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RE: Alpine GTA/A610: PH Used Buying Guide

RE: Alpine GTA/A610: PH Used Buying Guide

Thursday 1st February

Alpine GTA/A610: PH Used Buying Guide

Find out what you need to know when pondering Renault's stylish alternative to a Porsche 911



In the market for an interesting rear-engined sports car? Well, if you're adverse to paying the ever-increasing prices commanded by many a classic Porsche, then you may well want to consider a Renault Alpine GTA.

After all, there is much of note about the oft-overlooked Renault. The svelte rear-drive coupe made extensive use of fibreglass and plastic panels and was underpinned by a steel backbone-type chassis. It also benefitted from a low-drag design and reputedly tipped the scales at a mere 1,140kg in base form.

The GTA arrived in 1984 in 'V6 GT' specification, which featured a naturally aspirated and carburetted 2.8-litre V6. The fuel-injected 'V6 Turbo' version followed in 1985, packing a 2.5-litre turbocharged V6 - which aided it in dispatching the 0-62mph sprint in 7.0sec. Both were well received, with Autocar describing the V6 Turbo as 'a very strong contender' and 'a real driver's machine'.


A special Le Mans variant was launched in 1990, which was based on the V6 Turbo but featured a wide arch kit, a different front end and BBS wheels. Then, in 1991, the GTA was replaced by the A610. While visually similar, not a great deal was directly shared with the GTA.

Buying an Alpine, however, is not a decision to be made lightly. Parts are increasingly hard to source or simply not available, and - while intricately and neatly engineered - they can be extremely difficult to work on.

Consequently, while a £4,000 project car may appear tempting, it could easily cost you the same again to bring it up to a sensible standard. Instead, aim to spend upwards of £8,000 on a good example. Turbos typically command a premium of a few thousand but you'll pay in excess of £30,000 for the later A610 due to its rarity.

Don't ignore the naturally aspirated GTs, though; while not as charming, tuneful or powerful, they are more reliable, less complicated and cheaper to run. In any case, a well-sorted example will be a distinctive and gratifying car to own and drive.

While this buying guide focuses predominately on the GTA, most of the following also applies to the A610 - which, while different, suffers from many of the same issues.

Inspired? Buy a Renault Alpine here.



Bodywork and interior

The Renault's exterior panels are durable but its steel underpinnings are prone to corrosion - and, often being hidden, difficult to inspect or repair properly. Key points to check for damage are the rear turrets, the exposed sections on the underside of the sills and the visible elements behind the front bumper. These will help give you an idea as to the general state of the chassis.

Exterior trim and components are hard to find. Consequently, reviving a tired example will require considerable time and money. Anyone considering a full respray, for example, will want to bear in mind that many exterior seals are no longer available.

The glass headlight covers are prone to delamination and damage. Replacements are available, as are Plexiglass alternatives, but either will cost around £300 a set. The bespoke tail lights are much harder to come by but were used by other manufacturers, including Lotus - so broadening your search may help. We wouldn't recommend approaching Cizeta V16T owners about the rear lights, though, as they'll likely charge somewhat of a premium.

The Renault's interior is relatively durable, given a modicum of care. Just beware of broken plastic trims or duff switchgear, again due to the difficulty in sourcing replacements.

Connecting pins for the heated rear screen's element can break and require repair. The circuit is completed by a connection made through the gas struts, however - so if they have need replacing you will need to source or refurbish the right unit for the screen to function.


Engine and transmission

The PRV engine used in all iterations is a durable and reliable powerplant. That said, in turbocharged form, it is inherently more complicated and consequently prone to more problems. In all instances, check the condition of the coolant and oil carefully for any signs of head gasket issues. Some tappet noise is not uncommon but can usually be adjusted out.

OEM water pumps for V6 Turbos are costly and extremely rare; alternative PRV water pumps can be used but will require modifications to suit the Alpine's temperature sender.

Good maintenance of the cooling system is essential. The coolant pipes that run from front to rear can clog with debris, or rust through and leak. Stainless replacements are available for around £300 but replacing them requires removal of the engine.

Intermittent electrical issues can prove troublesome. The harness's thin-gauge wiring and its insulation gets brittle with age, resulting in shorts that can be frustrating and hard to trace. Aftermarket ignition components can also fall below the required standards, causing problems.

The UN1 transaxle used in the Alpine shouldn't prove problematic but if a rebuild is required then have it carried out by an experienced specialist. Oil leaks from the output shafts are not uncommon, though, but easily fixed. It is important that the roll pin that links the CV to the output shaft is sealed in, though, otherwise the leak will simply continue.

Engine upgrades are available but significant hikes in output will require care and expense to be effective.


