Réédition partielle de la collection Alpine Renault  - Construisez l’Alpine A110 1600S Berlinette


The Coupe des Alpes was one of the mayor rally events on the calendar in the 1960s and was won several times by Alpine, particularly in the year 1968 where Jean Vinatier won the rally.

The Coupe des Alpes, the rally known to our British friends as the Alpine Rally, sounds familiar, doesn't it? Yes, it does! And that's where the name of our favourite brand comes from, to celebrate Jean Rédélé's victory in this race in 1954.

Coupe des Alpes: The Alpine pictured with the Alps in the background,  that gave this legendary race its name. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo © Renault Communication / D.R.

At the time, the Coupe des Alpes was a very important event, but the last time it took place was in 1971, with Bernard Darniche and his Alpine A110 1600 taking victory. The event was first organised between the wars, but was then highly selective. After the end of the Second World War, in 1946, the "Rallye des Alpes françaises" reappeared, starting in Marseille. The following year, it became the "International Rally of the Alps" as the route covered mountain passes linking France, Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland. There were very few special stages at the time, mainly timed runs where it was very difficult to clock in on time. Those who completed the rally's 3,000 km without any penalties were awarded a cup, known as the "Alpine Cup", which would later give the rally its definitive name. In total, 166 Alpine Cups were granted between 1938 and 1971.

In the 1950s, the race started for the first time with a ranking of the competitors. Up until then, only the distribution of cups had marked the end of the event, which subsequently acquired its letters of nobility by becoming one of the rounds of the European Rally Championship. In 1954, Jean Rédélé won the Coupe des Alpes. Every famous driver dreamed of winning - or winning a cup - at this rally. And those who won came back, as the event was unique because a silver cup was awarded to anyone who won three Alpine Cups, and a gold cup to anyone who won three in a row (see inset).

Jean Vinatier and his Alpine 1600 at a checkpoint during the 1968 Coupe des Alpes. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo © Renault Communication / D.R.


Following a victory for Jean-François Piot's R8 Gordini in 1966, the time had come for the Alpine A110s to shine: they were only just coming of age, thanks to the R8 Gordini's engine. In 1968, the Dieppe-based brand entered several A110s, not including the cars of private competitors: an excellent Alpine presence, with different levels of preparation, ranging from the very sharp to the practically standard, with engines in 1300 or 1440 capacity prepared by Mignotet. All this was necessary, as there were a number of great entries. Facing the Alpines of Vinatier, Piot, Andruet, Henry, Larrousse or Nicolas, there was the formidable Lancia of Trautmann, the Opel Kadett 1900 of Greder, the Ford Escort of Clark, not forgetting the very competitive Alfa Romeos of Barailler, Bianchi or Verrier. It's off to Marseille for three intense days! Sixty-four competitors were present. The weather conditions were set for heavy rain on this first stage, which covered almost 1,400 km to Aix-les-Bains. Not everyone made it to the finish, far from it, as the elimination race kicked off and only got tougher, aided by the very difficult conditions. Despite some withdrawals, there were nevertheless two Alpines in the lead, close to the Alfa Romeo of the Gamet brothers: the two 1440s of Piot and Vinatier. Jean-François Jacob describes in his book, aptly entitled Coupe des Alpes, his rallies as a team-mate of Jean Vinatier.Il faut bien tout cela car il y a du beau monde. Face aux Alpine de Vinatier, Piot, Andruet, Henry, Larrousse ou Nicolas, nous trouvons ainsi la redoutable Lancia de Trautmann, l’Opel Kadett 1900 de Greder, la Ford Escort de Clark, sans oublier les très compétitives Alfa Romeo de Barailler, Bianchi ou Verrier. 

C’est parti pour trois jours intenses depuis Marseille ! Soixante-quatre concurrents sont présents. Les conditions météo sont à la pluie battante pour cette première étape de près de 1 400 km jusqu’à Aix-les-Bains. Tous ne seront pas à l’arrivée, loin de là, car la course par élimination commence et ne fait que s’amplifier, bien aidée par ces conditions très difficiles.

Malgré des abandons, on trouve déjà deux Alpine en tête du classement, sur les talons de l’Alfa Romeo des frères Gamet : les deux 1440 de Piot et Vinatier. Jean-François Jacob raconte dans son livre justement intitulé Coupe des Alpes ses rallyes en tant qu’équipier de Jean Vinatier.

Assistance in rallying was often provided in unlikely places, as here at a farmyard during the 1968 Coupe des Alpes. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo ©  Renault Communication / D.R.


The second day involved a loop around Aix-les-Bains, shorter in distance (800 km); with good conditions once again, you'd think things would be a lot easier, but the string of withdrawals continued: Larrousse, Consten, Nicolas and above all Jean-Claude Gamet, while the mechanics of Jean-François Piot's Alpine showed signs of fatigue which forced him to retire from the race at the end of the day. The Vinatier/Jacob duo continued to run a perfect race, completing all the stages without penalties, winning decisive stages and taking the lead of the rally. But halfway through the stage, it was Vinatier who was grumbling: the oil pressure warning light had started to come on sporadically. This was very bad news. At the next service point, the diagnosis was confirmed: there was a huge lack of oil in the engine. A top-up was made, a 10-litre can was taken on board, and off to the galley: Jean-François Jacob describes in his book that, although the duo of driver and co-driver was inseparable in both successes and failures, the Alpine's future victory was down to Vinatier's qualities, who was able both to handle his engine with care and to keep his rivals at a distance.

Also during the 1968 Coupe des Alpes, an Alpine crosses central France, and the spectators are there! © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo ©  Renault Communication / D.R.


