DeLorean - Alpine connectionText Box: In the dark days of the mid-70’s, John Zachary DeLorean left his position as vice-president of General Motors to follow his dream. He wanted to build a sports car that was affordable to many, be safe, reliable, inexpensive to own and run and, most importantly, be stylish.
Commissioning Georgetto Giugiaro to pen the overall design, DeLorean set about the onerous task of finding a place to build the car as well as bringing in Bill Collins to engineer the project.
Various design studies were considered and a stainless steel skin was finalised for durability and gullwing doors were to be the car’s most striking feature. The stainless steel panels were not however, the entire body structure but hung onto a fibreglass base unit.
A variety of power plants were considered, including a Wankel rotary engine, Ford iron block V6 and a Citroën 4-cylinder motor as fitted to the CX. After deciding the Citroën motor was the one and a supply deal struck, the story goes that once the weight of the gullwing doors and their necessarily substantial supports were recalculated, the Citroën motor would not be sufficiently powerful to give adequate performance. DeLorean engineers concluded that the engine would have to be turbocharged. Citroën objected and pulled out of the deal. DeLorean was now without a suitable engine and a new search began. Research showed that the Douvrin-built PRV V6 engine, a joint collaboration between Peugeot/Renault/Volvo (hence PRV) would be ideal and a new engine deal was signed.
At this point, enter Lotus to assist in almost completely re-engineering the car. To evaluate the proposed PRV V6 and work out weights, performance etc. the purchase of an existing car with the PRV rear-mounted was necessary. Enter the Alpine-Renault A310 V6. Here was the only car built at that time with the appropriate configuration. So DeLorean bought six A310’s via an order to Renault headquarters in Paris, then to Alpine in Dieppe.
These six A310’s were assessed, modified, researched, investigated and were instrumental in allowing working, driving ‘mules’  of the DeLorean concept to be driven long before any actual DeLorean had been built.
Most people know the rest of the DeLorean story and besides, once the A310 had enabled theories and practical engine, suspension and other systems design to be worked out, the A310’s were no longer of any design value.
Of course, once the end had come for DeLorean before the first cars were delivered. It cost more than many US muscle cars so the vital US market was limited from the start. The end came swiftly and the last car built at the Dunmurry factory was in late 1982.
The car you see on the right is my 1979 A310 V6—one of the six ex-DeLorean development cars. I have a reasonably extensive history for the car, most of it after 1981 when it was sold off and brought to the UK. Confirmation of the original Paris/Dieppe order from DeLorean and confirmation from the NIDVLA in Northern Ireland that the first registered owner was DeLorean Motor Company live in my file.
When supplied new it was silver with red leather interior, but subsequent owners have painted it black, dark blue, then a soft shade of Alpine blue. I bought the car in 1999 and have enjoyed the experience tremendously. Technically, it has a PRV V6 with Bosch fuel injection as fitted to certain Volvo models. Modifications and additions to the engine electrical system have been added at DeLorean to accommodate the fuel injection; it runs the later electronic ignition where all other A310’s of this vintage were still using a twin-contact, twin-coil setup. It has been suggested that the engine is 3 litre. It has been suggested that the crank was made from a steel billet by Lotus. It is more likely that it is 2849cc and more or less Volvo spec. Certainly it is quick, much quicker than my 1982 A310 V6—which is standard.
The car suffered when first brought to Germany as it was stored in a garage that subsequently proved to be very wet. It is now in France - back home and it grows in value due to its DeLorean connection and provenance. So what is the car worth now? It would be interesting to ask a DeLorean fan in the USA!
 
 
 

Text Box: My 1979 ex-DeLorean A310 V6

Text Box: Fuel-injected PRV V6—the same as eventual DeLorean DMC-12?

Text Box: The interior was originally red leather. Here the front seats have been recovered in black leather; the original rear seats have been dyed black.

Text Box: Interior-wise, the car is largely as it left Dieppe.
 
The seats are incredibly comfortable.

Text Box: I still use the A310 for sprints, hillclimbs and track days. It is very quick and regularly shows Porsche 911’s the way home!

Text Box: Here we are in action at Le Vigeant circuit in France where the car now lives. It has gone ‘back home’ for semi-retirement, but just loves to be driven, certainly on superb French ‘D’ roads!

                                   

 

                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                                                                                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Text Box: If you’d like to chat about the car (or any of the website pages) please email me—address on Home Page