Renault Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn has apparently given his blessing to the Alpine brand to produce a new sports coupe inspired by the legendary Berlinette A110. Not only that, but the 200-250hp car will be introduced as a concept at the next Le Mans 24 Hours on June 13th and 14th.
Reports on a French website claim the Alpine will arrive in 2016, and will be followed by an SUV, with 600 million Euros already invested.
Alpine was founded in 1955 by Dieppe garage owner Jean Redele. Having raced and achieved class victories in events including the Mille Miglia in a Renault 4CV, Redeles developed a glass fibre body with the Cheppe brothers and styling by Italian Giovanni Michelotti, which produced the Alpine A106.
A 2+2 version was then produced as the Alpine A108 with the 845cc engine bored out to give 904cc or later 998cc.
But when Alpine worked closely with Renault to create the A110 Berlinette Tour de France, they created a rallying legend which ended up becoming a 1.8 litre, 180hp competition car weighing just 620kg, and winning the World Rally Championship.
The company was bought in 1973 by Renault and went on to develop open wheel racing cars including the entry into the Formula One world championship, and road models including the Alpine A310, and the 2.6 litre V6 Alpine GTA. The final car to be manufactured under the badge was the Alpine A610.
Since then, the Dieppe factory has been responsible for building sporty Renaults, including the Clio Williams and Renault Sport Spiders. The Alpine badge has reappeared on some mid-engined Clios, but otherwise has been limited to mentions and rumours regarding prototypes like the A710 Berlinette 2 which was being worked on between 1989 and 1995.
Ironically, one reason for dropping the Alpine name was that Sunbeam owned the trade mark in the UK, and it is now owned by Peugeot Citroen.
But as a precursor to Alpine returning, Renault partnered with Signatech to enter a Nissan-powered, Oreca-built prototype in the European Le Mans Series in 2013 and 2014 as Signatech-Alpine.