The AAA (Association des Anciens d’Alpine – Association of Alpine former staff and aficionados) is bringing together fans of the brand in Dieppe from September 11-13, 2015, for the largest gathering in the marque’s history to mark Alpine’s 60th anniversary.
Current Alpine representatives will be out in force alongside loyal aficionados to help celebrate the 60th birthday of the company that was founded by Jean Rédélé back in 1955. The project teams led by Bernard Ollivier, as well as Philippe Sinault’s Signatech-Alpine endurance racing team and its drivers will similarly join the party, bringing with them the Alpine Vision Gran Turismo concept car, the Alpine Celebration show car and the A450B racing car.
More than 750 Alpines and their owners – not to mention thousands of interested visitors – are expected to attend from across Europe. Thanks to the presence of many well-known drivers linked to the brand from its origins right up to the modern day, plus a packed programme of activities and an eclectic range of entertainment, the gathering is poised to break all records in terms of participation, spectacle and emotion.
ALPINE JOINS FORCES WITH ITS FORMER STAFF AND AFICIONADOS
Since 2012, Alpine has been enjoying a period of effervescence, passion and creativity. Inspired by the 50th anniversary of the legendary Berlinette and brought to life in the form of the spectacular A110-50, Alpine’s rebirth grabbed further headlines with a triumphant return to the racetrack with the A450 in 2013 – a success that was consolidated in 2014 by a second consecutive endurance racing crown in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS).
2015 marks a significant milestone during this exciting period of renewal, not only because of the 60th anniversary celebrations for Jean Rédélé’s brand, but also thanks to a flurry of creative flair.
Organised by the AAA, this weekend in Dieppe provides Alpine with an opportunity to share this fever and enthusiasm with all the members of its extended family who will be able to get up close to the following unique cars that have characterised the year:
- The Alpine Vision Gran Turismo, a full-scale version of the virtual concept car
- The Alpine Celebration, sporting a special new Dieppe livery
- The A450-B which is competing for the first time in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
Bernard Ollivier, CEO of Société des Automobiles Alpine, believes this weekend dedicated to the Alpine story will live forever in the memories of those who attend:
“Organising the largest-ever gathering of Alpine aficionados in Dieppe to celebrate the brand’s 60th anniversary clearly represents a colossal challenge. It is, however, a challenge to which the AAA’s volunteer teams have risen magnificently, with the support of their partners, the city of Dieppe, the wider Dieppe Maritime conurbation, the department and the region. There have been painstaking preparations and a great many logistical hurdles have had to be overcome to allow us to enjoy what promises to be an unforgettable weekend – one that will be marked by friendship, sharing and enthusiasm. In other words, a thoroughly Alpine weekend!
I am particularly humbled by the magnitude of this impressive undertaking, the engagement of so many Alpine clubs from all over the world, the tremendous participation of enthusiasts who have travelled with their cars from every corner of Europe and in some cases even further afield, not to mention the opportunity it will offer to connect and interact with tens of thousands of spectators and interested observers. I have similarly been touched by the attendance of people from every profession who have played a part in the Alpine legend or who are involved in the brand’s current renaissance. I would also like to point out the presence of many drivers from every generation who have competed for Alpine in rallying, endurance racing or single-seaters – this truly is a unique moment that is unlikely to be repeated. That is why I offer my sincere and heartfelt thanks to all those who have made this exceptional event possible: it pays fitting tribute to such an auspicious anniversary and proves that the Alpine flame continues to burn bright, most notably thanks to the efforts of the brand’s aficionados and alumni.”
Bernard Ollivier, CEO, Société des Automobiles Alpine
ENTERTAINMENT AND HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEKEND – www.retroalpine.com
For everybody – exhibitors and visitors alike – the weekend’s chief attraction and focal point will be the large Alpine village located on the seafront lawn and surrounded by displays of participants’ vehicles.
At the heart of the large marquee, an exhibition of some of the brand’s most iconic models will teach attendees about Alpine’s rich history. Close by is an area entirely given over to trade stalls and specialist literature, offering visitors the opportunity to enhance their Alpine education and unearth memorabilia and scale models emblematic of their favourite brand.
Gran Turismo driving simulators will enable attendees to virtually take the wheel of the Alpine Vision Gran Turismo – with a visitors’ competition thrown in for extra spice. There will also be a special showdown between Signatech-Alpine drivers Paul-Loup Chatin, Nelson Panciatici and Vincent Capillaire, who will take each other on to set the fastest lap time around the same circuit. The winner will receive the honour of leading a huge parade of vehicles through Dieppe behind the wheel of the Alpine Celebration, designed to pay homage to Jean Rédélé. The parade will unquestionably be one of the weekend’s most popular and poignant activities.
What’s more, all those drivers present who have shone for Alpine across the various different motorsport disciplines will have the opportunity to regale fans with their stories and anecdotes from their time spent with the brand during enlightening interviews broadcast over the public address system.
Visitors to the AAA stand (Amicale des Anciens d’Alpine) will be able to discover the new book ’60 ans d’Alpine à Dieppe 1955-2015’ (60 Years of Alpine in Dieppe 1955-2015) in the company of its author Louis Granon, who will be signing copies of the first volume that is dedicated to the brand’s motorsport heritage. The AAA, meanwhile, will present the brochure that has been specially published for the occasion.
Five tourist trail routes will allow participants to ‘stretch their legs’ by setting off in search of some of the region’s most iconic locations and the people who so enthusiastically bring them to life.
Finally, the gala evening on September 12 in Saint Nicolas d’Aliermont will bring together no fewer than 900 people in the presence of Bernard Ollivier (CEO, Société des Automobiles Alpine) and Signatech-Alpine Team Manager Philippe Sinault, as well as all of the drivers and teams in charge of Alpine’s development, manufacturing and promotion.
‘THE STORY OF ALPINE’ TIMETABLE organised by the AAA
Friday, September 11
2:00pm – 6:30pm: public welcome. Vehicle set-up at the exhibition sites
2:30pm – 6:30pm: public access to the ‘Alpine Village’, exhibition areas and entertainment
6:00pm: official opening in the presence of local authorities
7:30pm: shuttle to St Nicolas
8:00pm: dinner in St Nicolas
Saturday, September 12
7:00am – 11:00am: welcome for later arrivals / set-up of the ‘static’ site
7:30am – 9:00am: departure of the various tourist trail routes
9:00am – 6:30pm: public access to the ‘Alpine Village’, exhibition areas and entertainment
3:00pm – 5:00pm: return of the tourist trail participants and set-up of the demonstrations site
5:00pm: trophy presentation to the drivers
7:30pm: shuttles to St Nicolas
8:00pm: ‘Story Evening’ in St Nicolas in the presence of J. Cheinisse, Honorary President of the AAA and former Alpine Sporting Director
Sunday, September 13
10:00am – 6:00pm: public access to the ‘Alpine Village’, exhibition areas and entertainment
10:00am – 10:30am: start of the three parades towards Dieppe’s districts
10:30am: start of the ‘Alpine Celebration’ parade towards the city centre
10:30am – 11:15am: transfer to the Alpine factory
11:30am: wreath-laying ceremony at the Jean Rédélé Memorial
SIXTY YEARS AGO… THE BIRTH OF ALPINE
With the benefit of hindsight, Jean Rédélé’s destiny was clear to see. Raised from a very young age in a world dominated by cars, racing and Renault, he also distinguished himself through an avant-garde vision of technology and business.
Born on May 17, 1922, Jean was the eldest son of Émile Rédélé, a Renault dealer based in Dieppe and formerly an official mechanic for Ferenc Szisz, the brand’s first ‘factory driver’ back at the beginning of the century. Once he had completed his studies at HEC business school in Paris, Jean came to the attention of Renault’s management for his ground-breaking business ideas. At the age of just 24, he became the youngest car dealer in France as he followed in his father’s footsteps.
Reasoning that ‘motorsport is the best way to test production cars and victory is the best sales tool’, Jean Rédélé entered his first competitive events four years later, at the age of 28.
After a trial run at the Rallye Monte-Carlo in 1950, he triumphed in the inaugural Rallye de Dieppe behind the wheel of the new 4CV, defeating a plethora of significantly more powerful rivals! This nationally-acclaimed victory convinced Renault to entrust him with a 4CV ‘1063’ – the special racing version – for the following season. While this enabled him to maintain his run of success, Jean Rédélé worked hard to improve the performance of his vehicle. This quest led him to Giovanni Michelotti, from whom he ordered a 4CV ‘Spéciale Sport’, the chief feature of which was an aluminium body that was rather more aerodynamically streamlined than the original vehicle. Over the course of time, this collaboration between the French rally driver and the Italian designer gave birth to three unique models.
While awaiting the delivery of his new car, Rédélé continued to compete in his ‘1063’ as his friend Louis Pons – a Renault dealer in Paris and Etampes – became his co-driver. Always seeking to enhance performance, the pair funded the development of a five-speed gearbox, designed by André-Georges Claude. This played a particularly important role in their record-breaking class victory in the Mille Miglia, the famous road race held between Brescia and Rome.
Jean Rédélé’s career path next took him to the Le Mans 24 Hours and Tour de France Automobile. In 1953, he finally got his hands on his 4CV ‘Spéciale’, and on his very first outing in the car, he won the 4th Rallye de Dieppe ahead of two Jaguars and a Porsche! The following year, the Rédélé/Pons pairing triumphed in their class for the third time on the Mille Miglia, before going on to prevail in the Coupe des Alpes. “I thoroughly enjoyed crossing the Alps in my Renault 4CV, and that gave me the idea of calling my future cars ‘Alpines’, so that my customers would experience that same driving pleasure,” he would later reveal.
The notion of creating his own brand preyed upon Jean Rédélé’s mind, and it was his father-in-law who helped him to turn his dream into reality. Owner of the Grand Garage de la Place de Clichy on rue Forest, Charles Escoffier was one of the leading Renault dealers of the era. When he asked his son-in-law to assist with the development and marketing of a series of ‘Coaches’ already commissioned from Gessalin & Chappe, it proved to be the catalyst for the foundation of the ‘Société des Automobiles Alpine’ on June 25, 1955.
THE A106: THE BEGINNING OF AN INCREDIBLE ADVENTURE
When envisioning his future creations, Jean Rédélé was keen to focus on the following basic principles: simple yet competitive mechanicals, using the highest proportion of production parts possible and all clothed by a lightweight and attractive body. In some respects, Charles Escoffier’s ‘Coach’ adhered to these prerequisites… even if Jean Rédélé did not take the credit for it!
Designed by Jean Gessalin and built by the Chappe brothers, the first prototype was presented by Escoffier to Renault’s management board in February, 1955. Once its homologation had been approved, Jean Rédélé made a number of modifications, borne out of the 4CVs developed in tandem with Michelotti. The ‘Coach’ took on the name A106: ‘A’ for Alpine and ‘106’ in reference to the code name of the 4CV (1062), which served as a source for parts.
At the beginning of July, three Alpine A106s in the colours of the French flag – one in blue, one white and one red – paraded through the courtyard of Renault’s headquarters in Boulogne-Billancourt. Even if he was not particularly fond of the design of the first Alpine, Jean Rédélé was nonetheless extremely proud to have become a full-fledged car manufacturer in his own right.
Mechanically, the Alpine A106 used the same chassis and suspension as the 4CV. The 747cc, four-cylinder in-line engine was offered in two versions – one producing 21hp, the other 38hp. This first Alpine stood out above all for its polyester body, fitted to the original chassis of the 4CV.
As options, it was possible to equip the A106 with the ‘Claude’ five-speed gearbox or the ‘Mille Miles’ suspension, composed of four rear shock absorbers.
True to his principles of continuous improvement – at a time before ‘Kaizen’ had entered the motor industry vocabulary – Jean Rédélé relentlessly sought to make advances to the A106. Tiring of Gessalin & Chappe’s reluctance to evolve the vehicle, the Dieppe native elected to open his own production facility: RDL. This spirit of independence was further evinced in the launch of a cabriolet version, designed by Michelotti and unveiled at the 1956 Paris Motor Show. A third variation saw the light of day in 1958: the A106 ‘Coupé Sport’ – effectively the cabriolet but with a hard-top!
