The driving position is comfortable where it has no right to be, with both wheel and pedals offset, the latter shunted towards the centre of the car to make room for the wheelarch.
Alpines were built under licence all over the world, with Dinalpins produced in Mexico, Bulgaralpines in Eastern Europe and FASA putting cars together in Spain.
This example is one of the latter, and left the factory with a standard 76bhp 1300 engine, but, as with most A110s, has since been modified.
Early 911s had six Solex carbs, while the A110’s modified engine bay has a Porsche 944 radiator paired with motorcycle electric fans
The most notable – and most exciting – change is the engine, which has been replaced by a 1397cc crossflow unit built by renowned fettler Salv Sacco.
Fed by twin 40DCOE Webers, it promises over 100bhp at the screaming end of the rev range, along with a more aggressive throttle response.
With the master switch on, the little Alpine starts readily, filling the glassfibre shell with a busy engine note before settling to a remarkably relaxed idle – but the hair-trigger accelerator is too tempting not to blip like a teenager waiting at the lights.
Pull away and its slight 695kg weight is immediately apparent, with blistering acceleration that straight away puts it in a class above the torquey but 385kg heavier 911.
Throttle response is instant and the four-speed ’box slick, but no real match for the hot engine that just wants to keep going and going – Simpson’s next modification is a five-speeder that’s currently winging its way from Scotland, and should transform the car.
Even at the same speed the Alpine feels the quicker of the two, partly due to its size and low ride height, but also the theatre that accompanies each blast up the rev range.
It has swing-axle rear suspension, but the Alpine’s roadholding is fantastic
It’s an addictive experience only enhanced by the A110’s roadholding, which is nothing short of remarkable for a car with a comparatively archaic swing-axle arrangement at the rear.
It, too, carries its timber over the back wheels, but the lower centre of gravity and wide track help tame the tail, which offers bags of confidence-inspiring feedback.
Feeding the tiny sports car along the country lanes of Newport Pagnell, it’s easy to see how Alpine toppled the mighty 911 from its rallying perch, becoming the go-to loose-surface and Tarmac weapon before the arrival of the all-conquering Lancia Stratos.
The A110 and 911 – the same, but different