Tag Archives: resurrection

A450 Le Mans test day.

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I eagerly await this year’s Le Mans (June 22-23)—-and while I will be, as usual, pulling for the stunning Audi R18s to win (as expected they will), my eyes will actually be peeled out for the Alpine A450 which heralds the return of one of the greatest marques in racing back to Le Mans!  Sure this is a car that was developed primarily by Nissan originally, however its tuning and program is now joined to the hip with Dieppe and the Renaultsport/Alpine tuners.  It is such a great feeling to see the Alpine marque on the track again, and with reasonable success I am sure that in the near future we will start to see a non-Nissan Alpine race car being developed and run in future endurance events!  

Here are some photos shown by Team Signature about the current A450 race car doing Le Mans testing this weekend in France.

As usual, IEDEI will be setting up live feeds of Le Mans on this site as we do every year to help everyone to watch it!

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ALPINE returning to Le Mans!

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An announcement is expected Friday to hear Renault introducing the plans for their return to endurance racing!  LMP2 is surely expected by the 2014 racing season with possible LMP1 ambitions as well, and the engines are expected to carry the ALPINE badge!  Renaultsport (which evolved out of the original Alpine after it stopped making cars 20+ years ago) will be tuning them and involved with the engine construction.  All of this seems consistent with the Renault plan to resurrect one of the finest racing and rallying marques ever!  I wonder if the cars themselves will be badged “Alpine-Renault” like the old days.

IEDEI is, of course, devoted to Alpine news and will offer updates as they come in.  My biggest issue is going to be whether I root for Audi or Alpine?  I have stayed up to watch almost all Le Mans races for the past several years….and am a die hard Audi fanboy.   If Alpine makes it to LMP1 against Audi…..it will be very very tough for me to root against the boys in blue.

Exciting news.

BTW, to fuel the imagination, here is an interesting ‘re-interpretation’ (rendering) of the glorious Alpine A220 by Racing Emotion found at le Blog Auto. Obviously this is not a realistic vision, but still entertaining to look at!

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src:  racecarEngineering

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Progress of the Alpine resurrection.

Carlos Tavares (Renault CEO) has been talking some details about the resurrection of Alpine!  It seems it will be a completely new car, and NOT the A110-50 that was shown several months ago.  Should be very, very interesting.

My bet is that Lotus is going to be involved in this….as Lotus and Alpine have a history of collaboration.

from Autocar:

Carlos Tavares:

“We could have given our engineers €50 million and told them to make the best of it. But that would probably have produced a mediocre car because it’s not much money to play with. Alpine has a great history, and we want to make emotional cars that will be true to that.”

“He won’t yet reveal the mechanical layout but admits it is unlikely to be rear-engined, as the A110 was.”

“Convenience is an important part of modern packaging,” Tavares says, “but we are not inclined to compromise too much. This is a car that must appeal to the emotions. If you refine such a car too much, it loses its special character.”

The production Alpine will bear little relation to the Alpine concept from earlier this year that incorporated the styling of the DeZir concept on to a Mégane Trophy racer.

 

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World Exclusive: The lost Alpine W71 (A710/A410) prototype

The final Alpine which came out under the Alpine badge was the A610/GTA which was introduced in 1986 and eventually warped in the final reiteration which came out in 1991.  This GTA was supposed to make it to the US with a Renault “Alpine GTA” badge and even had cars sent for reviews to auto car magazines; only to have it pulled in the end due to Renault’s bad state of affairs in the US market.

As it turns out, Renault was also working on another car between 1989 to 1993 known as the “W71”.  This car was a small, lightweight, 2-seater which was meant to be a modern interpretation of the original A110.  The people developing this car in Berex (the original Renault Sport factory; the site where the A442 was developed) were indeed personnel leftover from the original Alpine factory.  Their goal was to save the badge and indeed produce a car which would hark back to the glory days of Alpine; functional, lightweight, driver’s cars.   Not to say that A610 wasn’t a driver’s car—-it was.  That being said, the A610 had grown in size significantly from even the small A310 and it was full of luxury amenities and had become a hybrid of a GT car and a sports car to rival the 911 of the time.

Renault’s Berex, where a lot of the former Alpine employees still worked:

In the past few weeks, there have been numerous articles popping up online about Renault building a 50th anniversary tribute to the original A110 Berlinette (which I can confirm to you IS true….they are working on an Alpine), and a story about the people behind the ‘new’ Lancia Stratos trying to get permission to make a ‘new’ Alpine A110

In the past, there have been some grainy, incomplete photos of the W71/A710/A410 published online; but these have been suboptimal to get an insight into the car’s designs.  I was graciously provided these exclusive photos of the ‘lost’ prototype from the time of development.  If you use these photos anywhere else on the web, please credit this blog.

I was told that the hopes of all the remaining Alpine staff rested on this car ‘making it to production’……when it was killed off by Renault, it was the final stab to a great marque.

Some information about the long lost prototype that sits hidden away somewhere in France!

Yes, the prototype was totally functional. It’s handling was tested and fine tuned on Renault ‘s Aubevoye test center tracks. It’s lap time was better than A610’s lap time, despite inferior engine.  If I remember correctly, prototype was fitted with J7R, 2L NA engine 140 HP versus Z7X 2.5L turbo 250 HP for the A610. The first prototype and concept was very light (no AD, no air cond, no ABS…) but later in the project, the marketing asked for a lot of these useless things in this kind of car. Theorical weight and price increased, performance decreased. And the project was finally axed in 1992 or 1993″

As you can see, it has a completely finished interior with badges on the steering wheel and door sills.  Nice sport bucket seats as well!  Functionality of the original Alpine spirit looks preserved in this limited view.

The first Porsche Boxster concept was shown to the world in 1993, right after this A710/A410 project was killed off.  The 3rd generation MR2, which also carries some features of this car in design was introduced in 1999.  As someone who is fascinated, intrigued, and interested in Alpine cars and company history; it saddens me that Renault killed off this car.  It seems like the W71/A710/A410 would have taken the company back to the days of producing a pure sports car; in the spirit of the original brand.

I often hear people saying that the A110 was the “Porsche 911 of France”….which I don’t agree with.  I actually think of Alpine as more akin to Lotus than Porsche; a focused racing company with an intriguing history and a different way of doing things.  Whereas Lotus and Alpine both lost their way a bit in the 80s; Lotus came back strong with the Elise in the 90s…….according to the pics and information about this lost Alpine; Alpine could have come back strong with their own rear-engined ‘pure’ sports car—-unfortunately for Alpine, Renault controlled the company.  It is tragic this car was never even shown at an auto show or to the world—even though they spent almost $10 million (1989 money) developing it.  What could have been…..

The styling of the W71 was, however, influenced by the 1990 Renault Laguna Concept (photo via netcarshow)

A couple of years later, the Renault Sport Spider was introduced with obviously devoted “A210/A220” race car headlights…..but when i asked about the origins of this car and whether this Spider was actually the A710/A410 in hiding, i was told that the Spider was NOT the same as the A710/A410 in any way; however some of the same people responsible for the A710/A410 project were involved in the Spider project.  The Spider was code named “W94” and was produced between 1995 and 1997 at the Dieppe factory (now a Renault Sport factory).  It obviously carried the spirit of the A710/A410 prototype; but in a different form.

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