Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Random Car Wednesday: 1988 Alpine GTA Turbo

Used car lots aren't particularly uncommon in Austin, Texas, and for the most part they're all the same. The inventory usually consists of a pickup or two, some aging luxury sedans, and almost always a V6 Mustang of some sort. Imagine my surprise, then, when I walked past a small car lot and saw this parked amongst a bunch of Hondas and Mazdas. Behold the Alpine GTA Turbo.

If the name Alpine is unfamiliar, let's cover some basics. Alpine was a French manufacturer that often worked in close association with Renault. Their most famous model is arguably the Alpine A110, a swoopy sports car that was popular in rally racing for a while. This car, the Renault Alpine GTA, was a revised version of the aging A310 model. Developed to compete with sports cars such as the Porsche 944, the GTA was rear-engined and rear wheel drive. The motor was a PRV V6 quite similar to the one you'd find in a DeLorean, but there was also a turbocharged 2.5-liter version.

In terms of performance, the GTA Turbo was able to cough up 197 horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque. Being fairly light, this yielded a zero to sixty time of about 7 seconds, with a top speed of 160 mph.

American production was intended, but only 21 pre-series cars reached U.S. soil before Renault stopped selling cars in the country. That makes the Alpine GTA a very rare car around these parts. This particular GTA, badged as a Renault Alpine GTA V6 Turbo, was sold new in Japan, and was recently imported to the U.S. after clearing the 25-year import laws. It has roughly 45,000 miles on the odometer, a five-speed manual gearbox, and is being offered at what seems like an exceptionally reasonable price, especially considering the car's rarity. This is definitely a car you don't see everyday.

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