Thinking of 1970s supercars, the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati instantly come to mind. While those Italian purebreds may be superior cruising down the Autostradas at triple-digit speeds, they are less fun to drive on twisty backcountry roads.
While an early Porsche 911 is a great sports car and a wonderful car for such duties, it's not a supercar. To find one of those, we'd have to travel to France, the birthplace of the fantastique Renault Alpine A310.
A contemporary of the Lancia Stratos, the esoteric Alpine A 310 is a featherweight road rocket that prevailed in many of the most grueling road rallys all over the world. In 1977, an A 310 even won the French Rallye Championship against the most scary-looking "Group B" competitors, nicknamed the "Killer Bees," which ultimately were outlawed.
Very few of these Alpine supercars have made it over to the New World. According to the literature included with the car, only one 1977 A310 is known to live in the United States today: this one!
Built in 1976 and titled as a 1977 model, VIN *43095* was legally imported to the U.S. more than a decade a go and has been in the care of loving aficionados ever since. Mileage shown on the odometer is 57,635 Kilometers, which converts to 34,930 miles. After inspecting the car and studying the accompanying car file, we believe this to be the original mileage of this car.
A veritable mountain of documents come with the car. There are service records, receipts of parts purchases, shop manuals, spare parts catalogues, club newsletters, and volumes of correspondence between the owners and various mechanics and vendors. To claim this Alpine to always have received the best of care would be an understatement!
Alpine's beautiful coachwork looks original and unmodified. The car may have been repainted once, in its original color. Although there are numerous paint blems, such as chips and small cracks in the area of fenders and front bumper--typical of these light GRP bodies--the car still attracts admiring looks and favorable comments all the time.
What really makes this fine example stand out in any car show crowd is the rare N.O.S. decal set, obtained directly from France. Large "Alpine" crest and red, gray, and blue stripes look phenomenal on the virginal white background.
A very desirable period option, genuine GOTTI lightweight aluminum wheels have been polished to a chrome-like luster and are fitted with fantastic YOKOHAMA AVS super high performance tires of the dimension 205/60-13V.
If you often wondered how low you can go, look no further than the Alpine. On par with Lamborghini's Miura, the Alpine's roof hits a mere 47 inches at its highest point!
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Sizeable front trunk is super clean. A plastic insert serves as the luggage compartment which can be removed in an instant, after which there's easy access to the safety fuel tank and various front end components. Designed as a rally car right from the start, easy serviceability was very high on the list of objectives. Digging deep into the inner cavities, we can confirm with confidence that there are no signs of any accident damage anywhere.
Alpine's cockpit presents itself in breathtakingly beautiful condition. Dash and gauges are in 100% original, pristine condition, befitting a super-low-mileage car such as this one. Note that the dash is completely covered with a woolen "mousehair" material that, just like suede, prevents reflections; hence, about every supercar on the planet comes with this very expensive material.
Body-hugging front seats come with built-in head rests, leg extensions and side bolsters for superior lateral support. They are super comfortable, even for taller and/or larger pilots and beautifully preserved.
Gray wool headliner is clean as well; note working dome light.
Almost inconceivable for a rear engine sports car of such sexy design, the A310 seats 4 people!
Yes, that's right, there's sufficient space in the back for two teenagers to tug along. We wouldn't claim that these are the most spacious rear seats, but they surely are every bit as nice as the ones found in a Porsche 911 or 928, or Ferrari Mondial, for that matter!
Like in a Porsche 911, the Alpine's engine resides way out back. It's a visual and aural delight par excellence! In the pre-all-wheel-drive days, a rear engine, rear drive car was the hot ticket to get around the turns fast, using plenty of throttle steer.
Often referred to as the PRV powerplant--as it was a joint development between Peugeot, Renault, and Volvo--the Alpine's 2.7-Liter OHC V6 is clean as a whistle!
Equipped with "six-pack" induction consisting of three WEBER 2-barrel carbs and a DEVIL header and exhaust, this motor was professionally massaged and tuned between 1997 and 2004. Receipts for parts purchases at Simon Auto and maintenance at Frederick Motorsports totalling $13,300.00 are included. Apart from the expensive speed parts mentioned above, a new clutch, rear main seal, water pump, belts and hoses, fuse holder, tires, battery, coil, motor mounts, ball joints, tie rods, coil-over shocks, springs, wheel bearings, starter, head gaskets, grille, air cleaner, master cylinder, and assorted weatherstripping were among the items installed during those years.
Right now, the power plant is said to produce 205 stout horsepower; after driving the car, we don't doubt it!
Clean as a diaper and dry as a French baguette, it's also a piece of art.
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Alpine's undercarriage is aerodynamically smooth, like that of a Lotus. There's no damage, despite the car's low riding height, giving testimony that this Alpine was never abused.
September 11, 2007, seemed to be a perfect day to drive a French automobile. We left early in the morning, enjoying San Buenaventura's sunny skies and perfectly dry pavement.
Our behind riding only 3-½ inches above the tarmac in a missile of only 1,700 lbs weight, we did not need a vivid imagination to realize that this is a sure-fire combination for one heck of a rollercoaster ride!
We prime the WEBERs, turn the key, and the Alpine immediately comes to life. Right then and there we realize: this is a car that delivers! Exhaust note is throaty, throttle response instant. Put it in first and off we go!
Wide 13-inch wheels, mounted to a race car-derived suspension with negative camber. Have you ever driven a Kart?
There's no way to explore the limits of the Alpine on public roads, and we know it will take huge cojones to attempt such undertaking even on a race track. Steering is race-car direct, road-hugging ability borders on the insane. Propulsion in every gear is breathtaking, accompanied by a veritable orchestra of mechanical music.
Returning home, we are fully satisfied as to the Alpine's abilities. Except for a tach that reads on the high side, everything works as it should. The car starts, runs, drives, steers, handles, and stops excellently.
If you've been searching for a sports car that performs as good as it looks, is as eclectic as it is rare, and presents a solid investment, look no further. Alpine's body won't rust, ever, and despite the car's rarity in the New World, the PRV engine can be serviced by any competent Volvo, Peugeot, Renault, or DeLorean mechanic.
Here's a unique opportunity to acquire a low-mileage 1970s French supercar, the successor of Jean Redele's fulminant A110, slightly more civilized, but still a wild and exciting exotic animal at heart!
We sold this Alpine in October 2007 to a collector/dealer in Maryland.