Alpine A110

Concept draft : A110 car body design in the spirit of slenderness

Because . . .
it should not be a getaway car for small-time hoods.
And not a warrior's vehicle for the Peshmerga
but a manifesto of slenderness and
driving enjoyment for everyone.

alpine a110 3d model

When a new sports car is released that is remarkable in technical or body design I usually make a list (in the mind) of details I would design differently. I don't write it down – except the carmaker really causes to give offence. [1]
Three years ago I criticised the body design of the Porsche 911 and now I need to write about the Alpine A110.
I think the A110 is one of the most interesting (combustion engine) cars since the Lamborghini Miura in 1966 and the Bugatti Veyron in 2005. [2] – This time not because of the shape but because of its maxim and parameters:

In my renderings (of a 3D model I purchased and tweaked) I changed some design attributes according to my own lines. (Maybe it generates the reproval of having no respect and no understanding for the great legacy of the A110. – I have to admit, I do not have that respect.)
Overall I turned the look of the new car from wiry to smooth and slender.

In detail this are the changes I made:

  1. Wheelbase
    My main and only substantial change of the original car is the enlargement of the wheelbase (just as I did three years before with the Porsche).
    I moved the rear axle 52 mm backwards and the front axle 20 mm frontwards. All other points are cosmetic modifications.
  2. Wheels
    Using larger than the A110 standard wheels (and I prefer a larger chassis clearance).
  3. Tail lights
    Making the tail lights 35 mm less wide (each) so the rear segment has no 'tail fins' anymore (that standed out from some view angles). This boosts a more streamlined torpedo look.  ( 'Torpedo look' means the car adheres to its slenderness, not pretending it is extra big.)
  4. Diffusor
    Moving the diffusor and the exhaust 32 mm frontwards so the rear segment looks lighter, smoother and more elegant instead of "beefy" (see side view below).
  5. Door profile
    Thickening the doors outwards at the sholder line and moving the profile inwards at the bottom so the doors appear not as 'plane boards' anymore.
    Between the axes the body gets an organic swing. [4]
  6. Door indentation
    Giving the indentation of the door segment more depth and a sculptural intention instead of a 'graphical' one.
    It doesn't go without notice that the original indentation was just strong enough to give a visual effect (under the right angle of incidence of light). It is perceptible there was no will to really sculpt the car body. [5] The 1960's model is no excuse.
  7. C-pillar
    The C-pillar covers the air intake for the combustion engine and it is the base for the interesting rear window of the car (window concept: Arseny Kostromin, inspired by the 1963 Iso Grifo). The rear window passes over with a rounding as a side window at the same time.
    In Kostromin's draft the window shape is perfect. But sadly in Dieppe they implemented this concept only lukewarm. I turned the timid shape of the rear window and the boring work angle of the C-pillar into a resolute, steep, masculine statement.
  8. 'Vacuum pack'
    Removing the style of 'vacuum pack' from some parts (the lower rear piece and the lower door segment).

    The excessive use of altering from convex to concave (especially at the wheel cases) was an annoying custom in design 20 years ago (BMW). But it is simply unnecessary and looks tangled.
    (And in combination with the terrible Alpine-panzer-grey paint it tells what the body designers bear in mind – to compensate the lack of sex appeal with the ugly look of a warrior's vehicle.)
  9. Wheels standing out
    Making the (insinuated) 'fender flares' of the A110 disappear. Fender flares (wheels standing out) are simply nonsense. When you have a wider wheels track you should use it for the whole car, the driver's cabin etc. (as Lamborghini does, and the Lamborghinis are really wide).
  10. Front bonnet
    Making the front bonnet more slant and race-car-like (see side view below). The designer team have had the chance to create a real classic. But they denied it oneself just to preserve 10 more litres of boot space for luggage. (They discarded the racing look though the A110 is in France indeed mainly a racing car.)
  11. Foglight
    Removing the original foglights from the bonnet. To flaunt extra foglights was the fun part of the orignal A110 of the 1960s. I like this kind of funny exaggerations [6]. But you can't preserve it from a bygone era. It doesn't work in the the 21st century (with LED and laser light for headlights).
  12. Headlight
    Shrinking the oversized headlights and placing it 26 mm lower. (It was a terrible idea of the designer team to relinquish the iconic front-lowered silhouette [6] of the 1960's A110.)
  13. Front grille
    Complete revision of the overly wide and convoluted original front design. The new design turns a 'widemouth frog' into a young 'tiger shark'.
  14. Branding
    It is obvious they tried with the 2017 version to maintain the brand identity of the orignal A110 from the 1960s. But by doing this they payed a price for something that actually doesn't exist (anymore). I think, to keep the legacy forms of the bonnet and of the front part does not do any good (even if the French market would be the only one to go for).
    The biggest problem of the overall look of the A110 is the rounded front end of the bonnet. In itself the rounding is ok and distinctive. But it changes without border into the open big air intake and together with that the rounding looks like an overhang rather, a front with projecting alcoves, a Gonzo beak (sorry for drastic wording).
  15. Company logo
    Having the Alpine lettering on the front indicates clearly the absence of a real company logo. The 'A' for Alpine shouldn't be slanted. The logo of an axisymmetric object like a car should be basically symmetric. [7]

The face of the car. I think this face could provide a quite high rate of brand recognition – a brand different from the 60's Alpine.
The look of the combination 'foglight and air intake' is a funny homage to UI design of modern software, to the 'on-off-slider' (...and the blades add a little bit of charming retro).

alpine a110 car body design concept

[1]  In January 2020 Alpine released the version A110 Sports X – at almost all changes its design went in the exact opposite direction of my points. So I found myself compelled to write down my points. (Actually for me it's the same trigger as with Porsche.)

Addition 2020-03: Creating a whole family of different Alpines (as it Uwe Hochgeschurtz suggested) sounds enterprising and the Sports X fulfills the SUV dreams of its customers quite perfectly. But I would wish the little sister car would gain a bit more of friendly noblesse.
Yes, the Alpine got the genes of a racing car, but to cultivate the image of a lout is a bad idea. It's the general concept (lightness) rather and the overall shape that makes the A110 so adorable.

alpine a110 car body design concept, side view

Compared to the (overloaded) Rimac C_Two the Alpine++ car body design is rational and clear, it cultivates slenderness (as one of the last of this kind in a new world of bulky, tall cars).
Upper image: ri mac-automobi

Addition 2021-01: The Te sla Roadster is a bigger car (prize tag $200,000).
image: www.te

[2]  Competitors in the A110's range of small nimble sports cars:

[3]  The combustion engine has a future. The A110's engine is great but perhaps Koenigsegg’s 2.0-liter no-camshaft engine will be a game-changer.

Image: www.roada ndtr

[4]  Getting rid of the undue flatness of the door segment the wheels segments do not stand out anymore. That is not a sacrifice.
In fact the Alpine team made the opposite (bad) decision. They made the doors flat in order to make the wheels segment more standing out. A pity.

[5]  Creating the shape of a car is not about visual effects, it is about sculptural thinking.
In case of the A110 Sports X the designer team printed some graphical frills onto the car body. – Do they know this is for veneering questionable sculptural quality?


Iconic cars only. Image: The o Hart man

The 'flippant lout' of the 1960s . Image: Wikimedia Commons

[7]  Alpine logo, a draft: