In 1955, a small company named Alpine started to produce cars based on the Renault 4 in a garage in Dieppe – France. Three years later, it improved its product and introduced the A108.
While other carmakers started to increase the engines' displacements to offer more power and performance, Alpine took a different road: they lightened the cars. The A108 was built on a hybrid platform, based on the Renault 4 with the engine from a Renault Dauphine – Gordini. It's under 1-liter displacement, and just a few ticks over the half-tone weight provided a great power to weight ratio and resulted in a very nimble car, excellent for winding roads.
Giovanni Michelotti designed the car to be short, aerodynamic, and balanced. He insisted that the engine should be in the back to put some weight on the car's drive wheels. At the front, he installed round headlights carried over from the Renault Dauphine and covered them with clear glass to follow the front end design. The car's greenhouse was small, big enough only for two passengers. A sloped, big rear window helped the air to flow seamlessly to the rear. A pair of slim air-intakes installed on the rear quarter panels helped to cool the engine.
Inside, Alpine installed two bucket seats mounted in a very low position on the floor and a dash panel that featured a tachometer, a speedometer, a fuel, and a coolant temperature gauge. There was no air conditioning or fancy stereo inside. It was a car built to be raced in a mono-brand competition.
The engine was just 0.8-liters and provided 40 hp. It was paired to a 4-speed manual gearbox, unlike its predecessor that featured 3. To stop the car, Alpine installed disc-brakes in all corners.