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A110 1600S "Swissair 1971"

THE ALPINE REFERENCE


HISTORY

 

TIME CAPSULE


A former SWISSAIR engineer living near Geneva, ordered this A110 1600S in 1971 and had been guarding and caring for her like the apple of his eye ever since. This is probably the only way to explain the sensationally original state of preservation of this 1600S. One could almost think, that it had sprung from a time capsule, in which it survived the many years untouched.


Very little could be found out about the history of this Berlinette, nor about its former first owner. I couldn't even find out his name or address. It was only known, he was admitted to a nursing home due to his age and to dementia.

The conservatorship was taken over by the Swiss authority KESCHA. An umbrella as well as a key ring, both relics of SWISSAIR origin, testify to the time when their Swiss first owner took a seat behind the wheel.

His estate, including an Alpine A310, was released for sale by KESCHA. So, both Alpines appeared on the website of a classic car dealer in the canton of Bern, where I discovered this particular A110 1600S and was able to purchase her.


 

BACK ON TRACK

 

PLUG & PLAY


The sections SEARCH AND RESCUE and BLOOD SWEAT AND TEARS must be omitted for this vehicle, due to lack of necessity. Almost no restoration work was necessary. Only the usual maintenance work, which is required for vehicles with long downtimes, had to be done.

On closer inspection, it became apparent that no inexperienced hand had touched this vehicle and that it had never been dismantled or restored. It is, so to speak, still in its original condition as assembled by the former factory mechanics and preserved down to the very last detail. Only two rubber bands on the rear hood as additional locking devices, were added by the first owner. Otherwise, she shines almost virginally in her first paint and all attachments are still where they belong. One or the other small scratch, fine cracks or blisters give it a charming patina, that no master painter in the world could have ever be able to produce. Magnificent!


 

GET OUT AND DRIVE

 

ONE CAR TO DO IT ALL


Virtually a novelty in my Alpine history was the fact, that I was able to bring a Berlinette back on the road ready to drive, within just a few weeks. A completely new driving experience revealed itself to me, during the first test drive. The smaller MOMO Prototipo steering wheel with a diameter of 330mm only, took some moment getting used to it. The steering force was slightly higher and the thought arose that maybe the agility could suffer. However, this was not the case, the standard ratio of the steering, as well as the narrow tires resulted in the same driving experience, appearing to be as usual.

Even the still mounted original shock absorbers from 1971, resulted in a surprisingly soft, but by no means spongy setup of the vehicle.


No, she didn't scream for full throttle and bend chasing, but rather wanted to be circled gently and carefully with sensitivity, through the bends. The new Michelin XAS FF tyres look good on her and provide safety and stability, despite the narrower contact surface on the asphalt. The soft rubber compound "FF" leaves enough reserve to not lose grip, even in swiftly driven bends. The standard seats surprisingly provide sufficient lateral support, although the seating position is significantly higher, compared to the bucket seat.

My conclusion: A Berlinette that can do everything, as if made for comfortable cruising, as well as for ambitious and sporty driving, preferably on winding mountain routes. Bonne Route!




 

CAR IN DETAIL

 

ONLY THE ORIGINAL COUNTS


Customizing, tuning and changes of any kind are common practice, especially in the extensive Alpine scene.

Hardly anyone adheres to the specifications, which Jean Rédélé gave his vehicles in terms of design, equipment or series. Purists, who appreciate the original condition are by far outnumbered, the group of those who restore at will, predominates. Although, the vast majority of Berlinettes have now been restored, but most of them have little in common with the original condition, in which they once left the factory.


In my more than 35 years as a lover and collector of the Alpine A110, quite a few, in most cases modified vehicles of all types, have crossed my path. However, I can't recall any that ever had the charm, attraction or beauty of an original example. According to tradition, Jean Rédélé was no friend of tuning and customizing his vehicles.

It is even more astonishing to find exampless like this, which has survived the long period of more than 50 years, both unchanged and untouched. She must continue to be preserved in their present original condition, as they certainly represent the small minority of their kind and will be the reference in the future, how an Alpine A110 should look like in its original condition.


Almost all changes and modifications that deviate from the original, therefore represent not only a break in style to the negative, but also a piecemeal destruction and disregard for the legacy of Jean Rédélé .

Personalization of historic vehicles is of course not punishable and remains the responsibility of every owner of a classic vehicle. In my humble opinion, tuning or customizing automotive cultural assets like the A110, is simply tantamount to painting over the Mona Lisa. A radical view, indeed.

But has anyone ever approached the Mona Lisa with a brush, to recreate her beguiling smile?




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