|Renault-Alpine GTA V6 Le Mans|
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Rally driver and Renault dealer Jean Redele started his own company in Dieppe, France in 1955. Named 'Alpine' the small company manufactured sports cars using many Renault sourced bits and pieces. Although the manufacturer was fully independent, the models were available through Renault's dealer network. In racing the Alpines proved very successful, winning the legendary Rallye Monte Carlo in the early 1970s with the A110 and competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans many times with Alpine prototypes.
Halfway through the 1970s Alpine was in a difficult financial position. Renault considered Alpine's road and race a valuable asset and prevented the manufacturer's bankruptcy by buying the company in 1975. At that time the line-up consisted of the two-seater A110 and the 2+2 A310. Although the A110 was still very successful, it badly needed replacing, especially considering it was originally launched in 1963. Renault refused to fund the development work and instead focussed on the larger A310. Production of the A110 ceased in 1977.
Originally launched in 1971, the A310 shared the A110's backbone chassis and four cylinder engines, but the sharp wedge shape styling was quite a departure from the round A110. To take on Porsche and other supercar manufacturers, Renault-Alpine launched a V6 version of the A310 in 1977. Fitted with a 2.7 litre Renault V6, producing 150 bhp, the slightly restyled A310 V6 was a big success. In the following seven years it was in production, over 1000 examples rolled off the line each year. With Renault's help, Alpine was back in business.
At the end of the 1970s and in the early 1980s Renault had great successes on the racing track with Turbocharged racers. These included multiple Formula 1 Grand Prix victories and a win at Le Mans with the Renault-Alpine A442. Using the vast experience gathered in racing, Renault developed a Turbocharged V6 engine for the A310 replacement. Displacing just under 2.5 litres, the Turbocharged V6 engine produced a hefty 200 bhp. Simultaneously a 160 bhp normally aspirated V6 was developed which would complement the Turbo model.
Dubbed 'GTA' for Grand Tourismo Alpine, the new car stunned the crowds at the 1985 Geneva Motorshow. The GTA shared its basic design with the A310, but technically it was quite a departure from the previous design. Both the changes to the design and the powerful engines offered were well received and the GTA proved equally successful as the A310. At the end of the production run, two limited edition models were launched, the Mille Miles and Le Mans in 1989 and 1990 respectively. The GTA's replacement, the 3 litre, 250 bhp A610 Turbo entered production in 1990.
Featured is a GTA Le Mans, easily recognisable by its revised nose and larger wheels compared to the standard Turbo. It is pictured here at the Zolder, Belgium track, where it took part in a world record attempt to get as many Renault Sport cars on track as possible. Well over 650 Renaults and Alpines were entered.
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