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Renault GTA

Renault GTA Published: 22nd Jun 2016 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Renault GTA

Fast Facts

  • Best model: A610
  • Worst model: Anything ropey
  • Budget buy: Normally aspirated GTA
  • OK for unleaded?: Yes
  • Will it fit in the garage? (mm): L 4415mm x W 1760mm
  • Spares situation: Very hit and miss
  • DIY ease?: Generally OK
  • Club support: Very good
  • Appreciating asset?: Even more so from here on
  • Good buy or good-bye?: Fast, attractive and unusual – but you need dedication to run one
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Prestigious and sporting Alpine brands take on the Porsche 911 but at much less cost. A fine driver’s car with top credentials and pedigree but many are not as good as they look

You’re after a supercar with real performance, is a genuine classic and yet can carry the family – albeit at a squeeze – buy a Porsche 911. Problem is that your budget is under £10,000 and you don’t want something that costs a fortune to run either.

Seems like an impossible brief, doesn’t it? But there is a solution, although it’s far from blindingly obvious.

Launched in 1984, Renault’s GTA replaced the A310. A completely new car, the GTA was longer, wider, better built and featured a different version of the Douvrin V6. Rear-engined and with four seats, here was a car that could swallow huge distances with ease and in comfort.

The alliance between Renault and Alpine had begun in 1955, when Jean Redele, Alpine founder, built his first car using Renault 4CV mechanicals. The A110, launched in 1963, was made with Renault’s co-operation, leading to the adoption of Alpine as Renault’s competition wing in 1971. In the same year the A310 was introduced and in 1974 Renault bought the specialists Alpine outfit.

Outside the UK Renault could trade on the Alpine name, but because of Peugeot Talbot’s ownership of the name here, cars sold here couldn’t wear Alpine badges. Perhaps this made a difference and maybe it didn’t – what we do know is that buyers generally weren’t tempted, as they preferred to sink their cash into a sensible 944 instead.


1984 GTA débuts in France, although it wouldn’t be officially imported to the UK until July 1986. There was initially just one model. Badged simply the V6 GT, it carries the model designation D500. Still using the Douvrin V6 taken from the Renault 25, the GT is fitted with a 158bhp 2849cc normally aspirated unit.

1985 There’s now a GTA Turbo, carrying the factory designation D501. The Turbo uses a 200bhp 2458cc turbocharged unit – a tweaked version of the 25 Turbo’s.

1987 Revisions to both models see the folding rear seats and stereo controls integrated into the steering wheel.

1988 More tweaks mean anti-lock brakes are now optional and, the following year, the instrumentation faces change from orange to a racier red.

1990 A ‘Mille Miles’ version appears for continental buyers only; the biggest change is bodywork graphics. The name harks back to the 1955 A106 Mille Miles, named after Jean Redele’s 1955 Mille Miglia success. Later in the year, the GTA Le Mans arrives, superseding the GT and Turbo and costing £36,995. Carrying the D502 tag, the Le Mans has a wider body and wider wheels. Just 300 are produced, 35 with right-hand drive. Available in metallic burgundy only, the cars have a catalytic converter which cuts power from 200 to 185bhp. Standard equipment now includes anti-lock brakes and leather trim.

1992 The final incarnation, the A610, is released in May. The faired-in headlights are replaced by pop-up items, the car’s structure is beefed up significantly and power-assisted steering is now standard along with anti-lock brakes and leather trim. A turbocharged 2975cc powerplant offers 165mph but buyers continue to stay away and look to Stuttgart instead.

1995 The last cars are built before Alpine closes its doors; just 67 right-hand drive A610s had been produced.

2017 The Alpine marque is set to return with an all new sports car likely to be priced between £40,000 and £50,000 to pitch it squarely against Porsche’s Cayman.


As the first Alpine to cross the Channel, the UK press found the GTA intriguing, alluring and a serious alternative to the more mainstream alternatives. When Fast Lane first drove a normally aspirated GTA in spring 1985 the verdict came fast: “Throttle response is crisp and instantaneous, with a rorty bark from the engine answering large throttle demands… Surprisingly, the body transmits very little boom – a criticism levelled at other plastic-bodied cars, and insulates the passengers remarkably well against noise from all directions… What Renault now has is a serious 2+2 coupé with the looks, talent and pedigree to challenge Porsche’s own 944”.

