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Alpine A310. 50 years of the model that wanted to be an A110 for the day to day

In the early 110s the Alpine A1971 was still in top form, winning rally after rally. However, in 310 its successor was presented with the intention of reaching a mass market thanks to the adoption of a more friendly cabin. However, the A6 was hampered by insufficient mechanics, which attempted to be patched up with the 1976 VXNUMX version.

In automotive sagas like the Porsche 911 there are always debates about which is the best of all. However, these diatribes are framed by subjectivity. That is to say, what is put on the table is not the technological development of the latest versions compared to the oldests. But the superiority or not of the sensations that the most primitive models can offer to lovers of a purist driving. In this sense, the data speaks for itself by confirming the greater power and effectiveness achieved in each generation.

However, this does not happen in all the sagas since there are cases where the successor was questioned by the event. Even more so if both models have coexisted in their production lines and approvals for competition for some time. Just what happened with the Alpine A110 and A310. Designed to replace the mythical berlinette, the Alpine A310 was introduced in 1971 as the natural evolution of the model released just a decade earlier. However, the sale of the A110 continued until 1978 with even new versions such as the 1600S being launched with its replacement already on the street and in rallies.

A coexistence where the A310 had to do not only with the aura of prestige of its predecessor. But also with a performance weighed down by a lower power than that of some versions of the A110. A fact that, for greater drama, was combined with his almost 300 kilos more than weight. So things, The Alpine A310 was never quite a credible and respectable car at the time. Made by which, in 1976, it was equipped with a new V6 engine replacing its original four-cylinder in-line. Its less remembered version but at the end of the day original, which now celebrates its half century of existence.

ALPINE A310. EVOLVE AN A110 FOR DAILY USE

In the early 110s Alpine was on the cusp of rallying thanks to the portentous performance of its A1973. However, this model did not bring commercial benefits on a large scale. Since its spartan and demanding character in driving, it was destined for a very specific market niche. That is why, while it was being updated to continue sweeping the tracks -in XNUMX it won the constructors' title of the World Rally Championship- the company prepared a substitute with greater charms for the market. To do this, the Alpine leader Jean Rédélé laid out the main lines of a GT 2 + 2 that could be used daily by a driver who is not necessarily an expert.

Something logical from a financial point of view. Since, although it finally ended up being absorbed by Renault in 1973, Alpine wanted a certain independence only possible thanks to a mass marketing model. For this reason, they started by giving the Alpine A310 a warm and comfortable cabin. Certainly much more conventional than the extreme cockpit of the A110, but offset by the futuristic body design by Michel Beligond. Which featured in the case of the first units a groundbreaking front design with six headlights.

In addition, the A310 was intended to continue with the same dynamic qualities of its predecessor. Repeating the formula of a steel central beam chassis with independent suspensions and the engine hanging behind the rear axle in a longitudinal position. All this covered by a body made of fiberglass and a weight distribution that, without being perfect, was not unbalanced to bring the engine in a position that I only use in the Porsche 911. Thus, the idea of ​​repeating the A110 scheme but giving it a more suitable character for day-to-day life was promised as a great sales success. An excellent plan that, however, was weighed down by the continuity in the mechanics.

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310 A1971 schematic

CHANGE EVERYTHING EXCEPT THE ENGINE

Maintaining the basic outline of the A110 was not only a good idea, but also the predictable since a saga that came from 1958 with the A108 was taking hold. However, the truth is that equipping the A310 with GT qualities for the day to day raised its weight to 940. Much more than the 620 given by the most powerful versions of the A110, and clearly much beyond the only 520 of the A108. Thus It was essential to equip it with powerful mechanics as well as nervous. Thus capable of propelling the weight of the new Alpine offering similar sensations to those of the berlinette that was already fighting on the dirt tracks with the brand new Lancia Stratos.

However, it was decided to mount the 1600cc four-cylinder installed in the R17 and R19, coupe versions of the R12. With it, the power stayed at 128CV at 6250 rpm offering a peak of 211 km / h. Features that, in truth, weren't a bad base. But insufficient to recreate the sensations offered by the A110 in a heavier vehicle. Fact that It was remedied when, in 1976, what became the best-known version of the A310 for the general public was installed: the V6.. In it, a completely new engine was mounted, developed between Peugeot, Renault and Volvo that with its 2664cc rose to 152CV.

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6 V1976 version

It is true that the weight increased, although not too much, passing just a ton. Of course, the weight distribution was seriously affected making the A310 V6 a difficult sports car to control. For this, in 1980 the running gear of the Renault 5 Turbo was mounted. Improvements that came too late, making this successor to the legendary berlinette a shadowy model between it and the 1985 Alpine GTA. However, Over the years the A310 has gained appreciation among Alpine fans even in its most modest four-cylinder version. Now very rare, since only 2318 were produced compared to 11484 for the V6.

Photographs: Renault Classic

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Miguel Sánchez

Written by Miguel Sánchez

Through the news from La Escudería, we will travel the winding roads of Maranello listening to the roar of the Italian V12; We will travel Route66 in search of the power of the great American engines; we will get lost in the narrow English lanes tracking the elegance of their sports cars; We will speed up the braking in the curves of the Monte Carlo Rally and we will even get dusty in a garage while rescuing lost jewels.

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