Spark’s latest Le Mans racer a long-tailed French blend …
Separating Alpine from Renault is difficult as their histories are so entwined, as is that of Gordini, although fewer may recognize that name.
But in the 1960s all three came together as Gordini-tuned Renault engines powered Alpine racers designed for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with Renault’s racing arm footing the bill.
The result, several years in, was the dramatic and swoopy looking Alpine A210 racer that Spark Models beautifully recreates now in 1:43 scale.
Alpine was formed in 1955 by Jean Rédélé to make sports cars and racers and did well enough that Shell Oil came to the firm in 1962 wanting 1.0-liter Gordini-tuned engines for a Le Mans effort. By 1963 the M63 racer had won its class at the Nurburgring 1000km race, although none of its three cars finished the 1963 Le Mans marathon.
However, by the 1966 Le Mans, which was won for the first time by Ford’s GT40, Alpine had the A210 with a stout 1.3-liter Gordini-tuned Renault and took first through third place in the energy-efficiency index while clocking speeds of nearly 170 mph.
The next year Alpine was back with a multi-car team and its No. 46 car driven by French racers Henri Grandsire and Jose Rosinski finished ninth overall and first in class for 1.3-liter cars. The duo completed 321 laps compared with the winning Ford GT40 driven by Americans Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt’s 388 laps. Since the team was aiming for an overall win there was no winning the efficiency index.
Grandsire and Rosinski were gentleman racers, but successful. Grandsire, who later became an actor, had won the same Le Mans class the previous year, while Rosinski, later to become a journalist and race team manager, also had previously won his class at Le Mans in 1962.
By 1973 Renault would buy Alpine and Gordini soon after, although the Alpine name disappeared into the Renault lineup by 1995. Yet it was re-introduced in 2017 with the Alpine A110 model. Meanwhile the Renault Formula 1 racing team was also rebranded in 2021 as Alpine, which it remains today.
First, there’s the cool aero body with its long and finned tail, plus that stellar medium bright metallic blue paint scheme that quickly delivers the notion this is a French racer. The No. 46 car also features an orange stripe across the roof’s leading edge to help identify the car at speed from its sister cars.
Racers were so much simpler in the mid-1960s and this streamlined beauty reflects that with just a small black oval grille up front framed between two round running lights to help with night vision during the 24-hour race. Regular headlights are under clear lenses and the hood is one that was hinged in front, so there are two silver hinges that appear both functional and decorative. A small brown leather-look strap is at the passenger’s side of the hood’s rear to no doubt further secure the racer’s hood when the car was speeding about.
On the nose is the Alpine name in silver lettering.
There also are small air scoops on the front fenders just before the doors and then rear fender bulges that appear to be bolted on over the wheel well tops, giving the racer muscular hips. Outside door hinges are molded into the front quarter panel and doors too.
Both the windshield and rear window are huge, the back one blending smoothly into that sassy tail. The Alpine’s windshield is trimmed in silver and a delicate silver photo-etched metal twin-armed wiper that’s true to the original sweeps the window. Side windows represent the sliding glass that the real racer featured, an aid to cooling the cockpit. The driver’s side window is posed slightly opened, while the far side’s windows are closed.
In back are amber taillights and a large single tailpipe exiting just to the right of center.
Tires are treaded and the front wheel cover is a smooth silver disk while the larger rears are gold featuring an 8-pointed star pattern with visible lug nuts in the center ring.
Markings are minimal beyond the large numbers, all black atop white circles, one on the hood, tail, and both doors. There is a red dot on each door in front of the number, and Alpine Renault is spelled out on the rear quarter panel, just aft of the door with “1300” printed just below, signifying the racer’s 1300cc engine.
Three other logo decals are spread along the top of each front fender, a cat head with checkered flag, a Shell logo, and a black and white one I simply can’t make out, even with a magnifier.
The black interior is difficult to make out, but close study reveals a three-spoke race steering wheel, the spokes in silver, a shift lever on the floor, and a silver shoulder harness on the race seat. Looks like a red fire extinguisher above and behind a passenger’s seat too. Funny that Alpine included the second seat in a racer, but maybe there was a rule requiring it in 1967. Whatever!
Most Spark 1:43 die-cast models run in the $80 range, but often you can find them on sale online at sites such as Replicarz.com, one of the most reliable online retailers. I’ve used them for years to bolster my collection. Spark also makes several other versions of the Alpine A210, so look around and find which one most pleases your eye.
Plus, let me say that I love 1:43 scale models as they are such a great size for detail while remaining small enough to easily stack their cases. Spark and most other brands, come in stackable acrylic cases that are perfect for viewing, so no further display case is required. Save that cash to spend on more models!
This Alpine is a sexy addition to any Le Mans collection, even if it wasn’t an overall winner!
Vital Stats: 1967 Alpine A210 Le Mans #46
Stock No.: S5687