With 251 cars produced between 1955 and 1960, the A106 enabled Jean Rédélé to successfully establish his business – but that was only the first phase…
A108: THE FIRST BERLINETTE
Should we talk about the A108 or the A108s? There were so many different body types and configurations that it is difficult to paint an accurate picture of the history of a model of which 236 examples were built between 1958 and 1965.
The A108 appeared for the first time at the 1957 Paris Motor Show. The body of the A106 ‘Coach’ – produced by Chappe & Gessalin – and the RDL cabriolet were initially retained, with the real changes taking place under the bonnet: the engine from the 4CV was replaced by the 845cc ‘Ventoux’ powerplant from the Renault Dauphine. Over time, it became possible to instead opt for a re-bored 904cc unit prepared by Marc Mignotet, or the 998cc engine from the Dauphine Gordini.
The style evolved too, based on a variant of the A106 conceived by Philippe Charles, a young designer aged just 17! Using the Michelotti-designed cabriolet as his starting-point, he covered the headlights with a Perspex bubble and made the rear of the car longer so as to achieve a slimmer and more streamlined shape. Jean Rédélé entered two of these berlinettes for the 1960 Tour de France Automobile (for Féret and Michy) and the model’s critical success was such that the new look was soon transferred across to the cabriolets and ‘Coupé-Sports’ produced by RDL.
Another significant corner was turned in 1961, with the generalisation of the ‘beams and backbone’ chassis across all models. This architecture was based on a robust central beam, onto which were grafted side rails that supported the front and rear sub-frames. Enhancing stiffness and reducing weight, this innovation would be the secret behind the superb handling of Alpine cars throughout the generations.
THE WILLYS-INTERLAGOS: TESTAMENT TO AN INNOVATIVE EXPORT POLICY
Whilst well aware that international expansion would likely yield fresh channels of growth, Jean Rédélé came up against insufficient finances, meaning he was unable to create and develop a traditional export network. Undeterred, he found another way in suggesting to industrial partners that they manufacture his cars under licence.
It must be said that Alpines were relatively easy to assemble, even for unqualified labour. They were also highly-regarded for their reliability, since they used mass-produced mechanical components from Renault.
Following a failure in Belgium – where less than fifty A106s were manufactured by the Small factory – it was in Brazil that Rédélé achieved a breakthrough. The Willys-Overland firm, which already manufactured Dauphines under a Renault licence, began production using equipment supplied by the Dieppe factory. From 1960, ‘Interlagos’ models – named after the famous Brazilian motor racing circuit – left the Sao Paulo workshop. At first glance, only the trained eye could distinguish an ‘Interlagos’ from its Alpine A108 sister car.
This partnership continued with the A110, and in total, around one thousand berlinettes and cabriolets were produced up until 1966.
As in France, these Alpines manufactured across the other side of the Atlantic proved to be very capable in motorsport, most notably in endurance races such as the Mil Milhas. Indeed, it was after starting out in ‘Interlagos’ models that the likes of Carlos Pace, Emerson Fittipaldi and brother Wilson Fittipaldi headed to Europe in order to climb the career ladder all the way up to Formula 1.
This collaboration served as a model for similar agreements in Mexico (Dinalpin), Spain (Fasa) and Bulgaria (Bulgaralpine). All-in-all, nearly 15 per cent of Alpines were built under licence abroad.
THE A110: QUITE SIMPLY A LEGEND
In providing the visual identity conceived by Philippe Charles and the ‘beams and backbone’ chassis architecture, the A108 laid the foundations for the A110, which appeared in 1962. As the 4CV had done for the A106 and the Dauphine for the A108, it was the R8 that acted as a parts bank for Jean Rédélé’s latest creation.
The relationship with Renault – close from the very first day – was further strengthened when the French manufacturer tasked Alpine with representing it in motorsport. What’s more, from 1967, every car produced would bear the official name ‘Alpine-Renault’.
Buoyed by the brand’s excellent results in rallying, the Berlinette went on to achieve tremendous commercial success. In order to respond to increasing demand, Alpine found itself needing to adapt its manufacturing set-up, with production henceforth shared between the workshop on avenue Pasteur, the original Dieppe factory and the new plant in Thiron-Gardais (Eure-et-Loir).
Over the course of its different versions, the A110 evolved constantly. The 1108cc engine was succeeded in-turn by 1255cc, 1296cc, 1565cc and 1605cc units. Outward changes were minor, but frequent: a grille incorporating four headlights, extended wheel arches, front radiator, removable rear apron… In 1977, production drew to a close with the 1600SX, fitted with a 1647cc powerplant.
FROM THE BERLINETTE TO THE GRAND TOURISME
Designed in compliance with the instructions of Jean Rédélé himself, the Alpine A310 looked set to enable the brand to capitalise upon the success of the Berlinette – but the oil crisis of 1973 brought a shuddering halt to the upward momentum and caused a significant drop in sales. Bit by bit, Alpine picked itself back up by evolving its new model, introducing fuel injection in 1974, the V6 PRV engine in 1976 and the same rear suspension as the Renault R5 Turbo in 1981…
In 1985, the new GTA made its debut. This model marked a further departure for Alpine from the spartan concept of the Berlinette as it turned its attentions towards the Grand Tourisme world. In its range-topping version complete with V6 Turbo engine, the GTA generated some 200hp, which led the media to dub the car as a ‘fighter jet for the road’!
In 1990, the A610 joined the Alpine line-up with a 2,963cc V6 Turbo powerplant. Despite the press praising its handling abilities and dynamic performance, this model struggled to find its niche amongst the public and was discontinued in 1995.
After production of the A610 ceased, the Dieppe factory focused its efforts on the manufacture of numerous high-performance models for Renault Sport, from the R5 Turbo to the Clio R.S., Renault Sport Spider and Clio V6, much like the Renault 5 Alpine had been made there before them. Today, this historic site – which has always proudly retained the Alpine logo on its walls – is right at the heart of the brand’s rebirth.
THE ALPINE RENAISSANCE
Frequently debated and palpably desired by fans for almost 20 years, the Alpine brand’s revival by Renault needed to be handled correctly if it was to prove a success. Expectations were so high that disappointment simply wasn’t an option!
The unveiling of the Alpine A110-50 concept car to mark the 50th anniversary of the Berlinette in 2012 represented a timely litmus test as to whether the interest was still strong. It was.
On November 5, 2012, Carlos Ghosn officially announced the rebirth of Alpine and a design project for a ‘21st Century Berlinette’, scheduled for completion in 2016.
When no fewer than five A110s were entered for the 2013 edition of Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique – 40 years on from Alpine’s famous one-two-three finish in 1973 – the enthusiasm generated was such that reneging on the decision to revive the brand was no longer an option!
With Bernard Ollivier at its helm, Société des Automobiles Alpine is now hard at work on the new ‘21st Century Berlinette’. The general concept and style are already fixed, with efforts currently focused on the design of individual parts, modelling and production. To this end, substantial investment has been made in the Dieppe factory, while disguised prototypes have been on the road to evaluate a variety of different technological solutions.
Whilst preparing for the introduction of this new model, Alpine is honouring its proud motorsport heritage with a hugely successful participation in the European Le Mans Series and – since the beginning of 2015 – the WEC (World Endurance Championship). This period has also seen the brand’s return to the Le Mans 24 Hours.
In 2015, away from the racetrack, Alpine has also stolen the limelight by successively unveiling two significant show cars.
- The Alpine Vision Gran Turismo: as the star of an eponymously-named video game, this car embodies all the passion so synonymous with Alpine by blending sportiness and modernity. The Alpine Vision Gran Turismo projects Alpine’s famous arrowed ‘A’ logo into a new dimension in an entirely original manner.
- The Alpine Celebration: the clue here is very much in the name – this show car has been specially designed to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the company founded by Jean Rédélé. Drawing upon the stylistic cues of some of the most iconic cars from the brand’s history, the Alpine Celebration pays tribute to Alpine’s motorsport-honed DNA and created surprise and emotion with its appearances at the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours and Goodwood Festival of Speed earlier in the year.
THE ALPINE VISION GRAN TURISMO
The Alpine Vision Gran Turismo – fruit of the collective imagination of the designers and engineers entrusted with developing the 21st Century Berlinette –blasted into homes all over the world in March, 2015. Every owner of the game Gran Turismo 6 can download this virtual model and find themselves behind the wheel of the most incredible Alpine yet. As the icing on the cake and to appeal to the eyes, this concept car has also been produced in the form of a full-scale model.
The story began in July, 2013, when Polyphony Digital Inc. – the studio responsible for the development of PlayStation® Gran Turismo – encouraged Alpine to take up the challenge of designing a virtual car. On both sides of the table, the enthusiasm and passion for this project were mutual. The Alpine teams immediately threw themselves into the exciting initiative with the same commitment as they have shown for the development of the forthcoming road model.
An in-house competition involving around 15 designers was won by the project submitted by Victor Sfiazof: “It’s a genuine sportscar which combines the passion for cars with enjoyment behind the wheel. There are numerous references to the past, present and future. The idea of a ‘barquette’ stemmed from the Alpine A450’s involvement in the Le Mans 24 Hours. That said, the front end takes its inspiration from the A110, and the vertical fins at the rear recall the A210 and A220 while making a real contribution to the car’s styling. As an aeronautic fan, I wanted to incorporate cues from the world of aviation, too. The airbrakes add a nice high-tech touch to the rear end. This exclusive model similarly integrates hints of the future Alpine, but we can’t say any more about that just yet!”
The guided tour of the Alpine Vision Gran Turismo begins with the front of the car, which bears a striking resemblance to the A110. The sloping V-shaped bonnet is enhanced by a central crease and, in another nod to the 1960s, the cross-shaped LED lights recall the black tape that was used to protect the additional lights fitted to the Berlinette rally cars. These references to the past blend in seamlessly with an undeniably modern aerodynamic package which includes a splitter designed to channel airflow along the body sides. It also provides a glimpse of the suspension wishbones.
The car’s profile awakens other memories. The air that escapes behind the front wheels is directed through large intakes, which accentuate the narrow form of the body. Complementing the overall harmony, the long lateral rear fins call to mind the A210s and A220s which shone so brilliantly in the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The appeal of the Alpine Vision Gran Turismo is further enhanced by its open cockpit. The driver sits on the right, a design typical of sport-prototype cars given that the majority of circuits run in a clockwise direction.
The rear-end design – the most popular view amongst gamers – represents an unmistakeable highlight of the Alpine Vision Gran Turismo. The flat bottom that runs beneath the car terminates in arched form, while a lower wing links the wheel arches to the stern. As at the front, the bodywork exposes the double wishbone suspension. The most striking characteristics of the Alpine Vision Gran Turismo become apparent under braking. Integrated into the profile of the tail, the hydraulically-activated airbrakes can be deployed in an instant, while at the same time revealing the brake lights!
The Alpine Vision Gran Turismo might be a virtual machine, but it was nonetheless duty-bound to adopt driving dynamics and handling characteristics worthy of its glorious predecessors. Terry Baillon, a simulation and chassis development engineer for the forthcoming production model, therefore treated this vehicle as if it would one day take to the road for real: “Right from the outset of the project, we set performance and handling targets for the Alpine Vision Gran Turismo. We then transcribed them into technical characteristics, with the object of achieving driving dynamics for players that are in keeping with what we envisioned back at the start. We used our own software in the development, before sending our data to Polyphony Digital to enable them to model the vehicle within the context of the video game.”
In front of the screen and holding either a steering wheel or a PlayStation Dual Shock® controller, long test sessions were required in order to refine the settings of the car. Blending elements of both the Alpine A450 racing car and the 21st Century Berlinette, the Alpine Vision Gran Turismo offers a few glimpses of the driving dynamics of the forthcoming road-going model, while at the same time displaying characteristics specific to Le Mans prototypes. Being a true Alpine, the accent is placed very much upon agility, spirit and driving enjoyment!
THE ALPINE CELEBRATION DIEPPE SHOW CAR
A compact sportscar inspired by Alpine’s motorsport heritage, the Alpine Celebration presented here in its Dieppe livery is a two-seater coupé with sleek, flowing lines. Its deep blue colour scheme recalls that of the Alpine prototype that made a victorious return to endurance racing in 2013, whilst its original detailing – created especially for the large Dieppe gathering – offers a clear nod to the rallying successes of the A110, which saw Alpine crowned world champion in 1973.
The Alpine Celebration Dieppe faithfully replicates the timeless style and attributes of Alpines of old whilst adding a modern twist. Its low profile, sloping, creased bonnet, sculpted sides, distinctive rear window and further details all pay homage to the A110 and other iconic models that have featured so prominently throughout Alpine’s glorious history.
With no need for gimmickry to stand out from the crowd, the beauty of the Alpine Celebration Dieppe is to be found in its simplicity. Mindful of remaining elegant whilst at the same time responding to the need for frugality and efficiency, the Alpine Celebration Dieppe show car reveals much about the brand’s heritage. It retains a familiar style and set of values which it integrates in a thoroughly modern manner. Carbon touches highlight the most technologically-advanced elements of the car’s body, such as the spoiler, lower side sill panels, diffuser, rear air intakes and door mirrors.
The positioning of the masked double headlamps and the central beams 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 an ingenious means of keeping them intact should they break.
The spoiler, which frames the vehicle’s evocative front end, is symbolic of strength and support, whilst efficiency is enhanced by the straight, sharp lines of the lower side sill panels. The door mirrors, meanwhile, take the form of a thin mirror that appears to float free of its housing to improve the car’s dynamic stance, as well as to exude a sense of light weight and aerodynamic efficiency. The famous Alpine arrowed ‘A’ can be seen on the air intake grille, the sides, the front wings and the roof.
The design of the wheel rims recalls a style that was popular on the A110 and A310 models during the 1970s. They reveal the prominent front brake discs and orange brake callipers. In the middle is a cast-look aluminium hub, which contributes to the overall design.
The athletic rear design incorporates the air intakes into the rear panels in order to facilitate engine cooling. The engine cover – which can be spied through the rear window shutters – confirms the mid-rear positioning of the engine block.
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 exhaust tailpipes in polished stainless steel. The approach throughout is very clearly to highlight the structural elements of the car rather than try to conceal them, which in turn prioritises lightweight agility and performance.
That said, the true focus of the presentation of the Alpine Celebration Dieppe is to be found in its design – all flowing, sensual curves – which single-handedly symbolises the very essence of French automotive style.
MOTORSPORT: A CONSTANT THEME THROUGHOUT ALPINE’S HISTORY
Founded by a skilled driver, Alpine is a brand whose history is punctuated by success in motorsport, from the Rallye Monte-Carlo to the Le Mans 24 Hours!
Even if the characteristics of the A106 ‘Coach’ did not particularly lend themselves to racing, in the hands of drivers of the calibre of Jacques Féret and Jean Vinatier, it nonetheless succeeded in securing some very creditable results, not to mention the outstanding second place claimed by Jean Rédélé himself on the 1955 Mille Miglia. Motorsport also served as the catalyst for the development and evolution of the A108, while providing the baseline for the A110.
Beginning in 1963, Alpine pitted itself against the gruelling Le Mans 24 Hours, targeting the ‘Performance Index’ and ‘Efficiency Index’ accolades rather than outright victory. With their small Gordini engines, the Alpines stood out for their aerodynamic efficiency. Two victories ensued, in 1964 with the M64 crewed by Henry Morrogh / Roger Delageneste and again two years later with the A210 piloted by Jacques Cheinisse / Roger Delageneste. There were also one-two-three finishes in the Energy Index classification in 1966 and 1968.
The Alpine name also achieved success in single-seaters, with Henri Grandsire winning the French F3 Championship in 1964. Several years later, Patrick Depailler (1971) and Michel Leclère (1972) repeated the feat.
