Euro cars always hold a special appreciation for me, especially from the 1970s and 1980s. First off, they were much better looking, generally with slimmer bumpers and larger, more clear class lights. There were colors and interiors that we didn’t get in the U.S. as well, helping to set yourself apart. Sometimes there were low-spec engines not imported, but usually the output of the motors that were similar to U.S. cars was higher, giving more performance to enthusiasts. Sometimes that gulf was huge; while usually around 10% higher, a great example is the Quattro which was a full 25% more powerful in Europe than the U.S. restricted version. But as we got towards the late ’80s, the gap inbetween both the looks and performance of the Euro models versus the U.S. models closed steadily. True, in some cases we still didn’t get the full-fat versions of cars like the M3 until the E46 chassis. But for most models, there was a negligible difference. When it came to the BMW E31, in fact, there were almost no differences between the U.S. models and European models; styling was exactly the same, as were the wheels, most of the colors and interiors, and the basic suspension and engine. So, it’s just not nearly as exciting to see a European-spec newer model like this ’91 850i pop up for sale, though it is a bit odd:
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Provenance is something very important to many consumer goods; slap a brand name on any good and it increases the value of an otherwise ordinary product exponentially even if it’s the same formula as the budget no-name product. People are attracted to names that they recognize, and of course therefore more likely to buy those products even if they are more expensive. And in the BMW world, if 1980s BMWs were increasing in value that takes a backseat to the microscope on Alpina models. Yet, as with many tuners of the 1980s, not only is it possible to buy replica parts today, but even in period you could buy all of the pieces and slap them on just about any car. In those cases, though outwardly they look identical at times to the “real” cars that were assembled at the factories, they don’t tend to hold the same value. That’s why today’s European-spec 1982 320i is an interesting case – is it an Alpina?
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1982 BMW 320i Alpina on eBay
The 1989 E32 Alpina B11 3.5/1 from January is back! After failing to sell in a reserve auction, the seller has moved to a no reserve format and with about two days to go, this rare 7 has crested $10,000. Last time around I guessed that the car would struggle to break past $12,000 – around where I thought the reserve was set. Where do you think it will end up?
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Alpina B11 3.5/1 on eBay
The below post originally appeared on our site January 27, 2015:
These days, I think you could slap an E30 badge on just about anything and the cult of the small sedan would perk up and pay attention. If the E30 was the natural choice for a sporting executive in the 1980s, it’s become the defacto way to instant street credentials in the European scene. “Sure bro, you might have a 2JZ-GTE Supra, but I got an E30 dawg!” you might overhear being conversed with a heavy beat from Ludacris pumping in the background and scantily clad women draping themselves over your Claus Luthe designed hood, for example. Is that not what happens? Well, the appeal of the E30 is such that you could easily believe that might be the outcome of turning the key in one. As an Audi fan from the same period, I have to admit a certain amount of jealousy; not so much in the design, but in the plethora of choices of what’s available in the market and the amount of manufacturer and aftermarket support. It’s something you just don’t really see in the Audi camp, for example. That means that you can have some mild to wild examples of E30s to choose from each and every day of the week. They’ve also hit importation status on some later models, so the flood gates have quite literally opened and a steady stream of Euro market cars is popping up for sale, trying hard to capitalize on the car made popular by the success of capitalism. As such, today for Tuner Tuesday I have two E30s to consider; a wild Alpina B6 3.5 from 1986, and a 1990 325i right hooker with a host of Hartge upgrades. Who wins the tune-off?