Seventies Beauty

When looking at something beautiful, you always have to take note of the time in which the thing appeared.  This is particularly true of women, of course, because what was considered beautiful in, say, the 1970s would cause snorts of derision when applied to today’s standards.  Here’s a sample of those 70s fashions:

None of which are particularly bad (the lass on the right is sensational), but the style is very dated.

I didn’t come here to talk about women’s fashion.

Nope;  I want to talk about the successor to the wonderful Renault Alpine A110, the A310 which made its first appearance in 1971.

Of course, in typical French tradition, they put a severely underpowered engine in the A310 (a 1600cc four-banger which developed a muscular 105hp) which, considering that Renault intended the A310 to be a competitor to the Porsche 911 (which at the time was developing about 270hp in its 2.4L flat six), must have been a joke played by Engineering on Marketing.

In 1976, Renault got the message (prodded by piss-poor sales, duh) and put in a 2.7L  V6 engine which developed 148hp:  still nowhere close to the 911, but with its ultralight body and excellent handling (which was a little better than the 911’s), the new model doubled sales of the A310 — but sadly, doubling nearly nothing meant that Renault was selling about 500 units a year compared to the 911’s 1,600.

Pretty much only the French bought the A310 in any numbers, and in 1986 Renault pulled it off the market.

All that said, I quite like the looks of the later A310 PRV (denoting the larger engine).  Once again, by today’s standards that angular shape might be considered ugly, but frankly, it’s not horrible compared to other cars of the time.

Even in the PRV specs, though, the petite A310 never stood a chance against the Porsche 911, and still less against the massive American muscle cars, never mind the Ferraris and Maseratis.

But for a nimble sporty little runabout which according to its customers was very reliable, you could have done a whole lot worse than the A310.


  1. “you could have done a whole lot worse than the A310”

    Indeed, you could have gotten a DeLorean, which had the same PRV engine in a much heavier vehicle.

  2. French and reliable are words rarely seen together. Renaults, Peugeots, Simcas, Citroens etc all suffered from tiny engines that needed frequent – – – – – – ahh, attention. Big comfortable seats, electrics which were better than Lucas, (cat shit smells better than dog shit). Overall, they were a headache for the mechanic stuck with maintaining them. Somewhat similar to Italian cars, but at least Italians knew how to design beautiful cars.

  3. Doesn’t matter how much horse power they put in it. It’s still a French car – long on the French idea of style. Short on everything else. For example , when Matra entered F1 they created a gorgeous V-12 – that suffered from ” sudden disassembly ” . OK … somehow they did manage to win Lemans….. once.

    1. Actually, the Matra-Simcas of that era were astonishing cars — as sports cars. Also, the Bagheera featured three front seats (man, wife and mistress — how’s THAT for French style?).

      The 310 was an anomaly among French cars precisely because of its reliability. As were the Peugeot 404 and 504.

  4. Having a client in the mid-80’s with an R5Turbo always meant a pleasant test drive every few months to diagnose and/or repair some glitch that had cropped up.
    An incredible car from both the styling and engineering standpoints.

  5. re — ‘gal on the left’
    1975 or so, my 6’1″ youngest sister married puffy-chest have-to-constantly-prove-I-am-just-as-good 5’5″ Herman A. in a fancy church to-do.
    Herman wore similar trousers and platforms to that cutey-pie Miss ‘Sensational’.
    Tragically, one of Herman’s hems was caught in the heel of his slip-ons — 6″ of heel giving the impression of a peg-leg — and nobody said anything to the poor dip-shot.
    (The marriage lasted about four months before reality set in… Herman A. is a nincompoop.)
    Fortunately, one member of the family possesses photographic evidence of Herman’s lop-side stance in front of the preacher.
    And brings it along to re-unions.

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