The same magazine ran a GTA Turbo on its long-term test fleet and even though it proved less than reliable that didn’t seem to matter – its various custodians all loved it. In nine months and 20,000 miles the car needed new rear dampers, temperature sensor and a replacement steering coupling while the electrics, turbo pipe and fuel injection all played up; the normally aspirated car was carburetted while turbocharged models got Renix injection.

However, it went on to say what a big advance the A610 represented over its predecessor in terms of performance, comfort, refinement and ride quality.

Roger Bell, ex Motor editor, works Dolomite Sprint GP1 racer and regarded as one of the best road testers around, liked the GTA a lot and predicted, in Supercar Classics, that they would be become bargain supercars. “Despite its humble running gear, it goes hard, handles well and communicates endearingly.” However, he was more a fan of the non Turbo model for its smoother power delivery and, being 1cwt lighter, better weight distribution for improved handling which, Bell cited, as 911-like (but could bite like the German if similarly driven badly) although was pretty critical of the car’s tendency to wander in cross-winds, “Its most disquieting flaw” he believed.

Bell thought that the GTA’s fibreglass bodywork was of a better quality to that of a Lotus Esprit but countered this by disliking the cheap Renault dash with its “mud on black dials” that was more in keeping with one of its saloons. But overall, the GTA got Roger’s thumbs up!


Lee Crowston has run Renault Alpine Tuning Services (RATS) in Derby for four years but has worked on these cars far longer than that. He comments: “A610s are much rarer than GTAs which is why they’re worth significantly more. An A610 worth owning costs at least £10,000 whereas an equivalent GTA can be bought for between £3,500 and £6,000. Even a project A610 will cost £7000-£10,000 (an equivalent GTA is £1500-£2500), although these are now getting very scarce. Most valuable of all is a really good A610 which will cost at least £18,000, but for something exceptional you could pay £30,000 – although there are very few exceptional cars about and they rarely change hands. The best GTAs fetch around £15,000”.

According to Crowston, their exclusivity means that every year fewer and fewer of them are changing hands which is why you can’t be too choosy when buying. Some buyers want specific colours but it might be a case of snapping up whatever you can and investing in a respray.

Crowston adds: “Before buying make sure the car is as good as you think as there’s a lot of metal hidden within the car’s structure. This metal isn’t galvanised and there’s a particularly large amount in the A610 which is why restoration costs for these later cars can be so much higher. Over the past four years I’ve worked on 20 GTAs and eight A610s, all of which had significant rust issues. The good news is that we’ve got to the point where few cars are beyond restoring thanks to increased values and in some ways you’re better off buying a heap than an average car as both will probably need significant work to replace corroded metal”. Crowston concludes: “It would be easy to assume that buying in Europe would make things easier and while there are more cars over there, prices are even higher. Overpriced cars are also common and the chances are that anything you bring in from Europe will have the same problems as the cars already in the UK.

“Throw in the fact that whatever you import will almost certainly be left-hand drive and you can see why shopping in Europe isn’t a good idea”.


A completely standard GTA or A610 is fine for regular use but if you plan to do the odd track day or drive the car hard a few upgrades are worthwhile. Sometimes you have to fit aftermarket parts simply because original bits are no longer available. That’s the case for the suspension which is why Gaz shocks are a popular swap. At £650 per set of four they’re adjustable for ride height as well as stiffness. The alternative is to fit Spax dampers at a grand for a set of four. Grooved discs are £180 per pair while Ferodo DS2500 pads are £80 per axle set; the rear brakes are generally fine as they are on all models although if you want larger anchors on the GTA it means upping the wheel sizes to 16inch to accommodate them.

The sky is the limit when it comes to the engine, but most A610 owners keep things standard. The GTA V6 is modified more frequently though, usually by fitting an extra chip to the Renix ECU which allows the engine to be remapped. With a bigger T3 turbocharger, larger injectors and a high-lift cam, a reliable 250bhp or so can be extracted from the engine, putting the GTA unit on a par with A610s.


Our man Richard was so impressed that he bought one – but wishes he hadn’t?

The A610 is a very pretty car and if contemporary reports were anything to go by it’s also a blast to drive. So, when I was asked many years ago to write a feature on the GTA and A610, I was smitten. Here was a car that was reliable, well served by specialists and with good spare parts availability too. So in 2012 and with prices far from extortionate, I decided to take the plunge and buy an A610, as I preferred its looks and improved build quality over the later GTA.

