Alpine is a legendary name in motorsport, having won numerous titles and trophies in various disciplines, such as rallying, endurance racing, and Formula One. Alpine is also a proud French brand with a history that dates back to 1955, when Jean Rédélé founded the company in Dieppe, Normandy.
But Alpine is not just a nostalgic relic of the past. It is also a modern brand that embraces innovation, performance, and passion. Alpine has been at the forefront of the electric vehicle (EV) revolution, offering models that combine its signature style and agility with zero-emission technology.
In this article, we will explore how Alpine has evolved from a classic carmaker to a contemporary EV manufacturer and how it continues to challenge the motorsport giants at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the most prestigious and demanding endurance race in the world.
The Birth of a Dream
Alpine was born from the dream of Jean Rédélé, a young French engineer and racing driver who wanted to create his own sports car that could compete with the best. He was inspired by the Renault 4CV, a small, affordable, and reliable car that he used to win several rallies in the early 1950s.
Rédélé decided to modify the 4CV by making it lighter, lower, and more aerodynamic. He also gave it a distinctive name: Alpine, after his favorite rally terrain in the Alps. He founded his own company, Société des Automobiles Alpine, in 1955 and began producing his first model: the Alpine A106.
The Alpine A106 was an instant success on both the road and the track. It was followed by other models, such as the A108 and the A110, which became Alpine’s most iconic car. The Alpine A110 was a sleek and agile coupé that dominated the rally scene in the late 1960s and early 1970s, winning several championships and events, such as the Monte Carlo Rally and the Rallye du Maroc.
Alpine also ventured into other forms of motorsport, such as endurance racing and Formula One. In 1978, Alpine achieved its greatest feat by winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the ultimate test of speed, reliability, and endurance. Alpine’s A442B prototype, driven by Didier Pironi and Jean-Pierre Jaussaud, beat the mighty Porsche 936 and Renault Alpine A443 to claim victory for France.
The Rise of a Legend
Alpine’s fame reached new heights after its triumph at Le Mans, but it also faced some challenges along the way, such as financial difficulties, market changes, and environmental regulations. In 1973, Renault, its longtime partner and supplier, acquired Alpine. Renault helped Alpine to continue its production and development but also imposed some restrictions and changes.
In 1985, Alpine launched its most successful road car: the Alpine A610. The car was a powerful and luxurious grand tourer that could reach a top speed of 265 km/h and accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.7 seconds. It was also praised for its comfort, handling, and design. The A610 was sold until 1995 when Alpine ceased its production due to low demand and high costs.
Alpine’s motorsport activities also continued under Renault’s umbrella but with less prominence and success. Alpine participated in various championships and races, such as the World Sportscar Championship, the World Rally Championship, and the Dakar Rally. It also collaborated with Renault Sport to develop and supply engines for Formula One teams.
Alpine’s last appearance at Le Mans was in 1994 when it entered two Alpine A610 GT prototypes that failed to finish the race due to technical problems. Alpine then faded from the motorsport scene for several years until it made a comeback in 2013.