Alpina E30s have exploded in popularity over the past year; I never remember seeing quite so many of these small tuned 3s for sale on a regular basis. In part I’m so incredulous because so few were produced; with this B6 model for example, a scant 259 were made between late 1983 and mid-1986, with just over 1,100 total E30s modified in all forms by the legendary company. The B6 2.8/1 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.
I still remember the moment as the wave of envy set over me. A struggling college student, I had tried hard to balance my love of cars with the multiple part-time jobs I fit in between classes. Ultimately, cars probably came before some things they should have, but still fell staunchly behind the realities of life. Rent. Tutition. Books. Utilites. FOOD. These necessities multiplied themselves together over the years, grasping at my meager weekly paycheck more rapidly than I could deposit it in the bank. Trips to the pump were always metered; weeks went by holding breath at every turn of the key, praying for a safe completion of circuit. And when you own a ’84 Volkswagen that sat in a driveway not running for decade rotting away before you resurrected it, often your dreams of a trouble-free commute are unrealized.
As a result of my shoestring budget, I often turned to a friend to help with mechanical work that my GTI often needed. He’d stop by my house after work and wrench for a bit, or I’d drive it by his place for a replacement part or ten. He also had a A1 – a sweet special edition Cabriolet from ’85 which he had spent years tricking out. But on one of these repair stops, he introduced me to his new toy.
It was 1998 and he had picked up a ’90 Corrado G60. He had picked it up cheap, too, as they often broke even when pretty new. Two things struck me about this car. Though it was only 6 years newer than my GTI, it might as well have been a spaceship. The two shared nothing in common outside of the badge. My pyrite-in-the-rough GTI was rusty and not so trusty. Horrible build quality meant things regularly broke, or fell off, or rusted off; often, the trifecta struck. It was a square slowly-deteriorating block of iron oxide in a rounded-off world. In comparison, the Corrado looked well-built, felt modern, was comfortable, had air conditioning and electronic items that…well, functioned, and even had paint all in one color. But the other thing that struck me was just how tired and old that Corrado already felt in 1998. I rarely buy cars that are newer than 10 years old, but this Corrado felt a lot more than that already. Perhaps that was because the VR6 model had so quickly replaced it. Or perhaps it was because I was still excited for new cars to launch in 1998. Looking back, though, my initial impressions of the Corrado G60 still hold true. But am I still jealous that I didn’t have one?
From the top-tier of the BMW performance catalog in 1985, we’re shifting gears to what was just about the slowest BMW you could procure in the 1980s. The E28 of course had a base model – here it was the 528e with the M20B27 good for just over 120 horsepower. But European countries and Japan got an even pokier version, the 518 and 518i. The 518i had the fuel-injected M10B18 looking a bit like a lost puppy cowering under the long hood, rated at 103 horsepower. It was capable of gently motivating the E28 to 60 in 12.6 seconds and had a top speed of 109 mph. Hardly thrilling, right? However, it wasn’t intended for speed – it was intended for economy. The 218 horsepower M535i you’d like to be reading about consumed 9 liters of fuel at 120 kph over 100km, while the 518i sipped one less. Not impressed? Around town, that same M535i churned through 15 liters for 100 km. The 518i? 9.9. Even though gas was relatively cheap in the 1980s, that still adds up when you’re sitting in traffic.
But today if you’re looking at a classic BMW E28, you’re not thinking of fuel economy. What are you thinking of? Condition, condition, condition:
I’m always curious to take a look at pre-merger Mercedes-Benz AMG cars when they come up for sale and today’s car, a 1993 600SEL, is one of those cars I don’t see all that often. Normally, when these V12 W140 cars made their way to AMG or another tuning house like Renntech or Brabus, the factory 6.0 liter would be converted to a 7.0, 7.2 or 7.3 liter. It only made sense, as the M120 is as a robust a V12 as they come, and the profit margins that were probably built into these conversions when these cars were still new made it all worth it. I’ve looked a S70 AMG before with a dubious past and like today’s car, it was actually built at AMG Japan. The thing is, this isn’t a S70; it is still just a 600SEL. So what is going on here?
