Category Archives: French Cars

Alpine

Alpine is the sporting offshoot of Renault.

Alpine x 8 2

I have eight, a mix of A310s and A110s, made by Solido, Bburago, Majorette, Hot Wheels and Deagostini in France, Portugal, Italy, Malaysia, Thailand and China.The Bburago model of the Berlinetta is 1:24 scale, the Bburago model of the Alpine 110-50 is 1:64, the two A310 a red Solido and a blue “Gendarmerie” DeAgostini models are 1:43 scale. The Majorette A110 model in the front is a 1:53 scale model with opening doors, the other Majorette model is a red A110-50 next to a light blue A110 Cup by Hot Wheels

Monthly acquisitions March 2020 3
Alpine A110 (Majorette) and Volvo 850 Estate (Hot Wheels)

The original A110 was launched in 1963. Alpine was founded by a garage proprietor from Dieppe called Jean Rédélé, who started out racing and tuning rear-engined Renaults before starting to use the same mechanical components in his own lightweight sports cars. Competition versions of the first A110 stayed competitive throughout the car’s long life, dominating many of the mountainous rally races that inspired the brand’s name. It was still winning in 1973, taking the inaugural World Rally Championship for manufacturers and the first three places at the famous Rallye Monte-Carlo that year. In 2018 the Alpine brand was revived with a reborn mid-engined A110.

Renault

Renault in miniature 2
Renault

My collection isn’t just about exotic cars like Lamborghini and Porsche. I also like everyday cars in miniature.

French cars have a certain Gallic charm. In real life I had two French Cars (a Citroen ZX and a Peugeot 306). I never had a Renault, although I did consider a 19 once.

Renault 17TL Outside
Renault 17TL (Matchbox)

I have always liked the Renault 17, it might have only had 4 cylinders but the style was from my favourite era: the early seventies. As a kid in the early seventies, I was car  crazy and seeing a Renault 17 on the road was a treat. I have two in miniature the Matchbox model above and a Solido 1:43 model in blue.

The Corgi 16TS is probably my favourite Renault model. I found it here in Tbilisi at the Dry Bridge Market. It cost just 20 lari ($7.78). The model was made in Great Britain at the Mettoy factory in Swansea in the late sixties. The actual car was quite revolutionary, being both a hatchback and having front wheel drive, nowadays this is common but at the time this was ground breaking. The model has two cogs accessible on the base, which when turned tip the seats inside, an interesting Corgi feature.

Renault 16TS (2)
Renault 16 TS (Corgi)

The Matchbox Renault 5TL was produced from 1979 to 1986 and has an opening rear hatch. The Renault 5 was one of the first superminis in the 3 door hatchback style, which became very popular in Europe. The term supermini developed in the UK in the 1970s, as car manufacturers sought a new design to surpass the influential Mini, launched in 1959. Other superminis at the time were the Ford Fiesta, Fiat 127, VW Polo, Vauxhall Chevette and Mini Metro. From the first year (1972), the Renault 5 won over 5% of the French automotive market, then positioned itself 3 years later as European market leader. For more than 10 years it remained at the head of sales of small cars in France. In the end, more than 5,325,000 units were sold worldwide.

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Renault 5TL (Matchbox) (scale 1:52)

Alpine is the sporting offshoot of Renault.

Alpine Renaults 5
Renault Alpine

The models are usually blue, the French racing colour, but it is  the red 310 Alpine model which is actually made in France, the other models are made in Portugal, Italy and China.  I have five, made by Solido, Bburago and Deagostini.The Bburago model of the Berlinetta is 1:24 scale, the Bburago model of the Alpine 110-50 is 1:64 the others are 1:43.

French Cars: Citroën

Citroën  was the first mass-production car company outside the USA and pioneered the modern concept of creating a sales and services network that complements the motor car.  Citroëns have a quirky distinct style and there are many iconic models.

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Citroën x 13

Amongst the  iconic cars are the Traction Avant, the 2CV and the DS.
“DS
” is pronounced in French as “Déesse” which means goddess. When introduced in 1955, the car was revolutionary, the DS was the first car fully using Citroën’s now legendary hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension system that was tested on the rear suspension of the last of the Tractions. The DS was also the first European production car with disc brakes.

Citroen DS 2CV
Iconic Citroens : DS (Matchbox), Traction Avant (Siku), DS (Matchbox), 2CV (Norev) and DS (Norev)

When I am in a shop looking at diecasts and the assistant asks me “გისმენთ?” (gisment), which literally means “I am listening” but is usually “Can I help you?”, I often ask if they have any Citroëns, they rarely do. Citroëns are not common in Georgia (the country not the state), most of the cars on the roads are Japanese, German, Korean or old Russian models. I love the lines of the classic Citroën SM,  my favourite find last year was a Corgi Citroën SM from the seventies at Dry Bridge Market.

Citroen SM Corgi and Top Trump Card
Corgi Citroën SM

A limousine version of Citroën SM was produced exclusively for the French President. Norev made a 1:43 scale model of this Citroën SM Presidentielle.

Citroen SM Presidentielle
Norev Citroën SM Presidentielle

Hot Wheels rarely has a Citroën in their line up but they did make a C4 Rally recently, I picked up a couple of variants.

Citroen C4
Hot Wheels Citroën C4 Rally

Citroen traction Avant and bakery
Citroën Traction Avant (Siku) with suicide doors
Citroen 2CV + Lego
Citroën pioneered the modern concept of creating a sales and services network

Three Citroëns missing from top picture: Citroën 2CV (Welly 1:60 and 1:32) and Citroën DS (Norev 1:58). I have 16 Citroëns in my collection.