But it was a stand with a name Goodwood’s youngest browsers would struggle even to remember to which I kept on returning. The last true Alpine rolled off the line in Dieppe some 22 years ago. This was the A610, a rear-engined, plastic bodied junior supercar powered by a turbocharged V6. It looked great, drove even better and nobody bought it. Why? Wrong badge I guess.
But the cars themselves were superb, in the main at least. Before the A610 came the GTA which was sweet handling and had a choice of a large normally aspirated engine or a smaller but more powerful turbo unit. It was essentially a development of the A310, the only Alpine I didn’t like, though those that know them say they’re great and I must have driven a bad example.
Which brings us to the A110, or, to be precise, the A110s. The new one sitting resplendent on the stand in Geneva I will come to in a minute, but the original is a car of which I have extremely fond memories. I expect my experience with the A110 was the polar opposite of that I had with the A310 because the car I drove was in ultimate 1600S specification with a hot 140bhp engine in the back, it was in fabulous condition and drove perfectly.
Indeed I was somewhat aghast having presumed that, first, there was no way all 6ft 4in of me was even going to fit in such a tiny car let alone do so comfortably and, second, even if I could it would feel slow and old, I discovered a simply sensational device. This was not a toy, a recreation with a novelty value that would shortly and surely soon wear off. It was a proper weapon. The more I drove it, the more I trusted it, the more I realised it was just as much fun to drive a short-wheelbase Porsche 911S, the closest conceptual rival I’d driven. In terms of exceeding expectations, it’s up there with the Ferrari Boxer.