In the details // Alpine A110
Words and photos by Andrew Coles
This is going to read a little like a love letter to a fling, but quite frankly, we don’t care.
We’ve spent a little time with this 1973 Alpine A110, and we’ve fallen for it head-over-heels. It’s a mere 1300cc base model V85, not a twin cam Gordini. And while we love the factory shade of yellow, it doesn’t wear the famous French blue of the rally machines that put the Deippe manufacturer on the map. But love is blind, and we don’t care.
It’s just the prettiest car that ever did exist. Small, looking as lightweight on its skinny rally three-bolt wheels as it really is, those lines and details that could only be Gallic.
If there ever was a car that embodied the concept of being more than the sum of its parts, this is it. It has a fibreglass body, a relatively simple steel tube chassis and a driveline from a Renault economy car. But this thing gets down the road like nothing else. It feels light on its feet, eager to please and perform. It wants to be sideways in the snow, those yellow driving lights dancing this way and that in the snowbanks, making you laugh.
In this case, beauty is more than skin deep. It looks so pretty because it’s small and lightweight. It drives so well because it’s small and light weight. It crackles and pops, the tall gearshift slots around the gate with great accuracy, it feels like it has competition at the soul of its very being. And as it should – it was built in 1973, in the same factory at the same time as Alpine became the first manufacturer to win the World Rally Championship.
But like all great love stories, this one too ends in tragedy. We’d pictured the adventures we could have together. A January drive to Monaco, tracing the snow-covered roads of the Monte Carlo Rally, arriving in Casino Square covered in grime and mud but smiling profusely. An entry in the Tour Auto rally, and the joy of competing on French soil in such an iconic car. Even just buzzing around London, driving like lunatics but making children and clued-in enthusiasts alike grin with glee.
But it’s not to be. We’ve had our limited fun and perhaps those memories are best to stay as they are. The Alpine is currently for sale with our friends at Quest Brothers Classic Cars in Cambridgeshire for £69,950 – find it here on Car and Classic.