Alpine GTA & A610 Buying Guide

Fast, stylish, rust-free and with good strong spares back-up. What's not to like about the Renault's Alpine GTA and A610? Here’s how to get a good one

Alpine GTA & A610 Buying Guide

How much to pay

• Project £2000-3000 • Good £5000-8500 • Concours £8750-14,000 •

Overview

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

If asked to list five 1980s supercars, few people would consider the Renault GTA V6, or its later A610 sibling. The subsequent products of a company famed for the A110 have become obscure, though interest has risen in the wake of Renault’s new Alpine A110 launch.

Unlike previous Alpine-Renaults, the GTA and A610 had limited motorsport pedigree – but as both were aimed at a premium segment of the market, they are far better trimmed and more able to withstand regular use.

Your AutoClassics Alpine-Renault GTA/A610 inspection checklist

Engine

The PRV (Peugeot, Renault, Volvo) V6 engine powered all GTAs and A610s in some form or another, be it naturally aspirated or turbocharged. Turbocharged variants used the Garrett AiResearch T3 turbocharger.

Both are relatively common – the PRV was used in a wide range of cars, from the Volvo 760 to the Eagle Medallion and DeLorean DMC12. This means spares for the naturally aspirated version are relatively easy to come by, as are service items. The turbocharged version was shared only with the Renault 25 Turbo, and then in a lower stage of tune. However, Garrett T3s are common enough and finding spares shouldn’t be an issue.

The PRV is relatively hardy owing to its understressed design and major failures are rare, though head gasket failure isn’t unknown and in extreme cases this can warp the heads. If you’re not sure, or if you suspect there are underlying issues, request a compression test. The owner of any decent example should have nothing to fear. Camshafts can start to rattle on particularly high mileage examples, though as the Alpine is typically a special occasions car your chances of finding a high miler are slim.

Gearbox

Alpine GTAs and A610s used the Renault UN1 transaxle gearbox, as found in the Renault 25 and Lotus Esprit as well as several kit cars. It’s got a cable operated shift, linked to selector rods within the transaxle. Typically the gearbox is robust in service, though too many aggressive starts can damage the input shaft.

Fortunately, all replacement parts for the UN1 remain available through Alpine and Lotus specialists, many of whom have developed uprated components allowing the gearbox to handle more than 400bhp. Clutches are long-lasting if treated with care – but dump the clutch frequently and you’ll be needing replacements. Again, these are available.

Suspension and brakes

Brakes have a habit of seizing on or off – so beware of any car that’s been left standing. It’s repairable, but for obvious reasons the car should not be driven until after a hefty brake rebuild if they have seized in either state. Check too that the car has had regular brake fluid changes; ABS modules don’t like it if you leave the fluid longer than 3 years, as water can get in and damage the system. If you’re in any doubt, walk away – it’s mendable and the parts exist but it won’t be cheap and it’s not a job to do if you have a choice.

Anti-roll bar bushes and wishbone bushes – of which there are 12 – can wear unevenly, and chances are these will have been neglected on cars that have seen only light use. If the car weaves under hard driving, they’ve probably gone – the other way to check is with the car jacked up, using a pry bar, much like in a roadworthiness test. Bushes are available, but any issues should be treated as a haggling point.

Bodywork

Unlike previous Alpines, the GTA and A610 were not formed from a pair of body mouldings. Instead, 40 separate mouldings were produced and bonded together to create a light yet strong body, which in turn was mounted to a separate steel chassis.

Check the bodywork for cracking and crazing, as with many fibreglass cars, and if there is any evidence of accident repair or paint repair ask to find out why. Some panels are polyester plastics, alongside the fibreglass ones – if the paint is evidently original there may be slightly different levels of fading between fibreglass and polyester panels, so don’t panic if the paint isn’t a perfect match.

Chassis can rot around the rear suspension turrets, sills and jacking points – they were ungalvanised so check these areas thoroughly. Also check the chassis around the body mounts – unsurprisingly, any rust here will require body removal to cure to a high standard.

GTAs and A610s use completely different panelwork despite the initial similarity, but panels for both are available from specialists. Difficult to find items include the rear lights, shared with the Lotus Elan M100.

Interior

Most GTAs and A610s will have leather interiors, and these should wear well. However, retrimming isn’t particularly difficult for a talented trimmer if your leather is past its best, split or torn. Switchgear is shared with other Renaults – and while some of it can be hard to source, specialists and the Renault Alpine Owners Club can usually help.

With just 65 right-hand drive cars sold, dash mouldings can understandably be hard to source, though the rest of the trim is relatively straightforward and is shared with the left-hand drive cars. Plastics can crack as they age, but most damage is repairable. Minor trim and seals are available through specialists such as Simon-Autos in Germany, specialists in Alpine and Matra products.

The air-conditioning system is less than reliable owing to its proximity to the exhaust. If it’s not blowing cold you’ll need a recharge and a dryer at minimum, more likely a compressor too. It can get expensive – so check it before buying.

History

  • 1984 Renault Alpine GT launched.
  • 1985 Turbo model launched.
  • 1986 RHD launched as the Renault GTA to avoid copyright infringement of PSA’s trademark.
  • 1987 Catalysed models appear, allowing the GTA to be sold in Switzerland.
  • 1987 Federal version launched. 12 produced. Eventually sold on home market.
  • 1990 Limited edition GTA Le Mans offered, with bodykit and suspension changes.
  • 1991 Extensive facelift which changed all panelwork, newly named the Alpine A610 with all Renault references dropped.
  • 1994 RHD imports cease, following slow sales.
  • 1995 Alpine production ends as market for French supercars tapers off. Dieppe factory utilised for Renault Sport Spider.

AutoClassics say…

It’s an interesting alternative to a Porsche 911, relatively inexpensive, with good parts supply and no chance of rusting panels. As mechanical components are derived from mainstream cars, parts shouldn’t be too difficult to source, either. On paper it stacks up as an ideal classic buy, and contemporary road tests suggest you’ll have a lot of fun with it too.

Now Renault has launched a new Alpine, interest in the older models is set to increase – and GTAs and A610s are no exception. Just 65 RHD cars were sold and these are obviously the most desirable, but an import will offer all the same thrills at a lower price.

Specifications

Alpine-Renault A610
  Power 250bhp
  Top speed 165mph
  0-60mph 5.9sec
  Economy 25mpg

Looking for an Alpine-Renault for sale?

Step this way into the AutoClassics classifieds

Cars