Continuing on today’s green theme and moving up the pecking order a few notches from the E12 duo from the other day, here we have something of a monster. Alpina offered E24 fans a special treat with a turned up turbocharged variant of the 635CSi that was good enough not only to rival BMW’s own M6/M635CSi, but indeed to better it.
The M88 was already a bit of legend before BMW offered derivatives in the /3 and catalyst-equipped S38. With 256-286 horsepower depending on tune, it was about as good as non-exotic normally aspirated motors got in the 1980s. But Alpina had always had a knack for outdoing the cars their creations were based upon, so in went the turbocharger. The result was impressive in any form; the Turbo Coupe/1 was good for 300 horsepower and could match the acceleration of the M cars. But matching wasn’t enough, so Alpina upped the power with the B7S. Now up to 3.4 liters and good for 320 plus horsepower and nearly 400 lb.ft of torque, it was a car which could rip your face off anytime, anywhere. Like all Alpinas, they were lovingly crafted and full of exquisite detail work and limited to only 30 examples:
While pristine, all-original examples of classic and collector cars certainly have a cadre of devotees, there’s a slightly smaller and equally evangelical group of “period correct” piece lovers. From aftermarket wheels, body bits, seats and gauges right through to stickers, even if the car isn’t the most desirable model it can be brought up to snuff with some appropriate modifications. Today’s duo of E12s are good examples. Both start as 528i models; by themselves, certainly not the prettiest or most desirable BMW even within the period of the late 1970s. But both have gone through some modifications which make them desirable, though they take very different paths. Which one would you like?
I really love how these cars sometimes send you down the rabbit hole. What attracted me initially to this E24 was that it was a European-spec car and it had a pretty high asking price at nearly $23,000. Alone that wouldn’t be enough to warrant a post, especially given that from the first photo I glanced at, it doesn’t look spectacular.
But there’s a lot more than meets the eye when considering this car, and it has a lot more to do with the personality behind it than the current condition.
The name Albert Mardikian probably doesn’t mean much to you. Mr. Mardikian is a partner and the Chief Technology Officer behind ReGreen Organics, a company which deals with a lot of shit, for lack of a better term. I’m not being flippant. They’re an organic solid waste management company.
And it is in this capacity that Mr. Mardikian’s philosophy is particularly interesting when considering this car. He proclaims that he has a “passion for bettering our world”, yet his past would seem to have little to do with environmental improvement. That’s because in a past life Mr. Mardikian was also the proprietor of Trend Imports. Ring a bell? If not, perhaps a perusing of the Tom Cruise movie Rain Man would help you out. Mr. Cruise’s character’s subplot – an importer of exotic cars held up by the EPA – is based upon Mr. Mardikian. Because if you were in L.A. in the early 1980s and you wanted a gray market car, Trend Imports was where you went. And just like the main character in the movie, Mardikian got in quite a bit of trouble for the Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Rolls Royce and other models he imported by skirting EPA emissions laws.
Though his troubles with emissions laws dated back to 1981, Mardikian continued to be the turn-to source for ultra-exotics in the early days of importation.…
Such was the depth of BMW’s great designs from the 1980s that often the E32 is overlooked. Unlike the E23 it replaced, the scaled-up Claus Luthe-inspired design really worked and the heavy-weight look of the 5-series in a fat suit was met with more aggression, yet still elegantly. As you’d expect from a car intended to challenge the W126, BMW threw the kitchen sink at the 7-series, upping not only the technology, luxury and interior materials utilized in the E32, but the engine offerings, as well – the M70 and later M73 V12s beat Mercedes-Benz to the market with silky smooth and powerful twelve cylinder motors that were the trump card with the Trump types.
Yet while popular and well built, finding good examples of especially early 7s has become quite difficult. Today we have two interesting examples to consider. Both are far from original, though each in their own way is compelling. For those who like subtle speed, there’s a M70-powered, low mileage 750iL Alpina B12 5.0 clone from Japan. If you’re a little more in-your-face and like to row your own, there’s a Racing Dynamics-inspired 735i 5-speed. Which would you choose?
“If you’re looking at this ad, you know what it is. Yes, this is the real deal.”
It was a simple, straightforward solution – but its effect was profound. By adding a KKK K27 turbocharger to BMW’s M30 inline-6, Alpina made quite a splash and firmly cemented its name in the hallowed halls of the ‘World’s Best Tuners’. The result of that marriage coupled with adjustable boost, an intercooler and special injection was 300 horsepower and 340 lb.ft of torque – in 1978! Even the much lauded and celebrated Porsche 911 Turbo Carrera had less power from more displacement; the 3.3 turbo flat-6 produced 265 horsepower and 291 lb.ft of torque. If the Porsche 911 Turbo was a supercar killer, the B7 Turbo was a 4-door 911 assassin. The Alpina was the real deal, and ever since then they’ve been at the sharp end of the world’s fastest sedans.
Beyond just looks, the Buchloe firm of course added signature deep chin and pronounced trunk spoilers. Large (for the period) 16″ alloy wheels wore 225 section tires in the rear to help transfer that power, while specially specified Bilstein shocks were mated with stiffened and lowered Alpina-spec springs and sway bars. Inside, Sheel seats were outfit with Alpina’s beautiful striping, while extra gauge pods read out critical engine performance measures.
A total of 149 of these sedans were produced, each in a slightly different and unique specification with numbered dash plaques. This example, #209, was specified in Sapphire Blue Metallic with Alpina’s bespoke cloth:
For me, the perfect counterpoint to the questionably presented C2 from a few days ago is today’s B7 Turbo. Just about everything in the B7 was taken up a few notches over a standard E28 (or even an M5), and this example exemplifies that perfectly in comparison to that E30.
The B7 Turbo models were, quite simply, some of the fastest BMWs made to that point. More to the point, they were some of the fastest cars in the world in the 1980s; Alpina claimed the E12 B7 Turbo was the fastest sedan in the world, for example. The B7S had bumped up to the 3.5 liter M30. Strapping their special injection system along with a KKK turbocharger and a host of internal modifications, the B7S produced 911 Turbo levels of power which made it (unsurprisingly) 911 Turbo fast. The model continued after the changeover to E28 model, but with some differences. Instead of the bespoke injection on the early model, Alpina instead reprogrammed the Motronic in the E28 to work with the turbocharged M30. The B7 was available in both catalyst (/3) and non-catalyst (/1), both producing 300 or more horsepower. Alpina claims they ultimately made 236 of these beasts by the end of production, but the catalyst version – a large chuck of which ended up in Japan – was the more rare of the two. Today, one of these mega sedans is available, and while a high percentage of the Japanese-destined B7s ended up with automatics, this one has a manual:
Edit 4/8/17 : One of our European readers found the link for this car on the Alpina Archives which backs up that it was an original distributor build in the U.K.. They also identified the body kit as the M-Tech 1 kit, which is not shown on the VIN check so was probably installed during the build. Still, few details of what Alpina bits are present in this build are shown by the seller, and it would be helpful if they could disclose the engine and suspension specifications.
A European-specification BMW E30. Low miles. Alpina details. On the surface, this is an immediate recipe for a budget-breaking model. But as I’ve discussed in previous Alpina posts, sometimes the details of the examples can lead to questions of authenticity. These questions have a massive effect on the value of the car, as do the particular configurations they’re presented in.
So, here we have what is presented as a 1986 Alpina C2 2.7. The 2.7 was released in 1986 as a replacement for the C1 2.5. Power was up to 210 to keep up with the newly introduced M3, and with only 159 produced, the C2 2.7 is quite a desirable package that is rarely seen. But is this car all that it seems to be?
Alpina mania continues unabated on these pages. And why not? Rather than hastily assembled montages of aftermarket accessories or tasteless timepieces of a bygone era, Alpinas were artfully crafted bits of perfection. They were intended to be, and often were, as good as a BMW could get. The market has recognized this in their value, which when correctly presented far outstrips that of a normal – or even special – model from Munich. But that’s led to a variety of half-baked, poorly presented or just plain questionable examples that pop up on a regular basis. Is today’s ultra-rare C1 2.3/1 a case of the former, or the latter?
Alpina values might be as hard to follow as those in the 911 world. As with all proper marque-specific tuners in the German world, there’s a fair amount of attention being levied upon the Buchloe firm, and some models are demanding outrageous premiums; for example, recently one of the ultra-rare B6 3.5S models sold for a simply staggering 200,000 Euros.
Does it follow, then, that all E30 Alpinas are outrageous money? Some asking prices would seem to equate that, but the asking prices have often failed to be recognized. Take, for example, the 1984 C1 2.3/1 current for sale on eBay. I looked at this car the best part of a year ago when the asking price was an eye-watering $99,000. I suggested that if you were willing to pay that amount for that example, men in white coats may be locking you up. It seems that most agreed with me, as the car has moved to a new dealer and is still languishing, now with a
more reasonable still insane $67,500 asking price.
So, when a more potent version of the Alpina C series pops up with an actually realistic price, we should take note. But should we click the Buy It Now immediately?
BMW’s revolution and rebranding through racing started on March 25, 1973. At the Monza 4 hours race in the European Touring Car Championship, the “CSL” legend was born. Massive box flares, huge BBS magnesium race wheels and deep front spoilers adorned the delicate E9 coupe now, and the iconic German Racing White with blue and red stripes following the lines of the hood and sides of the car. And with drivers like Hans-Joachim Stuck, Chris Amon, and Dieter Quester BMW Motorsport would go on to win many races and establish the brand that would later launch the infamous “Batmobile” CSL, the 2002 Turbo, and of course the M brand. Prior to 1973, the top flight races were run by BMW through their partners Alpina and Schnitzer, and indeed the BMW Motorsport entrants at Monza failed to finish, with Niki Lauda at the hands of an Alpina E9. A few races later, the rear wing was introduced by BMW Motorsport, and in the hands of Dieter Quester the first BMW Motorsport win was recognized at the 24 Hours of Spa on July 22, 1973.
The 3.0 and later 3.5 CSLs would continue to race and win for a few years, establishing the brand as a serious contender to the established Porsche in the sporting market. Because of this, there were not only many in-period conversions to CSL race cars, but many replicas built since. This appears to be one of the latter – originally, a 2800CS which has been converted to look like the Group 2 racers with a period motor: