5 May 2016

On Cinco de Mayo, we salute the underappreciated Dinalpin A110

Considering that Mexico’s annual Cinco de Mayo celebration commemorates its victory over France in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 (not its independence, as is commonly assumed), it certainly seems ironic – or appropriate, if you’re French – that one of the best-known Mexican automobiles is essentially a rebadged French Alpine.

Regardless, on Cinco de Mayo, we toast the collaborative effort that resulted in the Dinalpin A110 sports car.

It all began with Jean Rédélé, a post-war Renault tuner based in Dieppe, France, who drove modified 4CVs to class victories in the Mille Miglia and Coupe des Alps. With encouragement from fans, Rédélé created Alpine (pronounced Al-PEEN) in 1954. As the company grew in the mid-1960s, Alpine began contracting with automakers in Brazil, Bulgaria, Spain and Mexico to build its A110 and avoid import tariffs in those countries. Mexico’s Diesel Nacional (DINA), which already produced Renault vehicles, built the A110 from 1965-74 under the name Dinalpin.

A small factory was set up in the industrial area of Colonia Vallejo (Mexico City) and produced three versions: the Berlinetta-styled Berlinette, the Cabriolet and the longer GT4 2+2. The first A110s were powered by a Renault 1100cc 4-cylinder engine; later models went with a more powerful 1300cc version.

Fewer than 1,000 Dinalpin A110s were produced during its 10 model years, with some estimates putting the number closer to 700. Of those, the Berlinette is the most common, estimated at around 500. Among the reasons for the A110’s low production numbers was its high cost; a new 1970 Dinalpin was more expensive than a contemporary Ford Mustang.

And while the French-built Alpine A110’s reputation received a boost by finding success on the world rally stage – posting wins in the International Championship for Manufacturers from 1970-72 and the inaugural World Rally Championship in 1973 – Mexican-built Dinalpins aren’t as prized. In fact, despite their low numbers, Dinalpins actually command less than their French-built siblings.

Late 1960s Dinalpin A110 models pop up occasionally in auctions, on eBay and BringATrailer.com. A 1969 Dinalpin A110 (VIN 00000000269) was recently offered for $57,500 by Fantasy Junction in Emeryville, Calif. (www.fantasyjunction.com.), and at last check, a sale was pending. According to the Hagerty Price Guide, a 1969 Alpine A110 in similar condition is worth more than $100,000.

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