Most things change gradually with time and cars are no exception. The popular Renault 8 was stretched by 215 mm to become the 10. With similar styling and the same wheelbase, this longer look was not embraced by all.
Renault 10 1300 Super
Model: Renault 10 1300 Super
0 to 100 km/h: 21,5 seconds
Top speed: 134 km/h
Fuel index: 11,80 L/100 km
Price: R1 875
CAR test: August 1970 (plus three others)
As was the trend, the Renault 10 first sported round headlamps in 1966 but this was swapped to rectangular items in 1968. This trend was repeated in many marques but largely resulted in a less attractive appearance and many went back to simpler round lighting over time, often morphing the stretched lights into twin circular units. Another change was the (now universal) switch to radial-ply tyres.
French seating was known for soft, plush comfort and Renault and Citroën lead the pack. Luxury had an entirely different, minimalist execution back in the day. For the Renault, it meant three positions for the seatbacks, a cigar lighter, twin-tone horn and thick carpet in the 350-litre capacity front boot … oh, and a simulated walnut instrument surround. The Alconi (tested by CAR in August 1967) sported contrasting colour flashes down each side. Lowered suspension, better induction
plus a high-lift camshaft improved performance, and a rev-counter was added to the instrumentation. Rear side windows were sliding rather than wind-down.
South African engines used a higher spec than the Europeans, with a twin-choke Weber carburettor replacing the single-choke Solex but the compression ratio was unchanged at 8,5 to 1. Transmission was four-speed with rear engine/rear-wheel drive retained. This was only ditched with the succeeding Renault 12 and 16. The four-speed gearbox needed a long linkage to the rear, resulting in a less than slick shift action. In 1970, a 1,3-litre model was added. This upped the power output from 43 kW to 45 kW while the Alconi had 51 kW.
SUSPENSION AND STEERING
Coils front and rear were used with wishbone connections up front and swing axles at the rear. Steering used rack and pinion. Braking was well covered with discs right round, something few cars of the time sported. This made sense as the rear-engine layout meant less mass transfer to the front under braking.
WHICH ONE TO GET
Sales started slow owing to the popularity of the smaller Renault 8 with sales of the Renault 10 peaking at 1 200 a year in 1968, falling to 1 000 the following year before tapering off and losing volume to the more modern 12 and 16 models. The Alconi will be a special buy if an original example can be found. The first models with round headlamps are also a good find. Rust is a problem, especially in the sills and wheelarches, so repairs will be ongoing. Watch out for inadequate engine cooling and remember brightwork and trim will be difficult to source.
AVAILABILITY AND PRICES
There are usually a few top-condition examples available and the prices haven’t changed much. Around R50 000 nabs a neat one with other prices being entirely dependent on body and mechanical condition. We spotted a blue 1969 Alconi that had been restored in South Africa, exported to England and sold on auction in 2017 for just under R120 000 at today’s exchange rate.
The collaboration between Renault and Gordini goes back a long way. Gordini’s first racecar had Fiat engines from the French company Simca-Fiat. Simca Gordinis took part in Formula One racing until 1946 after which the firm began to tune cars for Renault. Alconi Developments was a local collaboration between John Conchie and Eric Adler.
What’s in a name, you ask? These days manufacturers scramble to come up with monikers for different models in each range. Such erudite names like Pure, Premium, Amaze, Glide and Fluid have been used. It gets worse: how about Original, High, Lounge, Advanced, Ambition, Attraction or Start? Some of these are sufficient reason to avoid purchase. Back in the ‘60s, the fashionable names were Super, De Luxe or the Ultimate. Super de Luxe was the official title of the Renault 10 in 1966. Added to generic model names were simply SW for station wagons or estate and, of course, the ubiquitous GT, apparently first used on the Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GT in 1929.