I still remember hearing the news that Alpina was going to be tuning a Z8 around 2002. “Awesome”, I thought, “this thing is going to eat Porsches for breakfast!” Imagine my shock when I found out it was going to be an automatic; I was confused and felt lost. Then, I found out they yanked the 4.9 S62 M5 powerplant out in exchange for something less powerful. It was as if Alpina had broken into my mind and destroyed my dreams – I didn’t get it. Then I saw one, and I thought “Wow, they actually made it look a little bit better”. Yes, externally it was only wheels, but somehow those wheels and Alpina badges were still magical and understated but hinted there was more to this car than just less horsepower and more money. Fast forward a few years and the Alpina Roadster V8s are commanding more money than the original Z8 they were based upon. What had I missed?
Well, I missed that Alpina hadn’t just slapped some wheels onto a Z8; Alpina had completely reworked the E52 to be their own car. Yes, the tuned M62B48 V8 borrowed from the B10 had a few less horsepower than the S62, but critically it had more torque, and that torque was available lower in the rev range. Alpina had also softened the suspension, which apparently improved ride quality despite the massive 20″ wheels. Indeed, by softening the character of the Z8 slightly, Alpina had made the V8 Roadster a more enjoyable and more relaxing car. One thing they didn’t change was that bite-the-back-of-your-hand good looks. Today’s example looks stunning in black, a nice change from the very popular silver that most seemed to be painted. Oh, and it’s got 7 miles. SEVEN. If that doesn’t blow your mind, the price will.
The M635CSi somehow gets lost among the other greats of the period from BMW. Perhaps, for U.S. fans, it’s the nomenclature that’s confusing. After all, there was a M1, an M3, and a M5, but when it came to the M version of the E24, BMW stuck with the moniker M635CSi in all markets but the United States and Japan. Confounding that decision was the launch of the E28 M535i. Like the M635CSi, it had additional body pieces, special interior trim and wheels from M-Technic. But while the M535i had a fairly normal M30 under the hood, the E24 received the full-fat M88/3 that was shared with the M5. Like the European M5 production started in 1984, well before they were available to U.S. customers. But while the M5 only sold in very sparse numbers over its short production cycle (about 775 sold in Europe between 1984 and 1987), the M635i was a relative hit, with just over 3,900 selling overall – far more than made it the U.S. market. Additionally, the European models were a slightly more pure form of the design; smaller bumpers, less weight, and about 30 more horsepower on tap without catalyst.
Back in February, I looked at a group of M6s with asking prices all over the map. True, some M6s have sold for big numbers and there’s one looking like it may hit $100,000 this week. But they’ve all been pristine original U.S. examples with very low mileage. Today we have a moderate mileage, lightly modified European M635CSi in an offbeat color (for the M6), so how does the price sit?
Though the E3 had offered a sizeable sedan, the replacement E23 really stretched BMW’s platforms. The new 7-seres was 6 inches longer overall, most of which fell in a longer wheelbase versus the E3. It was also wider by a few inches and lower, too. Paul Bracq again provided the styling and it was nothing surprising; it carried the torch of many of the design elements of the 3-, 5- and 6-series cars, and that certainly wasn’t a bad thing. But what BMW hoped would help to set it apart from the competition was technology and performance, along with a high-level of material quality in the cabin. Options included Buffalo leather, an on-board computer system, anti-lock brakes, heated and reclining power seats front and rear, and even an airbag late in the run; standard fare today, but way ahead of the curve in the late 1970s and early 1980s. BMW matched this technology with a thoroughly modern driver-oriented cockpit which made the W116 Mercedes-Benz competition feel immediately antiquated.
E23s are hard to come by today but generally affordable, certainly in the context of current 80s BMW pricing. And though only a 733i, this one has some uniqueness to help it stand apart, too:
While the B10 BiTurbo generated the headlines as the world’s fastest sedan, BMW’s replacement M60 V8 motor was making its way into production and the M30 inline-6 was on its way out. Of course that meant it wasn’t too long before Buchloe got their hands on one, and in turn it wasn’t too long before the B10 4.0 replaced the BiTurbo as the top offering. But a year later, Alpina had already punched out the block to 4.6 liters. Now generating 340 horsepower, the new B10 4.6 not only was as quick as the M5, it was considerably cheaper and less complicated than the BiTurbo had been too.
Like the 4.0 before it, the standard 17″ Alpina wheel treatment, upgraded suspension, larger and less restrictive exhaust, aerodynamic tweaks and unique interiors all made their way here. Also like the 4.0, the 4.6 was available as either a sedan or Touring, and as either a 6-speed manual or 5-speed Switch-Tronic automatic. A scant 46 were built before the end of E34 production, of which only 19 were Touring models – making this one of the most limited Alpinas produced:
Update 6/1/19: This 1802 Touring apparently sold at $19,999.
Long before “Clownshoe” mania, BMW had another slightly off-beat hatchback in its lineup. The company recently spent a fairly sizable sum advertising the lineage between the new 2 series and the original 2002, but as generally impressive as the new 2 is, the one thing lacking is a model similar to the E6 Touring model. Okay, the F45 and F46 tall hatchback models channel a bit of that, but let’s be honest – they’re not exactly what enthusiasts love. And similarly polarizing is the Touring model in the E10 lineup. The Michelotti design channeled some of the GT feel from the Glas acquisition, but while the fluid lines of the 1600GT worked well in a low slung sports car, moving to the taller and more upright E10 platform gave the Touring slightly odd dimensions.
Shortened by about 6 inches and with additional glass, the Touring had modern conveniences like split-folding rear seats and was available in five different engine configurations over its short three year model life. From 1600 to 2002, the model designations referred to the engine capacity – imagine that! Here we have a Typ118 E6 – the 1802 Touring.
