While I’ve recently covered quite a string of impressive Alpina models, the reality is that all of them leave me a bit wanting. It’s not that they aren’t lovely, or full of incredible and beautiful detail. It’s not that they’re in bad condition, misused or abused. It’s not salvage titles, accident history or even poorly presented advertisement. No, for me, it’s what you get for your money. I understand the nature of exclusivity and certainly the Alpinas offer that. They, for the most part, also back up that exclusivity with well-engineered increased performance, so while the appearance package helps to set them apart, few Alpinas are posers. But when the asking prices for aftermarket E30s are $50,000, $60,000 – even $90,000 dollars, for you not to question the sanity of the market would be seriously worrysome. That’s especially true since you can get Alpina’s arguably most impressive product from the same period for less:
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For my first BMW post, I wanted to go with something a little more unique than a run-of-the-mill M3 or M5. I can’t imagine that many people are aware that BMW offers their M6 Gran Coupe with an option for a manual transmission. This makes it one of very few high-end, performance oriented luxury sedans still available with a third pedal. There is no such option available on the Porsche Panamera or the Audi RS7, and certainly not on the Mercedes CLS63 AMG. So I decided to go with a very striking Sakhir Orange Metallic M6 Gran Coupe with a 6-speed manual transmission.
Searching through various BMW forums, I couldn’t find anything on a manual M6 Gran Coupe. However, I did come across a thread on m5post where a consumer was recently contemplating whether to order their new M5 with a DCT or a manual (6MT), and asking for guidance on what to order. Surprisingly for a car enthusiast forum, the vast majority of votes went for DCT. Commenters said that the F10 M5 was not designed for a manual, and that the DCT was much better suited to the car. In the end, the original poster decided to go with the DCT. Bummer, but I guess that makes the manual that much rarer. Anyhow, given the unpopularity of the 6MT on the current M5, I can only imagine that it’s even less common on the M6 Gran Coupe.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2014 BMW M6 Gran Coupe on Car Gurus
In the UK, where I grew up, the E46 3-series was available with a Sport package from 2001 onwards. This added M-Tech suspension, an M-Tech II bodykit, sport seats, steering wheel and “M V-Spoke” Style 72 alloys (later replaced by style 135s). The revised bumpers and spoilers definitely lent the car a more aggressive, sporting edge and considerably enhanced the overall look of the car. The package, officially renamed from “Sport” to “M Sport” in 2005, proved immensely popular throughout the E46 production run. As a result, the UK used market is filled with relatively cheap examples. Not so in the US. When I moved here, I soon discovered that the American E46 did not receive the same package until 2003, and only then on the 330i/330ci models. Known here as the ZHP or “Performance Package,” this added all of the aforementioned upgrades plus redesigned camshafts and a remapped engine computer, supposedly bringing power to 235 hp (10 hp more than standard models). Ticking this option box added nearly $4,000 to the cost of the car, making ZHP-equipped models relatively uncommon. As a result, when used examples do crop up they seem to command a considerable price premium.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 BMW 330i ZHP on eBay
Yesterday Paul wrote up a 530i Sport noting that for many, the styling of the E39 5-series is vastly preferable to the E60 that came afterward, burdened as it is with awkward creases and controversial styling courtesy of BMW design guru Chris Bangle. I tend to agree, although I also think the E60, especially in sport specification, will probably become better appreciated as it ages. While yesterday’s 530i with an autobox represents, as Paul put it, the “bread and butter” of the range, this particular car is a bit more special. The standard 540i, powered by a torquey 4.4 liter V8 making nearly 300 hp, is already a very capable sport sedan in its own right. The M-sport package however, which adds M-sport exterior styling, suspension and wheels, brings the car within firing range of the M5.