In rallying, the A110 Berlinette swiftly showed itself to be a potent force. In 1968, Gérard Larrousse came close to winning in Monte-Carlo, but it was the team of ‘Musketeers’ who truly earned the Dieppe-based manufacturer its spurs within the sport. Alpine-Renault sporting director Jacques Cheinisse recruited a ‘dream team’ composed of Jean-Pierre Nicolas, Jean-Claude Andruet, Bernard Darniche and Jean-Luc Thérier. Other drivers would subsequently bolster this legendary quartet, such as Ove Andersson who triumphed in Monte-Carlo in 1971.
In 1973, the Alpine-Renault squad competed for the very first World Rally Championship title. The season began superbly, with a one-two-three finish for Andruet, Andersson and Nicolas in Monte-Carlo. Across 13 rounds, the Berlinette won six times and on every type of terrain: Monte-Carlo (Andruet), Portugal (Thérier), Morocco (Darniche), Acropolis (Thérier), Sanremo (Thérier) and Tour de Corse (Nicolas). The last of those victories saw Alpine conclude the campaign in fine style, with another top three lock-out to write the closing chapter of an extraordinary story! These results crowned Alpine-Renault World Champion, ahead of rivals Fiat Abarth and Ford.
The 1973 season also witnessed the re-launch of Alpine’s endurance racing programme, which had been halted after the disappointment of the A220 at the end of the 1960s. This time, the brand had the top step of the podium firmly in its sights. Victory edged closer year by year until it was finally achieved in 1978. Behind the wheel of the Alpine Renault A442-B, Jean-Pierre Jaussaud and Didier Pironi triumphed ahead of the A442 (crewed by Guy Fréquelin and Jean Ragnotti) which came fourth.
With its mission accomplished, Renault was able to turn its attentions towards Formula 1 with its 1.5-litre V6 turbo engine.
The Alpine A310 similarly enjoyed its days in the sun, tasting glory with Jean Ragnotti, Bruno Saby and Jean-Pierre Beltoise – French Rallycross Champions in successive years from 1977 to 1979 – as well as Guy Fréquelin, the 1977 French Rally Champion.
Following the organisation of the Alpine Europa Cup – contested as a curtain-raiser to Formula 1 Grands Prix with the GTA model – the brand’s motorsport activities drew to a close in 1988.
At the end of 2012, when Alpine’s revival was officially announced, a return to motorsport was immediately mooted. After forging a partnership with Signatech, the brand entered both the European endurance championship (ELMS) and the Le Mans 24 Hours. During its very first season (2013), the A450 lifted the European laurels. The Signatech-Alpine squad successfully defended its ELMS crown in 2014, while at the same time clinching an LMP2 class podium finish at Le Mans. This performance was accompanied by seventh position in the overall classification – the second-best result in the brand’s history at La Sarthe after its 1978 victory! Now the story is set to continue in 2015, with a confirmed ongoing commitment to endurance racing…
THE ALPINE A450B
Its name evokes the heritage of the A441, A442, A442b and A443 that raced and won at Le Mans during the 1970s.
An evolution of the Alpine A450 that made its competitive debut in 2013, it pays tribute to the brand’s illustrious sporting history – the ‘50’ symbolises the 50th anniversary of the first participation of a factory Alpine in the Le Mans 24 Hours back in 1963.
The Alpine A450B complies with the ACO’s LMP2 regulations which place the emphasis on the sort of creative frugality that the brand similarly embraces.
Although these prototypes feature a carbon monocoque chassis, they must adhere to very strict cost criteria.
After clinching back-to-back championship titles in the ELMS’s LMP2 category in 2013 (the car’s maiden season) and 2014, and after claiming a class podium finish in the Le Mans 24 Hours last year, Signatech-Alpine is currently competing in the FIA WEC (World Endurance Championship) with its all-French driver line-up of Paul-Loup Chatin, Nelson Panciatici and Vincent Capillaire.
Two technical evolutions are permitted per year: one prior to the opening round of the season and another ahead of the Le Mans 24 Hours (June).
Based upon a proven package, the Alpine A450B is powered by an engine derived from a powerplant that can be found under the bonnet of road cars produced by the Renault-Nissan Alliance.
Chassis: Alpine A450B
Engine: V8 Nissan VK45 550hp
Transmission: XTrac 6-speed
Top speed: 330kph
Steering: hydraulic power steering
Brakes: carbon – Brembo