(Jacob Rumans) #1

78


1978 Alpine A310GT
Engine 2664cc V6, sohc per bank, one Solex 35
CEEI & one Solex 34 TBIA carburettor Power and
torque 150bhp @ 6000rpm; 151lb ft @ 3500rpm
Transmission Five-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Steering Rack and pinion Suspension Front and
rear: independent, wishbones, transverse links, coil
springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar Brakes
Servo-assisted discs front and rear Weight 1015kg
Performance Top speed: 137mph; 0-60mph: 7.4sec
Fuel consumption 31mpg Cost new FF105,000
CC Price Guide £19k-£36.5k (standard A310 V6)

ten years, Renault is going to be the one to beat.’ He wasn’t just
referring to Formula One engines – he harboured a desire to
build something to defeat the Ferrari-engined Lancia Stratos and
Cosworth-powered Ford Escort on the rally stages too. And the
result of the 1978 Monte Carlo Rally suggested the solution lay in
the wheel-at-each-corner Renault 5 rather than the tail-engined
Alpine A310. The fact that rally victories could cast a halo effect
over a mass-produced shopping-car range only pleased Renault
top brass further. This thinking resulted in the Renault 5 Turbo,
and Monte Carlo victory with Ragnotti in 1981 – the car’s first
rally. The Audi Quattro scored its first win with Michèle Mouton in
Sanremo nine months later. The ingredients for the Group B rally
car were identified, and the A310 V6 didn’t have them.
But Alpine found another role for the A310 V6, which as a road
car was selling slowly and provincially against the more polished,
global Porsche 911 - a privateer Group B rally car to slot in between
the mass-produced 5 Alpine and the special-order 5 Turbo.
From February 1982, the car could be ordered with the ‘GT
Pack’, a collection of Group B-homologated modifications
and add-ons including a completely remoulded Fleschmann-
fabricated body incorporating wheelarch extensions, carried on
exclusive Alpine-Fleschmann-branded Nogano alloy wheels. The
Solex 35 CEEI twin-choke downdraught carburettor was joined
by an additional 34 TBIA single-choke
item on a special induction manifold,
resulting in a choke per two cylinders.
The GT Pack – Group B Homologation
number B-204 – could be retrospectively
applied to existing A310 V6s.
This one started out as a standard
car in 1978 before being turned into a
GT at the behest of its Parisian owner,
who also added the stopwatches, Halda
Tripmaster and plumbed-in engine-bay
fire-extinguisher for rallying; but

post-1981 examples also shared some developments with the
5 Turbo, including its rear suspension, hubs and wheels.
Sadly, it failed to make much of an impact even in this junior
role. At FF105,000 to the 5 Turbo’s FF115,000, it wasn’t cheap
enough and the marketing effort was half-hearted. The Garrett-
boosted 5 continued to rule Gallic asphalt stages.
And yet, the A310GT did manage to play a different role, perhaps
unexpected when its rally-car modifications were devised. In
1976, Renault had bought into the US market via a partnership
with AMC. One of the alliance’s dealer principals, Mike Parmekian,
had a history of grey-importing European supercars into the US,
and reckoned the A310GT could have another lease of life as a
Porsche 911 competitor in the US. He added a twin triple-choke
Weber carburettor setup, pumping power up to 193bhp from 150.
In its final two years, and with no official marketing, the Alpine
A310GT picked up a cult following in the US. Only small numbers
were imported – at $28,800 it was more expensive than the $27,250
Porsche 911 Turbo – but the press response was rapturous. Sports
Car Graphic declared it superior to the Porsche and more worthy
of comparison to the $47,440 Ferrari 308 GTBi, although Motor
Trend questioned its refinement and finish for the price, especially
because Parmekian’s 193bhp version cost an additional $6000.
Renault took notice of praise like this, and for 1986, embracing
the reliable potential of its worldwide
dealer network, reskinned and reworked
the wide-track rally-bred A310GT as the
smoother, more sophisticated road-
focused GTA, pitched directly at Porsche
and destined for a decade in production.
As RenaultSport absorbed the marque’s
rallying role, Alpine’s future lay in slick,
road-focused supercars. But without the
brutish-sophisticate A310GT to act as a
bridge between these eras, would the
marque still exist as we know it today?

‘Alpine found another

role for the A310 V6


  • as a privateer


Group B rally car’

[Alpine A310GT]