Page 1 of 2 Next >> From his Renault dealership in Dieppe, France, Jean Rédélé campaigned Renaults and later his own Renault-engined Alpines since the early 1950s, so he was understandably upset when Renault entrusted the latest Gordini engines to René Bonnet for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1962. Bonnet's cars failed against the CD Panhards, which prompted Rédélé to once again state his case at Renault. This time he found a willing ear, and for 1963, he would also have access to the Gordini-tweaked engines.
The engine deal was not struck until November of 1962, leaving Rédélé precious few months to design and construct Alpine's first purpose-built racing car. Being primarily a car salesman, he needed help with both. Following a suggestion from a journalist friend, he asked Lotus designer Len Terry to create a set of drawings for the new Alpine Le Mans car. Terry had not been informed of some significant rule changes, so his original design had to be extensively modified. This work was entrusted to Bernard Boyer and Richard Bouleau, who added a much wanted French touch to the car.
Terry had specified a multi-tubular spaceframe chassis but this could not be used as the new-for-1963 regulations specified a very low door sill. Instead Boyer and Bouleau laid down a central box member frame, which widened at the front and rear to house the suspension and drivetrain components. In its design, this was actually closely related to the Alpine A110 production car. What was carried over from Terry's plans were the overall dimensions and the suspension design, which consisted of double wishbones at the front and lower wishbones with top links and twin trailing arms at the rear.
Mounted amidships was the latest Gordini four cylinder engine. This was based on the block of the straight 4 that powered the recently introduced Renault 8. Amédée Gordini equipped this with 'his' alloy cylinder head, which featured twin overhead camshafts. This was available in a variety of displacements, and Alpine eventually settled on the 997 cc version for the Le Mans effort. Breathing through a pair of Weber carburettors, it produced around 93 bhp. Following the example set by the Lotus 23, the Gordini T55 engine was mated to a Hewland gearbox in a Volkswagen case. Page 1 of 2 Next >>