I approached the Renault Alpine Owners’ Club (RAOC) expressing an interest and just six weeks later I was contacted by an owner. His car was for sale but it was priced at the top end – and he wasn’t in a haggling mood… I looked at the car, saw the rusty sills but bought it anyway; it would be almost another year before another A610 changed hands in the UK.

But quickly things started to go wrong. I handed it over to a specialist who charged me for work he didn’t do then he refused to give me my car back even though I’d settled his bill in full. As soon as I got it back the crankshaft sensor failed so the car wouldn’t start. On the way back from getting that sorted the gear linkage failed leaving me stuck in fifth – that was an interesting drive home! Next I looked into getting the sill corrosion fixed and was quoted eight grand to do the job. My dream was turning into a nightmare.

Then I had a stroke of luck. Lee Crowston was setting up Renault Alpine Tuning Services in Derby, having worked on his own GTAs and A610s for years. He came highly recommended and could sort out the rust for £1500. While he was at it he could powdercoat the subframes and go through the car to see what else needed doing.

Despite having clocked up just 60,000 miles from new my A610 needed a new turbo and clutch along with fresh injectors. The brakes and suspension were tired so they were replaced while the engine bay was spruced up as it was looking pretty grubby.

By the time the work was done I’d spent as much refreshing the car as I had on buying it, but it’s now one of the best. With values having climbed quite sharply in the past two years I’m almost at a point where I’ll get my money back if I sell. Ever since purchase I’ve struggled to love it because of its woeful reliability record, some of which may have been down to its lack of use.

As this issue went to press, for the first time since I acquired it my A610 is running well and I love having something different when I take it to classic car events. Maybe I’ll keep it forever or perhaps it’ll be sold soon – the Alpine brand is coming back next year, which could tempt someone to make me an offer I can’t refuse.
NB: Richard used it on Drive-It Day and he’s now in love all over again…

What To Look For


  • Poor gear selection is probably down to hydraulic problems with the clutch – slave and master cylinders are around £130 and £80 respectively. The rubberised balls within the gear linkage can also lose their shape leading to notchiness; replacements are cheap but fitting them is awkward because of poor access. Replacing the slave cylinder on a Turbo means removing the turbo unit, so it’s an all day job.
  • Make sure the clutch isn’t slipping as fitting a new one costs £1000+ because it’s an engine-out job. Turbo clutches should last around 60,000 miles with GT ones lasting another 20,000 – although only Turbo clutches are available now (but fit all models).
  • The driveshaft joints need to be analysed for wear, done so by jacking up the rear wheels and checking for play in the transmission; replacement driveshafts are no longer available…
  • Be wary of any play in the steering. Racks are durable enough but the universal joint that links the column to the rack can wear. New ones aren’t available which means reconditioning the old one.
  • Check the tyre wear as misaligned suspension can cause problems. With rear-wheel drive and a weight bias towards the rear the front tyres tend to last at least 30,000 miles. Rears generally last around 10,000 miles on Turbos and 15,000 on GTs – although non-standard wheels and suspension can reduce these mileages considerably.
  • Anti-roll bar bushes can wear out quickly and there are also 12 wishbone bushes that wear out – each bush is £35-£40. Wear is evident by driving the car at high speed, when the car will weave about – otherwise jack the car up and use a long bar to search for play.
  • Put the car on a shallow gradient to see if the brakes bind, as the handbrake mechanism – either the cable or calipers – can seize up. As well as seizing on they can seize off, so make sure they will hold the car on a steep incline.
  • If the car has ABS make sure the brake fluid has been replaced every three years or 30,000 miles. If it hasn’t, water in the fluid may have led to corrosion in the ABS system – meaning costly specialist work. More often than not however the ABS doesn’t work anyway though!


  • The Douvrin V6 is an unstressed unit whichever car it’s fitted to, and the use of synthetic oil from new should have minimised any wear.
  • The worst problem likely to be encountered is blown head gaskets, usually as a result of overheating. Warped cylinder heads are a possibility, although this is unusual. If you think the car you’re looking at is suffering from this it’s worth getting a compression check done.
  • The mild steel coolant pipes that run from the frontmounted radiator to the engine in the rear tend to corrode on GTAs, filling the radiator with sludge and rust. Because the inlet and outlet pipes are halfway up either side of the unit there’s no way of flushing the radiator out in situ.
  • Replacing the mild steel pipes with stainless steel is a popular modification, but it costs around £1000 as it requires removal of the engine and gearbox.
  • If the engine sounds tappety it’s probably because of adjustment which, on the right bank, are normally neglected due to access. Another potential problem is valve guide seals, which can also wear.


  • The electrics tend to be unreliable, things not helped by the fact that most of these cars are used sparingly, so things corrode or start to seize. Window motors are most prone and are hard to source. Poor quality connectors are to blame.
  • Alternators and starter motors can fail, although these can be fixed cheaply by using specialists. Wiper motors and GT fuel gauges can also be unreliable and poor relay contacts will lead to the indicators failing.
  • The earth straps can work loose between the chassis and both the gearbox and battery, leading to poor hot starting.
  • The air-con isn’t very reliable as the compressor is close to the exhaust. Switch the ventilation fan to maximum and, with the engine running, look underneath the rear bumper. The A/C compressor is on the nearside and you should see its clutch mechanism engaging and disengaging, activating the pump. If this is happening the basic system is okay. However, the design of the ducting means the system will never work very well, especially in the A610.


  • Both the A610 and GTA have a complex structure, with around 40 panels being bonded to each other before being bonded to the chassis. Check around the rear suspension towers, which rot as the chassis wasn’t galvanised. Also check where the bodyshell is bonded to the chassis and make sure the sills and mounting points are sound, as these corrode.
  • The GTA’s crossmember is also rot-prone but hidden out of sight thanks to the undertrays that should be fitted.
  • The glassfibre should be ripple-free, so poor repairs will be obvious. Similarly, panel fit is good as the cars were hand-built. Uneven panel gaps, especially either side of the luggage cover at the front of the car, will also indicate poorly repaired accident damage. Red and white cars will show up accident damage quite readily.
  • Alpine’s forte wasn’t painting the cars – spraying onto damp glassfibre was common, leading to microblistering. Even now this can cause problems on cars being resprayed…
  • Although the structure is fairly stiff, incorrect jacking can lead to enough flexing to cause hairline cracks in the bodyshell at the top of each windscreen pillar.
  • The headlamp glasses on GTAs are prone to damage from flying stones. Replacements cost £275 per pair from RATS; on top of that there’s a fitting cost. Thankfully, the deformable plastic nosecone, wings and bumpers are resilient, so bodywork damage is rare.


Three Of A Kind

The Excel, with its 2+2 configuration, is arguably a closer rival to the Renault but it’s the boosted Esprit that can match the French car for pace. Rarer and especially hard to find in really good condition, the Excel is something of a bargain but the Esprit is hardly overpriced. Facelifted for 1987 and capable of 165mph in Turbo form, the Esprit is ludicrously quick but can be fragile, so shop carefully. S4 is best developed range.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find one of these that hasn’t been modified to within an inch of its life but if you can track one down you won’t regret buying it for a minute. The Mk2 was offered from 1985 until 1991 then the Mk3 took over until 2002. From 1989 turbocharging boosted power to 200bhp (255bhp in the Mk3) so there’s massive performance on offer, but fuel economy is punishing at high speeds.
The rear-engined Porker is the obvious rival to the Renault and it’s a formidable adversary too. But prices are high which is why the 944 and 968 are also worth a closer look; they’re fast, beautifully built and very usable. Whichever you buy you’ll enjoy great club and specialist support, a fabulous driving experience and ample performance, and all at very keen prices if you buy a turbocharged 944 or 968.


Between 1986 and 1994 just 550 GTAs found buyers in the UK, fewer than 100 of which were the V6 GT. Many of those have since been broken thanks to previous low values and poor parts availability – the A610 is even rarer. As a result you’ll have to search for the right car and with values likely to increase when the brand is revived next year you’ll have to dig even deeper. Objectively, these cars are beaten by more obvious mass-produced rivals but this rather misses the point about this rare race-bred Renault. The GTA and the A610 are really for modern classic car enthusiasts who want something different, who don’t care about the lack of bulletproof build quality or its badge.

More highly developed than the GTA, the A610 is much heavier so it’s more of a cruiser than a sports car. So you want agility though, go for a GTA; with the right mods you can create a serious performance machine that looks a million dollars but costs rather less.

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