The Renault-Alpine GTA Was France’s Answer To Porsches In The ’80s
I’m going to put my gearhead credentials on the line here for the sake of integrity: I had absolutely no clue this car existed prior to stumbling upon this RM Sotheby’s listing. (A failing we will never discuss again.–Ed.) Maybe it’s just me, but I see some Ford Mustang 5.0, Porsche 928, and Mitsubishi Starion in the design. Those styles shouldn’t blend well but, somehow, this works.
Perhaps it’s getting my oddball sympathy card because it’s French and it packs a rear mounted turbocharged V6, but there’s no denying this 1990 Renault Alpine V6 Turbo has character.
In normally-aspirated guise, the car debuted in 1985 at the futuristic Amsterdam Rai and was Alpine’s first vehicle released under Renault ownership. Conceived to push avant garde technology and performance into Porsche’s face, the basic car had a lot going for it. To start, it was was built on an innovative central backbone chassis—a skeleton frame concept derived from Lotus. The bodywork was essentially an updated sleeker version of its A310 predecessor, but constructed from fiberglass and polyester fibers reducing weight to 1,200 kilograms (~2,600 pounds).
As evolution dictated, it also got turbocharged—like the example you see here—and named the Grand Tourisme Alpine, GTA for short. I’ll get to its performance, but it’s also worth noting the GTA/A610 received some of the coolest turbine wheels of the 1980s.
Glass c-pillars eliminated the A310’s thick blind spots and the wheelbase gained 70mm—adding rear legroom to the 2+2 RR layout. The body panels were bonded to the chassis for extra rigidity, and thanks to Renault’s larger budget the overall build quality was greatly improved.
With a drag coefficient under .30, the V6 Turbo model (like the one for sale here) was faster in some respects than its German rivals, especially above the posted limit. 200 spooled-up horsepower mated to a five-speed manual gearbox equated to a 6.3 second 0-to-60 time up to a 150 mph top speed. With double wishbone independent suspension at all four corners in such a light platform, the Renault Alpine offered capable handling without sacrificing ride quality. So, it looked good, was plenty fast, and seated four comfortably: sounds like it should have dominated its segment, right?
Unfortunately, due to the majority of the manufacturing being handmade, production was limited to an average of just three per day with less than 7,500 made in total. This oh-so-‘90s dark teal metallic example was sold new in Japan making it a rare J-spec model, which features the higher output engine—many countries received slightly detuned models due to various emissions/bureaucratic regulations.
With just 28k kilometers since new (~17k miles), this might be one of the lowest mileage all-original specimens left. With such a low estimate and being offered without reserve, you’ve really got no excuse here. Buy this, bring it to the local cars and coffee, and show enthusiasts like me an awesome car they never knew existed.
– Japanese market-spec model
– 28,000 kilometers (17,400 miles) since new
200 horsepower, 2,458 cc SOHC V-6 engine, five-speed manual transmission, front and rear independent suspension with coil springs and anti-roll bars, and four-wheel ventilated disc brakes. Wheelbase: 92.1 in.
Chassis no.: VFAD5010500023155
Photography courtesy of RM Sotheby’s