As BMW turned firmly towards sports car racing and aimed its cross hairs directly at Stuttgart, it was the Big Coupe – the E9 – that would first carry their fledgling Motorsports division to the victory circle in large-scale international racing. While the 2002 had been champion in support series – Dieter Quester in ’68 and ’69 Division 3, for example, the E9 moved BMW up to directly challenge the fastest sports cars in the world. Victory laurels in some of the most significant races followed: The European Touring Car Championship (’73, ’75, ’76, ’77, ’78 and finally ’79 – some years out of E9 production!) and class victories at Le Mans, Spa and Daytona. These racing efforts had coincided with the growth of some of BMW’s most significant tuning partners; Schnitzer Motorsports and, of course, Alpina.
At the launch of the E9, Alpina would still be a long way from becoming the factory partner and full-fledged manufacturer we recognize today. However, prior to their first official model launch, like AMG the company was active in producing aftermarket parts – especially, motors – for the BMW range. Early Alpina-modified cars are hard to come by, and often lack the full documentation of the later VIN-specific models. However, once in a while a very original and significant one pops up such as today’s late production E9 apparently with all its ducks in a row. Originally a 2.5CS, this car underwent thorough modifications in the 1970s including installation of one of their hottest motors:
One notable omission from the EAG Ultimate BMW garage I wrote up last Monday was an E9. The E9 represented one of BMW Motorsports first production endeavors in the 3.0CSL. But beyond that, it also one of the prettiest cars BMW and their pals at Karmann Coachworks ever produced in my opinion. The elegant pillar-less design married with impossibly slender A and C pillars to create an elegant, sweeping greenhouse over the low, angular lines of the main body. Recently my wife asked me if there were any attractive cars made in the 1970s, and the E9 was my immediate retort. They were more muscular and yet elegant than the earlier and somewhat awkward 2000CS they were based upon. It’s just right.
Now, today’s example isn’t the mega-desirable 3.0CSL. It’s not even a 3.0, but the earlier 2800CS. It’s also undergone quite a few changes into a bit of a resto-mod. But for me, the look is bang-on and this is one of the better looking E9s I’ve seen recently. It was certainly worth a further look:
We’ve certainly seen our fair share of fake Alpinas come across these pages, but this one makes no claim to be authentic. Instead, it’s inspired by Alpina but takes its own route and character. I originally looked at this car back in 2014 and it’s been on and off the market since. Now showing “8,800” kilometers, the side Alpina decals gone and with a $10,000 increase in asking price since the last time we saw it, will the market appreciate this custom-built E28 this time around?
Update 9/18/18: This Alpina B5, claimed (believably) to be the only one in the U.S., is now up on SecondDaily.com with a $22,000 Buy Now. At that price it would seem much more in line with the market!
In my mind, Alpina’s mystique has dimmed slightly over the past decade. Still capable of producing monsterously powerful luxury machines, the proliferation of options that are also insanely fast and luxurious has meant that the company’s original niche has become substantially more commonplace. And while it’s been awesome that Alpinas started being imported through BMW dealerships in 2007 and now offer several models to U.S. fans who can stomach the serious price tags, it also made them much less exclusive.
While products have widened over the past few years to include the 6-series, most of what Alpina sent to the U.S. market was based on the 7. The supercharged B7 was quite potent, but didn’t solve the problem of the E65’s looks all that much. Arguably, no amount of anything could do that particularly well.
But the B7’s supercharged 4.4 V8 was also available to Europeans in a (slightly) smaller package – the B5. Based on the E60, what would have started as a 330 horsepower 545i was transformed into a 500 horsepower, 500 lb.ft torque weapon. In typical fashion, Alpina revised the wheels and suspension, exhaust and interior, and of course added body kits to the E60. With 133 lb feet more torque than the V10 M5 produced and at a more reasonable 4,000 rpm rather than 6,000, the B5 could actually out-accelerate the M product. 0-62 was tested to arrive in 4.6 seconds, and the fun didn’t run out until you were just 5 mph shy of 200. Best yet, you could have this speed in a wagon!
Unfortunately for U.S. fans, the B5 and even more powerful B5S weren’t imported to the U.S.. Production of the B5 was limited to only 428 sedans, and the quite believable claim is that this is the only one in the United States:
The prospect sounded promising, but I was left feeling lackluster at best about the 750 mile 2001 BMW 330Ci I wrote up a few weeks ago. Sure, it was nice and that interior certainly was to die for; so, too, was the basically as-new condition. But the 5-speed automatic transmission, coupled with the outrageous $32,000 asking price, had me thinking there were better options out there. So if I was in the $30K range for an E46, what are my options?
Well, obviously there are plenty of M3s to check out any day of the week, and I’ll be looking at one soon enough. But when our reader John sent through this seriously impressive Alpina, I couldn’t help but take a look. The B3 isn’t a model we often look at; in fact, I’ve only reviewed on prior, and it was a E36 chassis. The E46 took an unusual route for Alpinas; rather than a blank-slate motor, the Buchloe company selected the S52B32 from the U.S. spec E36 M3 for their basis. It was bored and stroked to 3.3 liters, netting 280 horsepower. In 2002, the “S” version of the B3 was released, with a bit more bore and a revised engine management and exhaust system. This brought the power to 305, 0-60 plummeted to 5 seconds and with a 6-speed manual you could come close to hanging with the M3. Why buy one, then? Well, the looks were a bit more discrete overall, and you could buy not only a sedan and Touring version, but an all-wheel drive one as well. Today, though, we have a lovely Cabrio with the 6-speed manual to check out: