Following up on last week’s Alpina B6 2.8 Touring, I have another post of the boutique manufacturer’s cars. It goes without saying that Alpinas are pretty special cars and quite limited production; however, a few sub-models are notable as being especially rare. Going above and beyond, these cars will really set you apart from the typical crowd – get specific about the configuration, and you can usually count on one hand the number of models that are the same as the one you’re looking at. That’s especially true when you see today’s Alpina twofer – two lesser seen models from a lesser seen manufacturer. Today I have, thanks to a great spot from our reader John, the #2 produced B10 Allrad Touring and the #123 B12 5.7. Which would be your flavor? Let’s start with the Touring first:
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One of the great things about personalizing a car is the variety of ways that it can be carried out. Some people choose to return their car to near original showroom shape while others wildly modify the car with a total lack of regard for originality. The 2002 has traditionally been one of the favorite modification platforms as BMWs go; out of the box, it was blessed with good handling and balance, distinctive looks and it’s a car that’s easy to work on. Most that are in a condition that need or warrant modifications can be had fairly inexpensively, and the myriad of directions you can take means that possible permutations and combinations of parts rarely leave two looking identical. Today is such a case – two fairly similar platforms that take two very different directions – which is your favorite and why?
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1970 BMW 2002 on eBay
While some other aftermarket tuners such as Ruf and Renntech offer turned up versions of the already potent cars, Alpina operates slightly differently – filling in the voids of models not offered by the manufacturer. There are plenty of examples of this, and if often seems to be misunderstood; Jeremy Clarkson’s review of the Alpina Roadster is probably the most notable case. A slower, softer, automatic version of the hardcore roadster certainly doesn’t make a lot of sense at first glance. But what Alpina does is give enthusiasts the opportunity to enjoy the performance that BMW offered in a slightly different package that sometimes outperforms the original platform car – Chris Harris recently found the B3 Biturbo to be nearly “the perfect car“. One of the notable missing gaps in the BMW lineup was a faster version of the E36 Touring; building off the earlier B6 – effectively, Alpina’s 4-door M3 challenger built between 1992 and 1993 with a bespoke engine and typical Alpina upgrades, the company later launched the Japanese-only market B6 2.8 Touring. Produced between 1996 and 1998, only 136 of these small wagons were produced, again utilizing the 240 horsepower bespoke Alpina motor, special wheels and interiors, Alpina’s own body kit, exhaust and suspension. They were available in 3 colors only; red, silver, and green:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 Alpina B6 2.8 Touring on eBay
When BMW upped its game in the E36 chassis with the introduction of the M3, specialty tuner Alpina answered with the B3 3.0 and later 3.2 in step with BMW. The successor of the slightly less powerful B6 model, the B3 kept many of the same improvements to the E36 chassis – unique stabilizers, springs and shocks, and larger brakes. Inside the B3 received the normal Alpina-style shift knob, steering wheel and seats, and in their typical style Alpina provided unique front and rear spoilers along with their own badging. Of course, the package was rounded out by some of the best looking wheels ever fitted to a BMW. While the B3 was down on power to the European M3 3.2, it wasn’t really much slower – again in typical Alpina fashion, the car was tuned to make the most of the power that was available rather than just provide a shockingly high output number. A reported 1,000 of these ultra-exclusive B3s were produced, with about 2/3rds of those being the earlier 3.0 model. With only 342 of the 3.2 produced, the pool is already very exclusive on these. Add a manual transmission when most are automatic, special order Dakar Yellow paint and a cabriolet model, and this is among the most exclusive Alpinas ever made.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 Alpina B3 3.2 Cabriolet on eBay
To me it’s always a bit interesting to talk about people’s motivations in getting a particular car, especially so when that car is a classic. For example, consider my Audi GT versus a Quattro. These days, if you can find one a mint condition Audi GT will set you back around $6,000 – $8,000 for the very best examples we’ve seen. However, that amount may get you a wreck of a Quattro, but likely not a particularly drivable example. In terms of driving experience, the GT is out of the box 90% of the Ur-Quattro experience for 90% plus of the time. Brought to a show, many non-Audi folks could probably not tell them apart. Yet, in terms of value gap, the iconic Quattro far outstrips the classic GT. We see it in other areas, too – for example a 73 911S versus a 77 911S, a E28 535is versus a M5, or even a 325is versus an M3. If you’re smart with your money, choosing the lesser example may not get you the headlines, but stretching your budget to get into a less serviceable iconic car is not likely to bring you more happiness, only more headaches. Take the two 2002s we have here; a freshly rebuilt, ready to roll 2002Tii and a somewhat tired, restoration ready 2002 Turbo: