Rare Rides: A 1990 Renault Alpine GTA, Par Excellence

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides a 1990 renault alpine gta par excellence
We recently featured a little red Renault Fuego in this Rare Rides series. Though the sporty hatchback was successful in Europe, its fortunes were more bearish in North America. Renault intended to create a Fuego II with styling based on another sporty Renault offering, though money troubles at the company meant the project never came to fruition.The car set to provide styling for the ill-fated Fuego II is right here — the Alpine GTA.
Alpine wasn’t always under the Renault umbrella. The company started out back in 1955 as an independent builder of sports cars and racers. Typically the company used Renault platforms and components to make its cars, which intrigued the manufacturer with the diamond logo.Eventually Renault decided to seal the deal, purchasing Alpine in 1973. Renault Alpine was born. The company was dormant for a while as it developed new ideas, but by the end of 1984 it was ready to release the first-ever* Renault Alpine vehicle, the GTA.
The rear-engined, rear-drive GTA was essentially an overhauled and modernized Alpine A310, a car developed before Renault ownership. A310s were produced from 1971 through 1984, dovetailing with the GTA’s release. The new design was much more aerodynamic than the outgoing model, achieving a record-breaking drag coefficient of just 0.28.
The GTA’s slinky new shape was comprised of many different fiberglass and plastic panels, like so many Corvettes and Saturns. This kept weight down, meaning better performance from the 2.5- or 2.8-liter PRV V6 engines. The larger displacement engine was naturally aspirated, and the very same 147-horsepower unit found in a Renault 25 sedan. The 2.5-liter version was turbocharged and made a much more impressive 197 horsepower.These power and weight advantages provided Alpine GTA buyers with better performance than one of its main competitors, Porsche’s 944.
As per usual, Americans were left out of the ’80s GTA fun. Though Renault planned to sell the turbo version in the United States all the way back in 1986, development went along very slowly. That version had larger American-style bumpers, flip up headlamps rather than the sealed versions, and a special U.S. emissions-ready engine producing 180 horsepower. Suspension was also softened for comfort reasons, because Americans demanded comfort at the time (we don’t now). But the timing wasn’t right, and when the U.S.-spec GTA was finally ready for sale, Renault was in the midst of ending its sales at AMC dealers in the United States.The company also had concerns about plebeian AMC dealers trying to shift an expensive performance car. Guess they forgot the Matador, eh?
A major restyling updated the GTA for its final model years between 1991 and 1996. At that time, GTA changed its name, becoming the A610. As the A610 wrapped up production at the end of 1995, Renault thought it best to put the Alpine brand on hiatus. It would not make a return to the market until this very year, when the brand new Renault Alpine A110 went on sale (again, not in the United States).
The Rare Ride accompanying our story today is a 1990 model; last of the first generation. Since it’s old enough to travel alone, someone’s imported it into the temperate climate of Missouri. But that’s only its most recent home. This teal beauty started out life in Japan, and then was imported to the United States of Canada under its more lax 15-year importation rule. With just 19,000 miles on the odometer, the seller wants $37,995. Unlike other forbidden fruit purchases, you might be able to get this one serviced; the PRV V6 had quite a reach.
*Actual first-ever, not EcoSport-type first-ever.[Images: seller]
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2 of 18 comments
  • Geozinger Geozinger on Jun 27, 2018

    The first ever "first ever" was the Pontiac G6; that phrase was roundly criticized here and other places. Amusingly, many other companies have used this phrase, the latest being Ford. Heh! Back in the 80's AMC/Renault made some noises about bringing this car here. I was interested, as it would have been an affordable exotic. I'd seen pics of these cars over the years and the angular 80's rendition fit the times perfectly. However the reputation of the pedestrian AMC assembled Renaults was becoming well known and their relationship was winding down. No Alpine for me! Bummer.

  • HotPotato HotPotato on Jul 01, 2018

    That styling is SO RIGHT. Mon Dieu, I want. I expect the performance is tepid with the camshaft-eating PRV V6 though. And wow...we have come a long way in interior materials quality since the 1980s, have we not? This was a seriously premium car at the time.

  • Chuck Norton And guys are having wide spread issues with the 10 speed transmission with the HP numbers out of the factory......
  • Zerofoo "Hyundais just got better and better during the 1990s, though, and memories of those shoddy Excels faded."Never. A friend had an early 90s Hyundai Excel as his college beater. One day he decided that the last tank of gas he bought was worth more than the car. He drove it to empty and then he and his fraternity brothers pushed it into the woods and left it there.
  • Kwik_Shift There are no new Renegades for sale within my geographic circle of up to 85 kms. Looks like the artificial shortage game. They bring one in, 10 buyers line up for it, $10,000 over MSRP. Yeah. Like with a lot of new cars.
  • Ribbedroof In Oklahoma, no less!
  • Ribbedroof Have one in the shop for minor front collision repairs right now,I've seen more of these in the comments than in the 30 years I've been in collision repair.