All the Alpine assistance was focused on the A110 of Vinatier/Jacob, which consumed up to four litres of oil per 100 km on the third and final stage to Antibes, the end of the rally. At the finish, the order was respected. The Alpine won the rally ahead of the Alfa of Barailler/Favel and the Lancia of the Trautmanns, with Claude Henry's A110 in fourth position. In the end, it was an excellent podium finish, after a race of magnificent intelligence on the part of the winners. It was from this point onwards that Jean Vinatier became known as "Jeannot l'Alpin" (Jeannot of the Alps).

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The Alpine GT4, a sporting image

While Alpine specialised in sports cars, with the 4CV-powered A106, the Dauphine-powered A108 and the R8's 4-cylinder engine in the A110, Jean Rédélé decided to expand his range with a model capable of carrying roughly four passengers. It was Chappe & Gessalin coachbuilders,  who were to work on this GT4. The launch of the Berlinette in 1962 provided an opportunity to revisit the basic lines in order to develop a less exclusive model: the GT4 was ready for launch.

In 1968, Alpine had an extensive range of cars, including Berlinettes, single-seaters, prototypes and the GT4 (far right). © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo ©  Renault Communication / D.R.

A long career

With the exception of the Berlinette, the GT4 was Alpine's longest-running car, despite low sales figures: only 263 models were ever produced. Presented at the Paris Motor Show at the end of 1962 at a price of 15,450 francs (23,000 euros today), it was not withdrawn from the catalogue until 1969, a total of seven model years. The R8's 956 cm3 51 bhp engine was used for the very first models, 20 of which were produced and labelled A108 L (for 'Longue'). All subsequent models were A110 Ls. The following year, the 956 engine was replaced by the Caravel's 1,108 cm3 engine with 66 bhp from the Caravelle (type V70). In 1965, the latter was retained, supported by the R8 Gordini with the same cubic capacity (V100) but increased to 103 bhp SAE. These two were still present in 1966, when the formidable 1,296 cm3 engine refined by Mignotet was added. With its 120 bhp SAE, it pushed the GT4 to speeds in excess of 200 km/h. The new 1,255 cm3 Gordini 105 bhp was added to the range in 1967.

The GT4, nicknamed "the Grasshopper", made its final racing appearance at the Targa Florio in 1967. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo ©  Renault Communication / D.R.

Optional extras to give extra margin 

Jean Rédélé had a credo he always followed: to offer basic models with a very wide range of available options.  The reason for this was very simple: all the optional extras were sold at full price, with a substantial profit margin! The GT4 was no exception to this rule, and customers could opt for a five-speed gearbox, four rear shock absorbers, leather upholstery, a car radio, long-range headlights, etc. The most expensive basic version was the 1300 S, sold for 27,200 francs (32,000 euros today) in 1967 and 1968, but once again the options could add up to a hefty final bill. The 5-speed gearbox, power-assisted brake booster and metallic paintwork all added to the price.

Although it could carry four passengers, the GT4 retained the look of a sports car. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo ©Renault Communication / D.R.

Going international 

In the early 1960s, Jean Rédélé formed partnerships to sell his cars in Mexico, Brazil and Spain. In Central America, Diesel Nacional, under the name Dinalpin, produced just a little under 120 units of the GT4. Everything was produced locally, with only Renault components being imported, along with the Gordini engines, which were never assembled in Mexico. Although Brazil and Spain produced a number of Berlinettes, the GT4 was apparently not one of them. A few sports car owners entered their GT4s in competition, but the A110's appearance at the same time certainly killed these initiatives completely in the bud. Although playful, with its 600 kg empty weight, the GT4 was never able to rival the diabolical efficiency of its sister car, which rapidly established itself as the absolute winner in rallying. All that remained for the GT4 was the possibility of taking the whole family on some 'twisty' outings to enjoy the benefits of the first 'family' Alpine, albeit a sporty one!

The Dinalpin brand produced around 120 units of the GT4 in Mexico. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo ©Renault Communication / D.R.


1950 : Ian Appleyard/Pat Appleyard (GB, Jaguar) 

1951 : Ian Appleyard/Pat Appleyard (GB, Jaguar, coupe des Alpes, coupe d’or) 

1952 : Alex von Falkenhausen/Kitty von Falkenhausen (D, BMW) 

1953 : Helmut Polensky/Walter Schler (D, Porsche) 

1954 : Wolfgang Denzel/Hubert Stroinigg (S, Porsche) 

1955 : Épreuve annulée suite à l’accident du Mans 

1956 : Paul Ernst Strähle/Hans Encher (D, Porsche) 

1957 : Épreuve annulée suite à la crise de Suez 

1958 : Bernard Consten/Roger de Lageneste (F, Alfa Romeo) 

1959 : Paul Condrillier/Georges Robin (F, Renault Dauphine) 

1960 : Roger de Lageneste/Henri Greder (F, Alfa Romeo) 

1961 : Don Morley/Erle Morley (GB, Austin Healey) 

1962 : Don Morley/Erle Morley (GB, Austin Healey, coupe des Alpes) 

1963 : Jean Rolland/Gaby Augias (F, Alfa Romeo) 

1964 : Jean Rolland/Gaby Augias (F, Alfa Romeo, coupe des Alpes) 

1965 : Bernard Consten/Jean Hébert (F, Alfa Romeo) 

1966 : Jean-François Piot/Jean-François Jacob (F, R8 Gordini) 

1967 : Paddy Hopkirk/ Ron Crellin (GB, Morris Cooper, coupe des Alpes) 

1968 : Jean Vinatier/Jean-François Jacob (F, Alpine A110 1440) 

1969 : Jean Vinatier/Jean-François Jacob (F, Alpine A110 1440, coupe des Alpes, coupe d’or) 

1970 : Épreuve annulée par décision préfectorale 

1971 : Bernard Darniche/Alain Mahé (F, Alpine A110 1600)

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