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Spring is here – is the Alpine?

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.

All winter I have dreamt of driving the Alpine this season – and here it was idling and ready to go.

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.

This is just such a great place to be, and I look immensely forward to the real driving later.

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…

I did the driving for the test on temporary paper plates which are best avoided on photos. It passed, but is now back in the glass boxes while I wait for the huge tax bill, which once paid will allow me to actually apply for Danish number plates.

9 Responses

  1. Jack

    Remember, there is some companies that can solve the tax issue in days, not months like the goverment. They can even help you retract the appliance from the goverment, as I racall :) faster driving and better evaluation is my experience!

  2. Dave Leadbetter

    Wow, every time I think I pay too much tax I just remind myself what would happen in Denmark! The car is looking spectacular though.

  3. Claus Ebberfeld

    @jack , to the best of my knowledge that service doesn’t work with classic cars, as their tax is determined on the basis of their price as new. But I’ll check tomorrow!

    Thanks, @tony-wawryk and @dave-leadbetter – I’m pretty chuffed myself :-)

  4. Anders Bilidt

    Ouuuuu… that Danish import tax – that’s one very sound reason as to why I don’t reside in Denmark anymore…

    Regardless though, your A310 looks utterly stunning Claus! And congrats on blasting through the inspection.
    No doubt your Alpine will be admired at Le Mans Classic later this year. I’m sure it’ll be a fab trip. On the way home again, how about a little detour via the UK. We could take your A310 for a spin through the Peak District, visit my new Rochdale project and discuss whether it’ll ever look as neat as your Alpine, and then finish off the day with a bit of Islay Single Malt… ;-)

  5. Claus Ebberfeld

    @anders-bilidt , by 2020 your Rochdale will look the same. Well, not the same, but you know what I mean :-)

    And the Le Mans-trip will be one of many detours, both trough Germany and in France. Hopefully including a visit at the Dieppe factory, although it is very difficult to get any answers on this. French, I suppose!

    So I half way plan on taking another car to England for a visit. Only problem is, that I don’t own the car yet. Let’s see how that turns out.

    But I promise I’ll visit England before you finish the Rochdale!

  6. YrHmblHst

    Ya know…you forgot the one downside to your Alpine; thats what led me to this site! So now yall hafta put up with an impudent American occasionally. ;) [I bought a GTA Turbo and was websurfing for Alpine info when I found you…]

    Lovely car; always thought i wanted a 310; have only seen one in the flesh actually. Yours sure looks nice. But that tax deal is ludicrous – can you not register it in another country close by or something? theres GOTTA be a way around such silliness…

  7. Anders Bilidt

    Well, if it was indeed Claus’s A310 which brought you to ViaRETRO in the first place, then you’ve just given me yet another reason to love his Alpine. ;-)
    Always appreciate your comments here…

  8. Claus Ebberfeld

    @yrhmblhst , I’ve know of fellow car enthusiasts going in exile in Germany and Sweden in order to avoid the Danish taxes: You are as a Danish citizen (under most circumstances) not allowed to drive a foreign registered car in Denmark. As some sort of weird state humor you in fact will get a fine of the same hurtful size as the tax itself – plus still have to pay the tax, of course. Yes, I know – it’s not really that funny…

    …yet I am looking into another solution. More on that later.


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