Well, GCFSB faithful, “ExoticCarsJapan” has provided us with a bit of a headscratcher today. I’m continually mystified by the seemingly endless amount of original and perfect condition Alpina, Hartge, AMG and Ruf cars that come out of Japan. It’s as if they were all bought and stuck in a storage container, awaiting their certain increase in value. And right now, it doesn’t get much hotter than the E30 market is in terms of number of people interested and number of cars coming to the market. Like some of the rare Alpina models we’ve previously covered, here’s a real-deal Hartge. The strange part, from what I can tell however, is the badge which matches the VIN plate – it reads H26 SP. What’s strange about that is that this car appears to be slightly different than most of the H26s – and I can’t find any actual information on the H26 SP:
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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?
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Alpina B6 3.5 on eBay
Just the other day, Nate wrote up a resto-modded BMW 325ix. There were some nice touches and a considerable amount of work done, but also a few pretty polarizing items – the gold BBS turbofan-look replica wheels, the gold custom decals and the factory BMW sport seats that were recovered with Recaro fabric. As if to answer some of the issues with those items, a rare European-spec 1979 323i with some period modifications turned up for sale:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1979 BMW 323i on eBay
While engine swaps on BMWs seem downright commonplace, there are the normal engine swaps (the well played out S50/52 comes to mind) and then there’s Hartge. The history between the two premier BMW tuning firms in Germany – Alpina and Hartge – is interesting. They’ve vied for the top spot for several decades with slightly different design philosophies. During that time, they’ve also seemingly flip-flopped; originally, Hartge took a more conservative route than Alpina, whose wild turbocharged creations challenged BMW’s own offerings. But after they were granted full manufacturer status in Germany in 1985, Hartge really came into its own and hasn’t looked back since. While like many firms they offer a line of aerodynamic tweats, wheels, exhausts and engine management chips, their party-piece is taking motors from the larger BMWs and popping them into the 3-series models. None of these conversions is more notable than the E90 H50 though. While the E46 H50 took the V8 out of the 5 series, the E90 had a V8 available in the lineup in the M3. Hartge therefore moved up the food chain to the E60 M5’s S85 V10. With a staggering 500 horspower out of the box and even 50 more with Hartge’s tuning, they transformed the rather mundane small executive sedan into a supercar:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 Hartge H50 at Turner Motorsports
We always want what we can’t have and so it goes in the automotive realm. So many great foreign cars have been forbidden to US customers over the years that you could write a book. Last week we featured a tastefully modified 1981 BMW 323i and now hot on its heels comes another 1981 323i, one which was treated to an impressive restoration. For sale in Wisconsin, I could spend all day pouring over the details on this one, from the headlamp wipers to the houndstooth fabric. This is one well executed refurbishment.