The Alpine A310 was a French sports car, produced from 1971-1985 by Société des Automobiles Alpine SAS, commonly referred to as Alpine, and it was very successful as a rally car. The car we’re driving for this article is a first generation A310, built in 1972 and while the V6 is usually the preferred motorisation, Peter, the owner specifically sought after a 4-cylinder after driving both versions. Read on to find out why.
Owner: Peter van Vliet
Author: Francis Plukker
Photography: Sim van Gyseghem
Peter with his beloved A310.
Getting to know Peter.
It’s wednesday the 15th of August when we meet up with Peter at his home in Oostvoorne. Before we go for a drive to the multiple shooting locations where we will do the photo feature, we have a cup of coffee and a little chat to get to know each other. From the start, it's immediately clear that Peter is a true Francophile and has a special bond with the country and French cars. At sixty two years old, Peter makes his living as an electrician. As a child, Peter has lived in the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and France due to his father's occupation. During his period in France, the love for this country, its cars and especially Renault developed. Peter has had quite a few interesting cars including a Renault 5 Le Car, renault 5 GTL, Renault 12, Renault 10 Major and a first gen Renault 4. Peter’s current stable of cars consists of a Renault 5 GT Turbo, a Renault Clio from ‘91 which is to be fully race-prepped and of course the A310 1600 VE, which is the subject of this car feature.
Meeting the car.
After we finished our coffees, we walked outside to the Alpine. The car has been in Peters possession for 12 years and he is still as fond of it now as he was when he just bought it.
The car has real presence with its swooping body lines, low-slung roofline and ample ‘hips’. The off-white A310 has accumulated a substantial amount of decals in the course of its 12 years with Peter, which give this Alpine a real ‘racey’ look. In contrary to a lot of cars, the stickers aren’t inspired or meant to resemble any existing livery. Every sticker is from a rally, benefit drive, car club event, trackday or race Peter has attended, because it holds a special memory for him or just because he thinks it looks good. The custom livery Peter has created forms a kind of diary which tells the story of everything Peter has experienced with the car.
Time to get in and drive!
Driving the A310 is a real throwback in time. The cabin is small and the engine sits right behind you. In 1972, Alpine probably thought that noise insulation wasn't very important in a sports car. You can hear the carbureted 4 cylinder snarl and growl, downshifts are accompanied with backfires and there always is a notable petrol smell present. But this all just adds to the fun and really pulls you in the experience that is driving in this car!
An impressive front.
Why this specific car
Peter bought this car because the price was right and as a project. Peter didn't want to buy a pristine car but rather one that he could fix up a bit to his own taste. However, he didn’t buy this car to be restored to pristine condition, with a historically correct livery, just to be a garage queen or an investment object. No, the paint isn’t exactly in concours state, the headliner is coming loose in places and the car hasn’t got a period correct ‘tribute livery’, but the car is just how Peter likes it and all those things all just add to the uniqueness of this particular A310. (Which shows when the car often attracts more attention on car shows and events than a lot of modern day supercars.)
When I asked Peter why he chose the 4-cylinder A310 instead of the often preferred V6, Peter answered that he had driven a V6 prior to buying his current A310. He found the V6 to be a great car but he preferred the liveliness and nimbleness of the 132 hp 4-cylinder to the more GT-like nature of the V6, which does have 20 hp more but also has about 50 kg of extra weight hanging behind the rear axle. Having experienced both myself, I have to say I agree. The 4-cylinder definitely feels like the sportier one.
An oldtimer to our taste.
Peter’s A310 is a car with history, a car that's been used for what it was designed for and therefore stands out between all the perfectly restored, immaculate and more often than not seldom driven oldtimers… Peter drives his A310 often, and he drives it hard, so he can enjoy it as much as possible… That’s exactly how we think it should be!