1968 Alpine A110 Pilots: J. Bourdon, M. Nussbaumer, M. Pouteaux Team: Ecurie Léopard Race: DNC (GT 1.3) at Le Mans in 1968 Troféu - 806 (diecast)
In the early 1950s Jeane Rédéle modified Renault’s 4CV for competitions in his garage in Dieppe, France. At first he only worked on the engines, but soon he began to make lightweight aluminum bodies for his cars. He even scored class wins at prestigious events like the Mille Miglia and Coupe de Alpes. With the good results and customer demand, he founded the Société des Automobiles Alpine SAS in 1955. His first model was the A106, with the chassis from the 4CV. To keep the car light, the body was made of fiberglass. In fact, Alpine was one of the first manufacturers to extensively use fiberglass. From the beginning Alpine had very straight relations with Renault, and all their models used Renault engines. Shortly after the A106, Alpine released the A108 in 1957, powered by a Renault Dauphine 845 cm³ inline-4.
However, in 1961 Alpine introduced probably its most famous model, the A110. Designed by Giovanni Michelotti, it was a berlinette (coupe) with a larger engine than the previous A108. The chassis consisted of a steel backbone and the engine came from the Renault R8. And like the A108, the engine was in the rear. Initially the engine was a 956 cm³ inline-4, but subsequently Alpine used bigger power plants. The first engines produced around 55 hp, but with the use of a 1296 cm³ unit tuned by Gordini, the A110 delivered 120 hp. With the car weighing only 544 kg, that was good enough for 219 km/h top speed. Being fast and nimble, the A110 became popular as a rally car, but not so much in endurance racing. Even Alpine didn’t use it for endurance events, preferring instead the M63 and M64 and later on the A210.
In spite of that, a few privateers tried the A110 at La Sarthe, betting on the car’s reliability. One of these teams was Ecurie Léopard, a French team that debuted at Le Mans in 1968. Their blue #61 A110 did a consistent race, yet it was just not fast enough. That being so, they finished 116 laps behind the winning Ford GT40, and DNC. That year there was also a second A110 (#51) in the race, but it also DNC.
The A110 is arguably one of the most gracious French cars ever. Add to that a very prolific racing career and you have a highly revered model. In fact, in my opinion it’s THE most beautiful car ever to come from the land of Asterix. I was delighted to find out that Troféu offers a Le Mans version of the car, and it’s a very nice model. An old mold (on the base it’s printed 1997!) and not very easy to come by, but a very decent model nonetheless.