1977 ALPINE A310 GTP POISSON DIEPPOIS
Owned for 41 years by Mr Bernard Decure
Restored and entered in 2018 Le Mans Classic
The only Alpine A310 to have competed at the Le Mans 24 Hours
LE MANS CLASSIC
CLASSIC ENDURANCE RACING by PETER AUTO
PRV 6 CYLINDER 2,7 LITRE
230 HP @ 8 500 RPM
GETRAG 5 SPEEDS
Alpine A310 V6 “Poisson Dieppois” GTP
The history of Alpine is linked to that of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with cars that have become legendary entered in the great race: Alpine A110 and Alpine A210 succeeded the M63, M64 and M65 which paved the way in the early 1960s. Then, with the support of Renault, Alpine entered the A442 (A and B) and A443, culminating in the overall victory at the 1978 24 Hours of Le Mans. In this rich history between the French manufacturer and Le Mans - which continues nowadays - only one A310 will be engaged! Yet produced in more than 10,000 copies in its road version, it will be seen only once, in 1977, thanks to a private initiative led by Bernard Decure. This Alpine A310 V6, unique in many ways, is on sale today.
An Alpine A310 V6 that looks like a prototype
Technical inspector at Alpine in the 70s and pilot in circuit and hill climb, Bernard Decure discovers, left in a corner of the workshop, an Alpine A310. We are then in 1976. The Rouennais bought it and set themselves the goal of competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The car put aside by the Alpine teams had, during the winter of 74-75, been the subject of in-depth work. Mauro Bianchi had developed the chassis and François Castaing the engine, to give birth to an Alpine A310 “Group 5”. Young engineers from the Renault Gordini plant in Viry Châtillon including Jean Pierre Boudy worked on this car to make it into a beast of 320 horsepower and only 800 kg. It then had an all-aluminum Renault-Gordini V6 and a beam chassis, as well as a lightweight polyester body. The basis was a 310 1600 box, carrying a very light 2.8 liter Lucas injection engine.
Abandoned by Alpine-Renault - who will then develop an Alpine Renault A310 V6 for the rally - the car was therefore acquired by Bernard Decure… but without its engine! The PRV base was however the heart of the beast, but also the reason for stopping the program, with excessive costs. Whatever. Bernard Decure buys the car and officially asks Gérard Larrousse for support, which will never come. The parent company does not want the name Alpine-Renault to be associated with this “private” initiative, while at the same time efforts are being devoted to the A442s for the overall victory.
3500 working hours
It is with the help of the engine manufacturer Marc Guerbert (in particular) that Bernard Decure prepares the A310 V6, in the basement of his house in Cléon. 3,500 hours of work were required for the car to comply with the then GTP regulations. We found in this category very different cars: an Inaltera LM77, a WM P76, an Aston Martin DBS V8 and finally a Lancia Stratos. Eclectic.
Born as a kind of prototype and driven by Mauro Bianchi, the atmospheric-powered Alpine A310 V6 was in 1977 much closer to a “big GT” with its 225 hp PRV engine. Weber carburettors and a ZF 5-speed gearbox allow the Alpine in “blue, white, red” colors to attack the Hunaudières at over 250 km / h at peak speeds. Far from the best prototypes, due to reduced power. But logical because the regulations set the weight at 925kg, the Alpine becoming much heavier than the 800 kg measured when it was still a prototype.
However, the work is complete on the part of Bernard Decure and his companions: revised suspensions with wishbones and push bars at the rear, center nut hub carriers, new 88-liter tank, made-to-measure Gotti rims. There are also ventilated Citroën CX discs and ATE brake calipers with 2 and 4 pistons. At the crossroads of the production car and the prototype, the car - which does not have a chassis number - is the perfect expression of the Gran Tourisme Prototype.
Le Poisson Dieppois in the deep end of Le Mans
Nicknamed the “Dieppe Fish”, the Alpine A310 V6 owes this sweet name to the slogan it sports: “Dieppe Fish, fish of choice”. At a time when the manufacturers of cigarettes and other brands of alcohol often colonized the advertising spaces available on cars, this support seems unlikely. He starts from a joke between friends with Bernard Decure and Louis Gontier. They have a model made with the sponsor “Poisson Dieppois” (by Yves Legal) and present it to the Dieppe Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Banco. They leave with 60,000 or 70,000 francs, used to finance the project.
At the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the car qualified in 55th place with a time of 4'31''1 and started 54th, after the ousting of a competitor. The car is shared by Jean-Luc Thérier, Bernard Decure and Jacky Cauchy, alias “Cochise”. A 100% Norman crew. Although the top speed is lacking, the drivers discover an agile car, glued to the road and safe. An Alpine cut for the track, faithful to the first observations of Mauro Bianchi in 1974 and 1975.
The A310 V6 does not see the arrival, because of a clamp on the cooling tube too tight. He scared off the system. On returning (at the 17th hour of the race) Jean-Luc Thérier thought of an engine problem because of the overheating he observed, and the failure was not sought any longer. Abandonment at 6:47 am, while the engine was intact! The car was then in 28th position ...
In 1978, the adventure of the 24 Hours of Le Mans was attempted once again, with an improved engine. The Alpine A310 adopts a block of 2,848 cm3 and 310 hp. The preparations are made, in particular, using the Alpine test bench. The car is now in the colors of the sponsor Behar Electricity Motor with blue and white. Unfortunately, the car fails to qualify and is a reservist. Until the start, the hope of a new participation animated the team (Bernard Decure, Guillaume de Saint Pierre, Denis Morin, Marcel Mignot) without success.
Kept by its owner for 40 years
This unique Alpine was then kept by Bernard Decure until 2017 until it was sold by Ascott Collection to French collectors. A true “Time Machine”, this unique alpine was entrusted to Yvan Mahé, whose Equipe Europe workshop undertook a complete restoration of the car. This exemplary restoration was not intrusive and the patina of the bodywork has been preserved while all the mechanical parts have been extensively restored. The engine overhaul was entrusted to ORECA. The gearbox, the running gear, the brakes have been restored. A new electrical harness has been custom made. A new tank and a standard harness completed the whole thing.
The “Poisson Dieppois” was ready in time for the Le Mans Classic 2018 where it had no great difficulty in being selected. Forty-one years after taking part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the “Poisson Dieppois” set off for the legendary straight line of the Hunaudières to the delight of its owners and the public, who gave it a very warm welcome.
Owners who are enthusiasts feel they have accomplished their mission and have pleased Ascott Collection to entrust us with the car for sale. It offers the opportunity to acquire a unique piece of the Alpine brand which is in full revival.
Being an Alpine unique in the world, it deserves to be included in the finest collections.
Historical photo credit: Luc Joly