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 fit 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, and in four different configurations – Coupe, Cabriolet, Touring and Sedan. This is one of the 741 3.0s made of which 339 were sedans, and it poses the interesting question – would you rather have this or the European-spec M3 I just looked at?
Update 2/18/18 – the Buy It Now option dropped from $28,500 to $18,000. What a deal!
Lucky for us, we get to continue the string of great-to-see Alpina E34s today with this B10 3.5/1. Unlike the BiTurbo from last week, the 3.5/1 made due with a naturally aspirated form of the M30. Still, head and software changes netted over 250 horsepower, and with the suspension and aerodynamic tweaks you’ve come to expect from Buchloe these were anything but pokey. Best of all, because they’re not the more extoic twin-turbo version pricing is a lot more manageable in general.
But several of the last Alpinas I’ve written up have also had major credential problems. So is this one to consider collectable, or is it another clever copy?
So the last few listings for Alpinas have been….well, quite disappointing to say the least. Most recently was the “B12 5.0”, a car which was cleverly listed to avoid the discussion about its actual provenance. It worked, as the ’88 750iL sold for $23,600:
Another Almost Alpina Alumnus: 1988 BMW 750iL “Alpina B12 5.0”
Before that I looked at two E30s, both of which had some questions about their history and authenticity, though they both looked the part:
Tuner Tuesday E30 Showdown: 1986 Alpina C2 2.5 v. 1987 Hartge H26
Then there was the other C2 2.5, which I was able to confirm after a long time was another assembly of parts rather than an original build:
Mystery Solved?: 1987 Alpina C2 2.5
Not a great record, eh? But all of these auctions went to show that it was very important when checking out these cars to make sure that they had a well-documented history confirming their authenticity. So the other day when a B10 BiTurbo – one of the most sought Alpina models out there – was narrowed into my search criteria, I knew it was worth a look. And at first glance, it all seemed to be right. Did a scrutinizing hold up that belief, or is this another case of ‘can’t judge a book’?
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:
Alpina is a name which holds as much weight in enthusiast’s minds as names like AMG and Ruf, and for good reason. Since the infancy of BMW’s mainstream involvement in both motorsports and road cars, Alpina has been intrinsically linked to the marque and has developed some of the more memorable fast alternatives to BMW’s own M series. They have a different character; you could say they were less aggressive, but the signature Alpina Blue with large turbine wheels, character stripes and spoilers paired often with the combination of specially upholstered interiors replete with rich woods results in a package that many view is more special than the standard production cars. Their complete reworking of models right down to special engines and suspensions has resulted in a bespoke BMW made in limited quantities and with its own unique character:
Alpina E30s have exploded onto eBay over the past year; I never remember seeing quite so many of these small tuned 3s for sale on a regular basis. In part that’s because so few were produced; with this B6 model for example, a scant 259 were produced, with just over 1,000 total E30s modified in all forms by the legendary company. The B6 wasn’t as wild as the later big-motored 3.5, but it was still much more than adequate with 210 horsepower from the M30 coupled with lower suspension, bigger wheels and brakes. Alpina, of course, added their personal flare of colors, stripes and awesome interiors, and the B6 is one attractive small sedan in such form. It’s easy to forget that there was a time before the M3, and in early 1984 this was the fastest small German 4-seater you could buy. That would change in mid ’84 with the introduction of the B6 3.5, but today it’s still a very desirable and rare to find package. That’s especially true when it’s presented in signature Alpina Blue with low miles and in pristine condition: