To mark the 50th anniversary of the iconic Renault Berlinette, designer Yann Jarsalle and concept and show car director Axel Breun reinterpreted the original design cues to include the new Renault design language introduced by Laurens van den Acker with the DEZIR concept car, and which will soon be rolled out in the company’s future models.
The new front-end look, with the upright, confident diamond, has been adapted for this very low and wide car. The Renault Alpine A110- 50 is a car of today; a bold embodiment of RENAULT’s passion for motorsport.
1962 – A star is born
When Jean Rédélé unveiled the A110 Berlinette at the 1962 Paris Motor Show, it marked the start of an Alpine adventure for the engine from the Renault 8. The car had been developed from the Alpine A108, but was more stylish and more dynamic, with an even lower engine cover, a larger glazed area and the rear lights from the Renault 8.
The new engine demanded changes to the air intakes: with the radiator mounted at the rear, cooling exits were opened in the resin bodywork behind the rear wheel arches, disguised with four chrome strips. The changes served only to heighten the elegance of the A110 Berlinette. The restrained, balanced silhouette maintained its extremely pure lines.
A car for the enthusiast
To drive a Berlinette is a life-changing experience. Above all, it was designed to win rallies, so it’s not surprising that it boasts a certain pedigree; not a tricky personality, but real character. You don’t climb aboard an Alpine, you slide into it.
But once you’re behind the wheel, the connection is immediate. Agility and traction are particular strong points thanks to the mid-rear position engine, which tends to produce oversteer that is easy to control using the steering and throttle. It’s sometimes a little trickier to keep going in a straight line, but life’s all about compromise…
This isn’t a car you simply take for a drive it demands to be properly driven. Its weaknesses are also its strengths.
The Berlinette in motorsports
The light weight and handling qualities of the Berlinette meant it was perfectly suited for motorsport. As well as being fun to drive, the cars were favourites with the fans, who often saw them cornering hard at lurid angles. It’s almost impossible to catalogue every motorsport triumph for the Berlinette, but these are the main stages of the adventure.
1961-1968: the early successes
José Rosinski took the first win for the A110 at the 1963 Rallye des Lions. The remainder of the season followed this trend, with exploits including a win for Jacques Cheinisse on the Rallye d’Automne.
In the years that followed, a number of ‘privateer’ drivers achieved success at national and international level ahead of much more powerful cars from well-established brands.
1967: assembling a great team:
Alpine became Alpine-Renault. New drivers joined the line-up: Gérard Larrousse, Jean-Claude Andruet and Jean-Pierre Nicolas in the works team, but also, among others, Bernard Darniche in the privateer ranks.
1968: the first French Rally Championship title
After victories on the Neige et Glace and Rallye de Lorraine for Gérard Larousse, Jean-Claude Andruet claimed the French title thanks to a total score of four wins during the season.
1969: Hitting its stride
Jean Vinatier and Jean-Claude Andruet were the stars of the season, with the former going on to become the French Rally Champion at the end of the year.
1970: European and French titles
The Berlinette 1600S was homologated for Group 4, which finally allowed the car to fight on almost equal terms with more powerful competitors. Jean-Claude Andruet, who had calmed his approach after several notable incidents, was crowned French and European Champion.
1971: The Berlinette dominates the Rallye Monte-Carlo
Another good year. Ove Andersson won the Rallye Monte-Carlo. Thérier finished second and Andruet third. Andersson also took the win in Italy against the flotilla of Fiats and Lancias dispatched to beat him. He subsequently triumphed on the Austrian Alpine Rally and on the Acropolis, securing the international title for Alpine. Jean-Pierre Nicolas won the French Championship.
1972: Heading for glory
The 1,600cc engine was replaced by a more powerful 1,800cc unit. Jean-Claude Andruet dominated the Tour de Corse. Numerous wins followed, shared between the team’s drivers. Darniche was crowned French Champion at the end of the year, while Jean-Luc Thérier claimed the Rallye des Cévennes driving a turbocharged 1,600cc version. This was the first stirrings of a technology destined for major success…
1973: The climax of an era
Just imagine the best French drivers of the era: Andruet, Darniche, Thérier, Nicolas and Piot ably supported by the experienced Andersson. What’s more, a team of mechanics giving their heart and soul, plus a car at the peak of its development.
The season began with victory for Andruet on the Rallye Monte-Carlo, followed home by four other Alpines. In Portugal, Thérier and Nicolas scored a one-two. On the Rallye du Maroc, Darniche was unbeatable. And the rest of the season followed the same trend. Alpine won the inaugural World Rally Championship title and Jean-Luc Thérier was crowned French Champion.
1974 1975: the end of the works era
Nicolas won the Rallye du Maroc and finished second on the Tour de Corse. This was the Berlinette’s swansong, and the year produced the last major win for the A110 on the Critérium des Cévennes, driven by Jacques Henry.