Suspension and steering

Unsurprisingly, many of the bushes and joints required for the Alpine's suspension are difficult to source - or command a substantial premium. Specialists like Simon Automobiltechnik in Germany are among your best bet for more obscure components.

Those seeking handling improvements can opt for a Gaz adjustable coilover kit, which is available for £595 from UK-based Alpine Renault Tuning.


Wheels, tyres and brakes

Most braking components for the Alpine are still available; a set of front discs, for example, can be ordered online. Rear calipers, however, are rare but can be refurbished.

The brakes are prone to seizing, so regular exercise - and leaving the handbrake off during extended periods of parking - is recommended.

Rear tyres, in particular, can be hard to find in the correct dimensions. In any instance, it's worth investing in the best available due to the car's capabilities and configuration.


SPECIFICATION - RENAULT ALPINE GTA GT V6/V6 TURBO/A610

Engine: 2,849/2,458/2,963-2,975cc V6
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Power (hp): 160/200/250@5,750rpm
Torque (lb ft): 163/210/258@3,500/2,500/2,900rpm
MPG: 28/29/25
CO2: N/A
Price new: £19,040/£23,635/£29,995
Price now: £4000 upwards

Author
Discussion

rastapasta

Original Poster:

232 posts

64 months

Thursday 1st February
quotequote all
What a beautiful car.

Prior to reading this I was of the thinking that owning such a car would be a pain as regards to maintenance and the sourcing of spare parts (relatively speaking). However, from what I can see its not that bad.

MalcolmSmith

54 posts

1 month

Thursday 1st February
quotequote all
These are fantastic cars, sweet spot for me is the GTA Le Mans, before it goes a bit more mainstream as the A610.

I know of a chap who got one after a 911 back in about 91, he claimed an instant doubling of people who let him out of junctions and a 10 fold increase of nose prints on the outside of the windows.

jmcc500

454 posts

144 months

Thursday 1st February
quotequote all
I remember waiting at the Chinese Takeaway with my dad, in about 1989, when one of these pulled up. I was straight out, staring through the windows etc whilst the owner went in to the Chinese and got talking to my dad. When he found out I was an enthusiast (albeit a 12 year old one!) he unlocked the car and told me to get a proper look. What a gent.

Awesome things. One day...

Prinny

565 posts

25 months

Thursday 1st February
quotequote all
2016, in France, on the way to Marseille.


clarki

864 posts

145 months

Thursday 1st February
quotequote all
The one car I wish I'd kept.
Mechanically mine was fine. Did 100k in it back in the day.
With an induction kit and a bit more boost it sounded and went very well.
It's electrical gremlins and rust to the chassis that will catch you out. Petrol tanks also perish.
My friend had a 348 when I had mine. Great cars, great drives out, great times. And everyone always seemed to want to know about the Renault. Which was nice.
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Lewis Kingston

75 posts

3 months

Thursday 1st February
quotequote all
In with the obligatory 'aren't modern cars big' picture. biggrin



Okay, so it was a lot longer than the Twingo, haha. The GTA was my dad's; I was considering buying it but, upon looking at the link I sent him, he hit 'buy it now' and landed it instead.

My outstanding memory, besides the noise and gremlins, was of it pulling away from my old TT quattro Sport 240. Okay, so the Audi was hardly the last word in performance – but I thought it would stand a fair chance, given its modernity and output. From low speeds the GTA just casually strolled away from it instead, even with the 1.8T giving absolutely everything it had, and across country it was similarly difficult to keep up with. Fab piece of machinery.



Edited by Lewis Kingston on Thursday 1st February 08:56

GTEYE

1,048 posts

136 months

Thursday 1st February
quotequote all
Fabulous looking cars.

How many other cars from the mid 80s still look this fresh?

The biggest challenge i suspect will be finding one.

The only criticism I had of them was the rather naff sounding name "Renault GTA" - they couldn't at the time call it an Alpine because the rights were owned by Peugeot (Talbot) in the UK.

Edited by GTEYE on Thursday 1st February 09:02

forgot my old username

9 posts

7 months

Thursday 1st February
quotequote all
I’m always reminded of the grade a clarkson smashing up one of the best examples of the Alpine in the UK for one of his stty DVDs. It’s on YouTube.

Blib

33,345 posts

123 months

Thursday 1st February
quotequote all
I bought a normally aspirated GTA new in 1989.

G400XBX. A terrific car - when it worked.

After months of problems and a new engine, Renault bought the car back for what I paid for it.

That was it or so I thought. Then years later the car popped up directly in front of me in a queue to get into a PH Sunday Service.

I could not be more excited. I approached the owner and offered to buy the car there and then. Even though it was in a pretty rough state.

He declined my offer, only to contact me a year later with a view to sell. But, by then the moment had passed and sanity had returned.

A fun car with terrible flaws.

HorneyMX5

3,884 posts

76 months

Thursday 1st February
quotequote all
The chairman of Farnborough District Motor Club has a tweaked GTA Turbo and uses it for Sprints. It's bloody brilliant. I've wanted one ever since one was pushed in front of my eyes as small boy in the 80s on a certain boat related TV show.

rooflover

35 posts

44 months

Thursday 1st February
quotequote all
I had a '98 GTA V6 Turbo, zero issues and great handling. Loved it. Wish I'd kept it now. It was a proper 4 seater too so really useable.

JeffreyLebowski

426 posts

133 months

Thursday 1st February
quotequote all
My dad had a 1988 NA version in ~1991 when I was about 8. It was bright red and I bloody loved it - fond memory of him hitting ~135 down the A33 towards Winchester with me egging him on!
Sadly the next owner spun it off a roundabout and wrote it off after just a few months ownership...
An A610 in yellow has been one of my dream cars for the past 25 years - unlikely to come to fruition sadly!

forgot my old username said:
I’m always reminded of the grade a clarkson smashing up one of the best examples of the Alpine in the UK for one of his stty DVDs. It’s on YouTube.
I quite enjoy watching Clarkson, but I was less than impressed when I saw that - intentionally destroying a car of that rarity is just mindless vandalism, especially when (as you mention) it was one (iirc) in near perfect condition. Wouldn't be quite so bad if it was a MOT failing basket-case.
The irony of it is that in period Clarkson was a fan of them judging by his writing in Performance Car...

Leins

6,347 posts

74 months

Thursday 1st February
quotequote all
Marcuuus Tandy

ChrisPackit

66 posts

49 months

Thursday 1st February
quotequote all

Great cars, and surely a performance bargain at the minute. Some super nice examples for around the £10k+ mark. Surely the rarity of these beasts will mean that their prices soon follow the likes of the 911 etc...

LotusOmega375D

3,658 posts

79 months

Thursday 1st February
quotequote all
PH says:

The fuel-injected 'V6 Turbo' version followed in 1985, packing a 2.5-litre turbocharged V6 - which aided it in dispatching the 0-62mph sprint in 7.5sec. Both were well received, with Autocar describing the V6 Turbo as 'a very strong contender' and 'a real driver's machine'.

Same Autocar road test (23.07.86) states 0-60mph in 6.3 seconds.

Interestingly the GTA Turbo was slightly more expensive than a Lotus Esprit Turbo. Not anymore!

entwistlecymru

97 posts

67 months

Thursday 1st February
quotequote all
There's been one sitting outside an old pub in Maenclochog, Pembrokeshire for 20 odd years, very much unloved. Such a waste for a lovely car frown


LotusOmega375D

3,658 posts

79 months

Thursday 1st February
quotequote all
I thought that was long gone? There was also a rotting white Ford Escort Mk 2 RS2000 X-Pack next to it, but that went first.

Lewis Kingston

75 posts

3 months

Thursday 1st February
quotequote all
LotusOmega375D said:
PH says:

Same Autocar road test (23.07.86) states 0-60mph in 6.3 seconds.

Interestingly the GTA Turbo was slightly more expensive than a Lotus Esprit Turbo. Not anymore!
Indeed. Motor even managed to eke a little more out of their test car, achieving a blistering 6.0/6.1sec in two separate tests. Renault then went on to use the 6.1sec figure in some of its advertising, if I recall correctly.

The original technical specifications quote 7.0sec from 0-62mph – I just managed to confirm that from original dealer material, so Matt very kindly updated the story for me (and thank you for drawing my attention back to it; was working off the highest figure I'd previously seen to avoid disparity between other figures that might be quoted in the article).

During one CAR test, however, the supplied GTA returned a 0-62mph time of 7.51sec. Climate, condition or mechanical sympathy might have played a part there, though.

One of these or a Lotus Esprit Turbo? Hmm... I think the Renault's six cylinders, rarity and oddball factor might seal the deal for me.

Edited by Lewis Kingston on Thursday 1st February 15:53

Lewis Kingston

75 posts

3 months

Thursday 1st February
quotequote all
entwistlecymru said:
There's been one sitting outside an old pub in Maenclochog, Pembrokeshire for 20 odd years, very much unloved. Such a waste for a lovely car frown
I dread to think what it's like underneath but, as you say, a great shame. Was it white, by any chance? Seem to remember seeing a picture of a very neglected example sat outside what looked like a pub.

mattrsd

87 posts

65 months

Thursday 1st February
quotequote all
Azev A's, some decent seats and a rorty exhaust. I loved mine. Sadly a future owner killed it. I can thank a previous owner for the great shots I remember it by though smile