“Our French friends had the idea to wrap two lying men with fiberglass and put them on wheels. The skin consisted solely of blue paint, and they were so light, the wind had already dented them.” So starts the Petrolicious video on the Alpine Renault A110 ‘Berlinette’, the very first car to win the World Rally Championship for manufacturers.
Alpine began as a standalone manufacturer and tuner of Renaults, with company founder Jean Rédélé successfully campaigning his Renault-based creations in races around Europe. As with AMG and Mercedes, the larger company took interest in Alpine’s success and bought the smaller out to provide Jean with more money to do his thing. The A110 was produced and updated between 1961 and 1976, and its rear-mounted engine never exceeded 1.8 l. It featured a steel chassis with a fiberglass body on top and was licensed for production around the world. In Brazil it was sold by Willys (yes that Willys) as the Interlagos, and was built in Bulgaria under the very sexy name ‘Bulgaralpine’.
Through the early 1970’s the Berlinette was an extremely successful rally car, but by 1974 the purpose-built Lancia Stratos had joined the fray and the Berlinette, along with many of its pre-Stratos peers, was in decline. Engine and suspension updates failed to produce any meaningful results and the A110 was retired from racing duty. The A110's rally success and charming French styling have kept it a crowd favourite at historic rallies since the day it retired from active competition.