Here is a special one. This is a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing AMG. You are probably thinking to yourself that ”300SL Gullwing” and ”AMG” don’t go together and up until the year 1996, you would be correct. That is because in 1996, AMG began taking original W198 Gullwing and Roadsters, and putting modern AMG drivetrains and interiors in them. Who thought this was a good idea? The Royal Family of Brunei. Remember him? According to AMG, 11 of these cars were produced from 1996 to 2008 with five going to the Royal Family and the other six going to qualified AMG customers. The rumored price tag at the time was over €1,000,000 thanks to AMG literally having to rebuild these cars from a bare metal shell.
This 1955 model that was converted in 2000 is one of only two right hand drive cars built. It was imported to Japan when the conversion was wrapped up and has been with its only owner ever since. Now it is coming up for auction in Tokyo, Japan soon. But first, lets take a look at what exactly a 300SL Gullwing AMG is:
I have said this before and I guess I will say it again, just when I think I have seen it all, something else surprises me to no end. What you are looking at today is a 1990 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL modified into a hearse to resemble a small, ornate Japanese Buddhist Temple. To my surprise, this W126 isn’t in Japan. It is Raleigh, North Carolina of all places where it will be up for auction at the Raleigh Classic Car Auction. I have many questions and not a lot of answers, so let me try to make sense of what is going on with this wild thing.
Update 7/8/18: The seller has dropped the price from the original $29,000 ask to $24,900 today.
I’ve shown in several recent Alpina posts that you really need to watch what you’re buying. As it’s still possible to get all of the parts from Alpinas and even replica dash plaques can be forged, it’s the details that help to establish that you’re barking up the right tree.
The last E32 Alpina we looked at was the replica B12 5.0. While it looked the part and featured correct Alpina parts, it was not an original build – something that makes a difference in the pricing. Yet that didn’t slow down bids the second time around, as a slick picture gallery and glaring omission that it was a later build from parts netted a $23,600 sale. For a non-original E32, that was seriously strong bidding. For example, we had featured a real B12 5.0 with very low mileage in pristine condition for $29,900 in 2016.
Today we have another E32, but this time it’s the lower-spec B11 with the M30-derived 3.5 liter inline-6. Looks wise, there’s little to differentiate these two models. While the E30, E28 and E34 models usually steal the headlines, I absolutely love the brutish look of the even larger 7 adorned with the signature Alpina treatment. So is this B11 the real deal, and is it a better deal?
A little over a month ago I looked at a 1999 Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG Estate that, thanks to Canada’s 15-year import law, was ready to be enjoyed by our friends to the north. Today, I have big brother E55 AMG Estate that looks to be literally fresh off the boat from Japan. This 2001 shows 47,000 miles and looks to be missing the most important W210 characteristic: rust. Although much like the W211 AMG Estate, you’ll pay a premium for that extra cargo room.
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?
We last got to look at a modified E30 through the disappointing realization that finally after years of trying to sell with different dealers, the car listed as an Alpina C2 2.5 was just a very convincing replica. But as noted, the car was clean and wore a lot of really expensive Alpina bits – so while the price tag of $22,800 seemed high for a replica, it was in some ways amazingly justified.
So what happens when the car in question is a real Alpina? We find out when we look at an actual Alpina C2. The asking price in that case was nearly double at $39,500. And when you factor in that the C2 is one of the less desirable E30 Alpinas out there, that’s drawn into sharper contrast.
So here we are again with another Alpina to consider, but it’s not alone. One of our readers spotted a Hartge H26 – an even more rare to see variant of modified 1980s E30. And to kick the rarity up a few notches, both are 4-doors instead of the usual 2-door sedans. So how do they compare in terms of pricing, and are these cars all that they seem?