Lotus and DMC developed Alpine A310 for sale
Behold one of just seven cars bought to facilitate the development partnership between Lotus and DeLorean
By John Howell / Monday, November 22, 2021 / Loading comments
There are interesting cars and there are interesting cars. I think this qualifies as the latter, don’t you? And because neither DeLoreans nor Alpine A310s are my specialist subject, it’s taken me on a journey of enlightenment. I hadn’t realised, for example, that John DeLorean’s quest to build his infamous, two-door sports car had meant quite so many variations from concept to final production.
For a start, there were the numerous engine proposals. The first of which was a Wankel motor but that was dropped in favour of a Cologne V6. That was then superseded by a Citroën 2.0-litre from the CX, which was eventually canned because it was felt to be underpowered.
In the end, a solution was found in the form of the Peugeot-Renault-Volvo (PRV) 2.9-litre V6, but that necessitated shifting the power unit installation from midships to beyond the rear axle, and in turn that led to a complete re-engineering programme being enacted. That task was passed on to Colin Chapman and Lotus Cars. Chapman decided to drop the patented (but costly and complex) elastic reservoir moulding (ERM) technique, which was originally going to form the DMC-12’s plastic chassis. Instead, he moved to a steel backbone chassis that was along the same lines as the Esprit’s and the Alpine A310’s.
Because the A310’s rear-engine drivetrain was also similar to what was proposed for the DMC-12 – including using the same V6, albeit initially with a smaller-capacity 2.6-litre PRV – it was decided that the A310 would make the ideal testbed to engineer the DMC-12’s running gear. All of which brings us to this particular Alpine A310. As the advert states, it is one of seven A310s that were eventually purchased by DeLorean and used by Lotus Cars during that very development programme.
The A310 is already an interesting car, but I would argue that this car’s provenance elevates it into the super-interesting league. After all, its history is entwined with John DeLorean and the legendary Chapman, and it played a part in one of the most eventful automotive escapades from the latter part of the twentieth century. And who knows, could this be the car that the A310 that should’ve been? The Alpine never really received the development programme it needed to keep pace with the Porsche 911 and, as its production run rolled on, sales dwindled relative to the 911 – even in its strongly patriotic homeland.
One would assume that some of Chapman’s brilliance for car set-ups would’ve filtered into this A310’s suspension, which is described as having fully adjustable dampers. It also has 15-inch wheels instead of the standard car’s 13-inch alloys, and the split, diamond-turned rims with gold hubs look very period and very cool. Interestingly, they retain the three-stud format used with other A310s. Whether you’re a fan of Chapman, DeLorean or Alpine, this car would seem to be a must-have for your collection.
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