The Gendarmerie Nationale and Alpine: a 50 years old partnership

The Gendarmerie Nationale just placed an order for no less than 26 Alpine A110s. They will go to  the motorways quick response units.  Alpine and the French Gendarmerie have been working together for more than fifty years.

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As early as 1967, the Gendarmerie Nationale ran Alpine Berlinettes. They were used by the motorway quick response units to get swiftly to incidents or accident spots to protect other road users rather than chasing speeders. Very often, they were used in conjunction with motorcycle brigades.

Alpine, since 1967

Back in the 60s and 70s, France got covered with motorways. Back then, cars were obviously much less efficient and there was not even a set speed limit until 1973! It came about in the wake of the first oil crisis in order to save money and, of course, as an attempt to lower the number of road accident victims. Back in 1967, moving along with automotive technology and the development of motorways, the Gendarmerie equipped itself with Berlinettes. At the time, it was also seen as an excellent way of displaying the police forces as being dynamic… a far cry from the R4 and other Estafettes that could barely make it to 100 km/h.

RENAULT ALPINE A310
The A310 replaced the A110. Both four and six cylinder versions were used by the Gendarmerie throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

The Alpine was already capable of reaching 200 km/h, it was in another world! By the way, these fast cars are not intended for chasing down speeding  drivers but to get to the scene of an incident or accident as quickly as possible and protect other road users. The gendarmes who are entrusted with these missions have always been carefully selected and trained at the Le Mans’ Bugatti circuit. An ideal place to master high-speed driving with complete safety.

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In the middle of the 80’s, Alpine competed more closely with Porsche and launched the GTA… the turbo version could reach 250 km/h but was not as successful as expected. Obviously, the French police forces used some of these, too.

From generation to generation…

The Berlinette, which remained in service till 1973 and got naturally replaced by the A310. It was used until 1987. Then the GTA arrived but, unlike its predecessors,  was never used on motorways.

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The 1990’s marked a turning point : the Gendarmerie remained faithful to Renault but moved on to sports saloons: 18 turbo, 21 turbo and then Megane RS. As the mandatory equipment list increased, more interior and boot space was needed!

Various Renault sports cars were in charge: the 18 Turbo from 1984 to 1987 and the 21 Turbo between 1992 and 1995. Then, different generations of Megane sports cars would replace one another from 2001 to the present day. Some of these vehicles can be seen in the Gendarmerie museum in Melun (near Paris).

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The new A110, in « Gendarmerie » livery. In order to reduce costs, Abysse blue was chosen as it is the colour that best match the force’s traditional hue.

The new A110

The French Gendarmerie will get 252 HP A 110s. The selected colour is Abysse blue, which is darker than the traditional Alpine Blue. For cost reasons, the police forces choose a standard colour which most closely match their own hue.

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Of course, the interior is modified and gets special equipment much in the same way as any other service vehicle used by the Gendarmerie.

Needless to say, such cars are also much easier to resell a few years later! Of course, these cars will come from the Alpine factory in Dieppe. Then, they will  go to Durisotti, in Sallaumines, (Northern France), in order to get all the specific equipment needed by the police forces : the flashing beacon, some reflective markings, a powerful siren, a lit message board… etc.

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Durisotti specialises in commercial vehicles conversions and will turn the A110s into Gendarmerie cars, fitting the stripes, the rotating beacon, the message board at the rear and the rest of the equipment.

Surely, sports car enthusiasts on holyday will appreciate seeing those Alpines next Summer while… sticking to the speed limits! (Text: Dimitri Urbain)

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No doubt Alpine enthusiasts will rejoice seeing the Gendarmerie logo affixed to the rear pillar of the A110.

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