One of the great names in post-war French motor sport, Alpine. The brainchild of Jean Redele, the first Alpine – the A106 with Renault 4CV running gear and streamlined glassfibre coupé bodywork – was presented to Régie Renault in July 1955. This Alpine set the trend for a range of sports cars which continue to be produced even today.
In 1963 Alpine launched the formidable A110, which became the mainspring of production. Produced from 1962 through to 1977, this captivating sports two-seater rivalled the Porsche 911 for performance while being even more exclusive: the hand-built Alpines left the factory at the rate of only 10 per week in the late 1960s/early 1970s. They soon became the car to beat on the motorsport circuit and solidified the Alpine name in motoring history.
This 1969 Alpine Renault A110 is a particularly special example, and not just because it’s the rare 1300 model which was only produced for a brief period in the late 1960s. The real rarity is because it was a customer competition car, prepared by the factory for rally and racing, as detailed by the factory records. And the competition modifications weren’t just a couple of optional extras like most manufacturers. They were numerous, including a 1300 VB tuned Gordini engine (bosting an extra 20hp over a standard 1300) and most notably an entirely different lightweight Groupe 4 body, as well as a host of more subtle modifications.
The Alpine was ordered by Michel Vial, a ‘works’ Renault driver, and with the official Alpine team low on funds it become their pseudo works entry for the 1969 Tour De France Rally. Completed on the 16th September 1969, just two days later it was lining up for the iconic, gruelling Tour De France Rally, to be driven by Vial and Jean Claude Andruet. After over 5,000kms by road and 1,500kms of circuit driving the duo were lying an incredible 8th overall. However, with the finish line in sight, disaster struck and the distributor drive failed. With no way to restart the engine Andruet heroically pushed the car across the finish line, eventually finishing in 15th position overall, and cementing his name in the history of the great race.
After the dramatic Tour Auto the car was sold by the Alpine factory to a French husband and wife team who rallied the car privately before eventually selling it to the USA in 1977. It would remain in the US, largely unused, having just two owners until it was bought by the current owner in 1990. When purchased it was amazingly complete and original, retaining its original paint work including the painted on French registration number. Once in the UK it underwent a sympathetic restoration spanning almost 10 years. The result is the car you see here today – an extremely original A110, presented as it raced in the fabled 1969 Tour De France.
Complete with a superb history file that includes correspondence from its original drivers and a large number of spares and original parts, rarely do such inimitable cars like this become available.