Alpine A310 Buying Guide

After the A106 and A108/110, the A310 was the difficult third shot for Alpine. But we shouldn’t forget it – it’s great fun, and great value

How much to pay

• Project £8000-11,000 • Good £12,000-19,000 • Concours £27,000-35,000 •

Overview

Practicality ★★★
Running costs ★★★
Spares ★★★
DIY friendly★★★
Investment★★★
Desirability★★

The Alpine A310 has often been forgotten, as a stepping-stone model from the rally-bred A110 to the V6 GTs that were the GTA and A610. Offered in four-cylinder and V6 variants across 14 years, 11,616 were produced, with the majority being the PRV-engined V6. The A310 was intended as an upmarket 2+2 alternative to the A110, following the discontinuation of the A110 GT4.

Initially, enthusiasts felt the car was woefully underpowered, owing to its larger, heavier body and identical engine. However, these criticisms were resolved in 1976 with the introduction of the V6. Production ceased only when Alpine was looking to enter right-hand-drive markets such as the UK and Japan, but felt that the already decade-old A310 was beyond the point where conversion would be economic.

The A310 was the last Alpine to be developed independently, and the last with any degree of in-house competition development or support. Its replacement, the GTA, was targeted more at the GT market than the competition market – and Renault had an in-depth involvement in its development and marketing. But what should you look for when buying an A310?

Your AutoClassics Alpine A310 inspection checklist

Engine

Early cars used the Renault Cléon-Alu four-cylinder engine from the A110 and Renault 16. Also used in the Lotus Europa, it’s a strong engine with little for owners to worry about, and specialists in France and Germany should be able to help with most parts owing to the popularity of the A110 model.

Later cars, from 1976, used the V6 Renault Z-Type, also known as the PRV. This engine was used in the DeLorean DMC12, Renault 25 and Citroen XM amid various others, so finding spares and service items is unlikely to be an issue. Major problems are uncommon, although check for rattly camshafts and have a compression test done if the car’s known to have suffered head-gasket failure.

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Gearbox

Four-cylinder models used the 365 gearbox derived from the five-speed Renault 16. Again, it’s shared with the Lotus Europa, so parts are relatively easy to come by through Alpine and Lotus specialists. Notwithstanding that, it’s a strong gearbox and should pose few problems in service.

Later cars with the V6 engine use the Renault UN1 transaxle also seen in the Lotus Esprit and Renault 25. This operates by cable, driving selector rods in the transaxle. Input shafts can be damaged through careless hard starts, as can clutches, but all the parts are available through Alpine and Lotus specialists. As this transaxle also saw service in the GTA Turbo and A610, it’s more than up to minor performance mods – and uprated parts allow for up to 400bhp in theory.

Suspension and brakes

The double-wishbone rear suspension set-up was shared with later examples of the A110, and as such most spares are available through the wealth of A110 specialists. This was Alpine’s own system, rather than being derived from contemporary Renault products – although some Renault parts were used in the construction of the upper front suspension. The vented discs and the rack-and-pinion steering set-up were lifted from the Renault 12 Gordini, and while parts for those are scarce, an Alpine specialist should be able to help source parts.

Later cars shared suspension components with the Renault 5 Turbo, including the four-stud wheelhubs.

Bodywork

Bodyshells were formed in two pieces – an upper moulding and a lower moulding, which were then bonded together. If a seller claims a car has been restored, the shell should have been separated in order to gain access to certain hard points on the chassis. If the body was never separated, assume that there is corrosion to deal with at a later stage. Ideally, the shell will have been stripped prior to a respray, too – if not, the lines can be altered and it won’t look original. Value any overpainted car appropriately.

Don’t be concerned by a welded chassis – at least, one that has been well repaired. A310s used a number of parts-bin trim – Simca 1310 indicator units, for instance – and while much is available through specialists some of these minor items may be sourced more quickly via eBay or Leboncoin.

Be suspicious of any right-hand-drive models – Alpine never officially produced them. The GTA successor was launched because Alpine was keen to enter RHD markets but felt the A310 too dated to justify a conversion.

Interior

Interiors were trimmed in suede or leather, neither of which is an issue for any competent trimmer. A few have been converted to race or rally specifications with aftermarket seats; these shouldn’t adversely affect value, provided you are looking for a car in which to compete.

More likely to pose problems are the interior plastics, which are styled in a type of suede flock that can become damaged by sunlight. Retrimming to an acceptable standard is possible, but as this is a specialist job the price of the car should be commensurate with the work that will be required.

History

● 1971 Alpine A310 launched.
● 1976 Restyled by Robert Opron, PRV fitted to create A310 V6. Four-cylinder discontinued.
● 1982 GT Pack available with wider arches and skirts, larger spoilers, 2.8-litre engine with triple Webers.
● 1984 Renault GTA launched. A310 discontinued.

AutoClassics says…

The Alpine A310 is a curious beast in that it appears to offer the best of all worlds, and yet few care to remember its efforts. Smaller and more competition friendly than an A610, benefitting from further development than the A110, and available in four and six-cylinder guises to suit personal tastes, there is an option for everyone. It’s also the cheapest Alpine, the least likely to be seen at a show, and yet there is nothing impure about the mix – it is what an Alpine should be.

None were officially imported to Britain, and yet a few have made their way here. While many might think it’s a kit car by dint of its rarity and unusual shape, you as a potential owner can enjoy driving one of Europe’s rarest and best-value sporting GTs. With reasonable spares back-up, it makes an excellent fast road car or entry point into competition.

Specifications

Alpine-Renault A310 V6
  Power 148bhp
  Top speed 137mph
  0-60mph 7.2sec
  Economy 25mpg

Picture courtesy of MagicCarPics

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