Last summer I acquired a lovely Alpine Renault A310 with the clear intention of driving it a lot this year: So how did the plan fare so far?
Not that well, really – as I was once again taken by surprise by this sudden arrival of spring. Here in Denmark that happened very abruptly about 10 days ago – without any notice whatsoever. Prior to that, as far as I recall, there was a whole winter and a very half-hearted “should-be-spring-now” period where I did not dare take the car out. And then last weekend – wham, spring! I’ve been driving the Rover, but then last Friday it had be: My lovely Alpine A310 had to be tested (equivalent of MOT in Britain and TÜV in Germany) and luckily all went well – even on that fateful Friday the 13th. I even had quite a good drive on the journey there and back.
The car had been stood in the fabulous glass boxes of Gentleman’s Garage since August last year, and now, seven to eight months later, it was time to turn the key. I had not used a battery charger on my car over winter, as I thought it had no clock and hence no power consumption. After placing myself in the lovely seat, of course I discovered that it actually had a clock – and that it was still ticking away merrily. Fortunately, there was also power enough to start the car – only on the third attempt, but that may also just be down to me forgetting the start procedure for the chokeless carburetted engine.
Once started, it idled just fine at its characteristic stumbling low idle speed, but when accelerating it did hesitate and hiccup a bit. The tires had also become somewhat flat-spotted, which caused the car to vibrate and shake at speed. On the other hand, it braked perfectly even and everything electrical worked as it should. So without further ado, I drove it the 30 kilometers to the test centre close to my new workplace – and it flew straight through. The inspector found there was not a lot of space in the footwell for his safety shoes, but he liked the rest of the car – including its condition. Naturally, I could only agree. He did not say anything about the flatspotted tires, and it was actually a bit better on the returntrip. But it was still not good, so I am probably going to have to see to that later. Everything else worked just fine, and with more milage the engine managed to clear its throat and was back on song.
I was overwhelmed with joy and expectation. And that – expectation – is still what what I’m feeling now. I had made the grave mistake of not applying over winter for a pre-determination of the Danish import tax for the car. So now I have to wait an undisclosed amount of time for the tax office decision. Because of the perverse Danish laws concerning car importation tax, this is not an insignificant amount: I’ll have to pay around 46,000 kroner (equivalent to 6,100 Euro) just to be allowed to register the Alpine for Danish road use. And that’s excluding the number plates themselves which add 160 Euro to the bill.
I suppose I should not be impatient for a bill like that, but I am: Those 60 kilometers in lovely spring weather confirmed that the Alpine is indeed as great a car as I recall from last Summer when I drove it home.
This summer should be even better: The Big Trip this year is virtually designed around the Alpine, as we’re going to Le Mans Classic, where they’re celebrating the 40 years since the victory of the Alpine Renault Turbo. There’s just no way I could possibly arrive in a more appropriate and stylish classic…