South America has been in the news quite a bit recently, if you haven’t been paying attention. But when you think about South America today, you’re probably thinking of the upcoming Olympics, perhaps the Zika virus, or if you’re well versed maybe the crumbling country of oil-rich Venezuela. Maybe you watched the Top Gear specials and you saw Argentina, Bolivia or Chile appear on your screen for the first time. One country you probably don’t consider is Paraguay. Paraguay sits alongside more famous Bolivia as one of the two land-locked countries in South America. It’s also one of the countries which attracts the least tourism in the West, a legacy of a government that adopted isolationist policies following its independence from Spain in 1811. It’s relatively tiny, too – with a large percentage of the 6 million inhabitants focused in a small area around the capital of Asunción. The top two exports Paraguay is known for are soybeans and frozen meat, and most of those go to neighboring giants Brazil and Chile, along with some to Europe. In short, it’s a religious, agrarian, isolationist country with no ports. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some with money. And those with money have bought cars in the style of the West. In fact, it might just be the best place to buy…an E30 M3 Convertible?
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By the late 1990s, it was becoming increasingly difficult for tuners to compete with the stock offerings. Tightening emissions and safety regulations made getting turned up models harder to sneak past inspection, while simultaneously manufacturers were producing hotter models. The 540i is a great example, and you don’t need to look much further than the conundrum of the E34 M5 versus the various 540i Sport and especially M-Sport models. While the aluminum V8 may not have had the horsepower of the M5 model but only just, it had more usable torque and was (theoretically, at least) cheaper to run. It was so good, in fact, that supposedly when it came to the E39 model BMW was unsure if a M5 would be necessary in our market. So, it would seem to be the natural and easy choice to modify, right? Well, not so fast – because signature tuner Alpina had a problem. Its tried and true method of increasing displacement wouldn’t work on the M62 because you couldn’t bore out the special Nic/Alusil coated blocks. Game over, right? No. If you’re Alpina, you call up BMW and get them to make you a bigger motor:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 Alpina B10 V8 on Vancouver Craigslist
The other day I read an article on Petrolicious entitled “Which classic car gets on your nerves?” The photo was of an E30 M3, and it wasn’t far into the article that it became clear that this was a decidedly anti-E30 stance. In many ways, I agree with the author – having a conversation with an E30 enthusiast and trying to convince them that there are other cars (even within the marque) that are much better values or offer more performance per a dollar is akin to attempting to blame mass shootings on assault rifles in the middle of an NRA meeting. Now, to be fair, there are quite a few very reasonable E30 enthusiasts out there and just like it’s not fair to generalize about any group, they’re not all the same and most haven’t been recent bandwagon jumpers. But the rocketing to fame of the E30 and the ascending prices of the lineup have become somewhat laughable; take Paul’s mint, low mileage 318is for $30,000 the other day. Is it a lovely car? Sure, and if I’m honest I agree with Paul that it’s one of the neatest options in the E30 lineup to me – but is it worth the same as a brand new, replete with warranty 228i coupe in your choice of colors? That’s where the wheels start to fall off the bandwagon, because while I can rationalize a lot of automotive things that are pretty ridiculous I find that one hard to stomach. But, if the market has spoken and a 318is is “worth” $30,000, surely a super limited production Alpina C1 2.3/1 is more highly valued?
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Alpina C1 2.3/1 on eBay
From an extremely rare set of custom Corrados this morning, our journey on this Tuner Tuesday ends with a lovely Alpina RLE. Compared to the Magnums, the Roadster Limited Edition is positively plentiful with 66 official examples produced. However, compare that number to the 555 V8 Roadsters the company later produced, and the exclusivity of the RLE starts to come into clearer focus. As Alpinas go, the transformation of the Z1 was not as radical as some. Light revisions to the suspension were met with an uncharacteristically small but notable increase in displacement, giving the RLE some more sport to match its looks. But looks were what it was all about, as even in 1991 a 7.1 second 0-60 run wasn’t much of a headline. Those looks were blockbuster, though – the 17″ wheels filling out the diminutive wedge design perfectly and matched well by the classic Alpina stripes. Special interior details also dressed up the plastic-heavy Z1, and the result was impressive even if the performance wasn’t. So special and limited were these roadsters, Alpina even took the time to individually number the crests on the centercaps of the wheels!