While I’ve recently covered quite a string of impressive Alpina models, the reality is that all of them leave me a bit wanting. It’s not that they aren’t lovely, or full of incredible and beautiful detail. It’s not that they’re in bad condition, misused or abused. It’s not salvage titles, accident history or even poorly presented advertisement. No, for me, it’s what you get for your money. I understand the nature of exclusivity and certainly the Alpinas offer that. They, for the most part, also back up that exclusivity with well-engineered increased performance, so while the appearance package helps to set them apart, few Alpinas are posers. But when the asking prices for aftermarket E30s are $50,000, $60,000 – even $90,000 dollars, for you not to question the sanity of the market would be seriously worrysome. That’s especially true since you can get Alpina’s arguably most impressive product from the same period for less:
All posts tagged e34
Long overshadowed by both the E28 and E39, I think the E34 version of the M5 is in fact one of the last definitive M-cars, and is certainly worthy of the kind of attention that it now seems to be getting among M-enthuasiasts (especially those priced out of the E30 market). On the outside it’s modern but understated, a little conservative even, with only a few external features distinguishing it from an ordinary ’90s 5-series. But underneath that utilitarian exterior lies a screamer of a straight six engine, the S38, which has a lineage traceable to the race-bred motor in the iconic M1. While production of this generation M5 ran from 1989 to 1995, cars outside of the US received a revised version of the motor in 1991. The new unit bumped capacity from 3.6 to 3.8 liters and pushed power output from 311 to 335 hp. This particular car is a European-spec example equipped with that larger 3.8 liter motor. It also comes in a rather fetching color.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 BMW M5 on Bimmerforums
The California-based tuning company Dinan has been providing performance upgrades for BMWs since 1979. There’s no shortage of newer cars on the market that purport to have some kind of mods from the firm; 20 cars come up in eBay right now under a search for Dinan, and Carter wrote up this neat ’08 550i M Sport Dinan the other day, for example. But it’s even more interesting to stumble upon an example of an older car with some Dinan components, like this ’95 540i.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW 540i Dinan on Bimmerforums
It’s hard to imagine being the bottom of the totem pole at Alpina, but the 3.5/1 might just be that car. In part that’s because the E34 lineup was so robust, featuring the cool 3.0 Allrad and the Learjet-channeling BiTurbo. When BMW ceased the production of the M30, V8 powered 310 and 340 horsepower 4.0 and 4.6 models replaced the inline-6. In comparison to those headliners, the 254 horsepower B10 3.5/1 seemed like an article more suited for the corner of page 2. However, consider for a moment that the B10 3.5/1’s power numbers were nearly identical to the contemporary super-saloon S38-powered M5 and it helps to restore some clarity to the impressiveness of the products rolling out of Buchloe. Today one of the 572 3.5/1s produced is up for sale in Illinois:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Alpina B10 3.5/1 on eBay
A 535i with a manual transmission is probably the third most desirable version of the E34 5-series, after the M5 and the 540i/540i M-Sport. These cars came with the 3.5 liter “big six” M30 engine (technically a 3.4 liter mill) and represented the top of the non-M lineup until they were replaced in 1993 by the V8-powered 540i. While manual 540s are a hoot if you can find them, they are not without their faults (somewhat thirsty, and susceptible to the nikasil issue, in which the sulphur content of 90s era gasoline had the tendency to eat away at the nikasil lining of the block, requiring a replacement engine). The six-cylinder manual 535 on the other hand, which is perhaps even harder to find than a manual transmission 540, is torquey, smooth, reliable and fun to drive while returning decent fuel economy.