Just over 600kg.
I don’t know if it’s evident from the photos featured here already, but the A110 is quite small. I had the opportunity to see one in person at Targa Tasmania last year and couldn’t help but take a bunch of photos of both the A110 and it’s stable-mate, a Renault 5 Turbo. That the A110 could make the Renault 5 Turbo seem big(-ish) goes to show how much of a pocket-rocket the A110 really is.
That sort of power-weight ratio lent itself to motorsport success and Renault-Alpine won the first ever World Rally Championship with the A110 in 1973, though the car had already tasted success with the International Rally Championship in 1971 and back-to-back victories at Monte Carlo and many other rallies years before.
There are more awesome photos where that one came from at eGarage.
Here’s what you can do in an Alpine A110. The action starts 30 seconds in and take note – this is just the 1300cc model, not the bigger and more powerful 1600cc 🙂
So is the Renault-Alpine A110 the collectable bargain that I mentioned at the top of this post? Well, I’m not sure you can ever call something that can cost around £80,000 a bargain, but when you consider that you won’t even be allowed to look at a Lancia Stratos from the same era without serious six-figure sums in your pocket, it doesn’t seem too bad.
In fact, you can buy the Renault-Alpine A110 below for a mere £44,679 but there’s a catch – it was built by FASA, a Spanish contractor that built Renaults for around 50 years up until the turn of the century. So it’s not an imitation, but it’s not the most desirable version, either.
The real deal will cost you all of that £80,000 and a little bit more, but it’ll be the authentic French-built version built at Alpine’s skunkworks in Dieppe.
The car below is currently for sale in Germany. It’s just a baby with only 32,500kms on the clock, is said to retain its original paint and has had only two owners. Notably, it’s the bigger 1600cc model so you are getting maximum bang for your buck, but there’s a LOT of money involved – £85,000.
Renault celebrated the 50th anniversary of the A110 by building the A110-50 concept car in 2012. This clip features some wonderful photoshop work to pit the old against the new. Enjoy.