Renault is currently developing a heir to the Alpine A110 that dominated international rally events in the 1960s and the 1970s. The project is taking a little longer than expected due to a number of setbacks including the dissolution of its highly-publicized joint-venture with England’s Caterham and early designs that were, by the company’s own admission, unsatisfactory.
A small Italian company named Maggiora has beaten the Paris-based automaker to the punch and introduced the first Alpine of the 21st century at this year’s edition of the Bologna Motor Show. The company can’t use the Alpine name for obvious reasons and Maggiora doesn’t have a historical resonance so executives chose to resurrect the name Willys.
Best known for building Jeeps in the United States, Willys-Overland’s Brazilian arm assembled precisely 822 examples of the Alpine A108 from 1962 to 1966. The coupe was christened Interlagos but it was more or less visually identical to its French-built sibling. Maggiora presumably bought the rights to the company, which explains why it can get away with introducing a retro-styled Alpine without input or permission from Renault.
The first Willys-badged car in over 50 years is called AW 380 Berlineta – we also thought “there’s a “t” missing at the end” but that’s how the company spells it in all official documents. Stretching 174 inches (443 centimeters) long, 76 inches (194 centimeters) wide and 48 inches (122 centimeters) tall, the AW 380 Berlineta clearly pays homage to the A108 (and, to a lesser extent, the A110) with styling cues such as elongated headlights, two round driving lamps that stick out from the tip of the front fascia, a thin strip of chrome that runs from the windshield to the bumper and two imitation hinges near the bottom of the hood.
Air vents behind both doors and above the tail lamps further create a visual connection with 1960s Alpines, and even the wheels are inspired by the steelies / metal hubcaps combination found on certain A108s. Interior pictures are not available, so whether or not the retro treatment extends to the cockpit is up in the air.
Power comes from a 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged flat-six engine that makes 610 horsepower at 6,750 rpms and 612 lb-ft. of torque at 4,500 rpms. Most likely sourced from the Porsche parts bin, the flat-six sends the 2,976-pound (1,350-kilo) AW 380 from zero to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 2.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 211 mph (340 km/h). The engine is bolted to a six-speed automatic transmission controlled by shift paddles mounted behind the steering wheel. We’re fairly certain the automatic is a dual-clutch unit but the press release was short on details.
The AW 380 Berlineta costs €380,000 before taxes are factored in, a sum that converts to about $467,000 / £300,000. Turin-based Carrozzeria Viotti has been selected to build 110 examples of the coupe, with production scheduled to start next month. The first example has already been sold to a Russian firm called Rumos.