1982 BMW Alpina B7 S Turbo E12, 1982 BMW Alpina B7 Turbo Coupé E24 and 1983 BMW Alpina B9 3.5 E28

2019 Will Williams and Drive-My EN/UK

Beasts of Buchloe Three Alpinas, E12, E24 and E28, come together to trace the evolution of BMW’s tuning powerhouse. Words Greg Macleman. Photography Will Williams.


ON THE ALPINA TRAIL  The cars that announced the Buchloe tuner’s arrival: B7S, B7 Coupé and B9

THE BIRTH OF ALPINA, BMW’S POWERHOUSE


Some gigs you just don’t turn down, and this one has led me to an imposing compound on the banks of Lake Geneva. It’s an ungodly hour on a cold late-winter morning and, far from the Alpine idyll, concrete and barbed wire surround us. We must have taken a wrong turn but, despite the entrance looking like a scene from The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, we are eventually waved through and pick our way between the railway lines and lorry tenders to where, we’ve been assured, we will see something very special.


Three Alpinas, E12, E24 and E28, come together to trace the evolution of BMW’s tuning powerhouse

Three Alpinas, E12, E24 and E28, come together to trace the evolution of BMW’s tuning powerhouse


The unit’s roller shutter clacks up in noisy protest to reveal a cavernous hall, empty but for silhouettes of row upon row of classic cars. If discovering a barn-find is like a nugget of gold among the silt, this is opening the vault doors of Fort Knox – ingot after ingot lined up against the darkness. Our eyes finally adjust to reveal the treasures within; from Bentley Continental R to Renault 5 Turbo 2, hundreds of modern classics stretch out in the gloom. But it’s the collection’s bent towards German tuning powerhouse Alpina that most excites.

‘The B9 3.5 could hit 62mph in just 6.8 secs, but it cost £23,495 in ’1984 – more than an entry-level Porsche 911 Carrera’

To see one Alpina is a thrill, to come across a room of dozens is truly remarkable – more so considering the rarity of the examples before us, some of which are so special that they’re rarely spotted outside the pages of period magazines and reference books. Incredibly, we’re given free rein, kids in a sweet shop, allowed to take the keys to whatever we like for one day only.


1982 BMW Alpina B7 S Turbo E12, 1982 BMW Alpina B7 Turbo Coupé E24 and 1983 BMW Alpina B9 3.5 E28

1982 BMW Alpina B7 S Turbo E12, 1982 BMW Alpina B7 Turbo Coupé E24 and 1983 BMW Alpina B9 3.5 E28 / Golden lines of progress: E28 B9 3.5 (left) and E12 B7S Turbo flankthe E24 B7 Turbo Coupé.


The temptation is to start at the beginning – but that exact point is up for debate. The earliest Alpinas, after all, didn’t even have four wheels. Like Citroën’s specialism in helical gears and Honda’s production of piston rings for future rival Toyota, Alpina’s early path involved the manufacture of something more mundane: typewriters. It wasn’t until the sale of the business that the former owner’s son, Burkard Bovensiepen, turned his hand towards automobiles. And, as with the most interesting endeavours, work began in a garden shed.

Bovensiepen started tuning cars with the arrival of the Neue Klasse in 1962, reworking the manifold and replacing the single Solex carb with a twin Weber set-up to increase power by nearly 10%. His modifications were so popular that he began to sell conversion kits, and within two years Bovensiepen had gained factory approval from Munich and began producing a range of supplementary suspension and handling enhancements.

Search as you might, you won’t find any of these early go-faster shed-built examples in the halls of this collection. There were plenty of them built, though: by the mid-1970s, Alpina was churning out as many as 300 cars per year and more than twice as many conversion kits, which were often fitted by inexperienced mechanics. It was the danger of shoddily converted home-brew cars damaging Alpina’s reputation that led to its focus on converting entire cars and, with BMW’s backing, brandnew cars were shipped straight to Buchloe. The shift was heralded in 1978 by the arrival of three new bona fide Alpina-badged models: the E21 3 Series B6 2.8, the E24 6 Series B7 Turbo Coupé and the E12 B7 Turbo.


1982 BMW Alpina B7 S Turbo E12

1982 BMW Alpina B7 S Turbo E12 road test


It’s the latter of this early trio that became the most desirable of the marque’s models, and nestled in a quiet corner of this warehouse is a jaw-dropping Sapphire Blue Metallic example. In über-rare ‘S’ trim, too.

Alpina had been tinkering with BMW’s businesslike Marcello Gandini and Paul Bracq-penned E12 since it first went on sale in four-cylinder guise in 1972, but the highlight of the range arrived in 1978. And, as one of Alpina’s first complete packages, the B7 Turbo showcased what the firm could do. The humble 5 Series was treated to a hotted-up 2985cc six-cylinder M30 that now produced 295bhp thanks to lightweight pistons, reshaped combustion chambers, a hot camshaft and Pierburg continuous-flow fuel injection, plus a KKK turbocharger that was more usually spotted in the back of Porsches. Boost pressure could be varied from 0.5bar to 0.9bar via a small dial between the front seats; the adjustability allowed the driver to turn down the power to 236bhp if low-quality fuel had to be used. The impressive spec sheet also boasted a dogleg five-speed Getrag gearbox fitted with close ratios and a limited-slip differential.

The pinnacle of the E12 range, the B7S Turbo launched in 1982, took things even further. At its heart was a turbocharged iteration of the 3453cc sohc six-pot found in the 635CSi E24 and M535i, with full power rated at a dizzying 325bhp. The 3-litre car had already been crowned the world’s quickest four-door saloon, and the new version dropped the 0-62mph sprint time from 5.9 to 5.8 secs – less than half a second off the pace of a Ferrari 512 Berlinetta Boxer.


1983 BMW Alpina B9 3.5 E28

1983 BMW Alpina B9 3.5 E28


There’s no confusing the B7S Turbo with its cooking-model siblings, either. It might keep the same instantly recognisable silhouette, but its features are tough with an incredibly deep front spoiler, trademark turbine-style wheels and plastic boot lip that isn’t just there for show.

It’s straight-laced but mean; its purposeful 16in rims fill the arches and help its muscular stance, which comes courtesy of Bilstein dampers and firm lowering springs. The ‘Deko’ decals that run along each flank, appended by its model designation emblazoned in gold, complete the look. Open the heavy door and the detail continues inside the cabin: it is decked out with all the trimmings including plush green and blue velvet-trimmed sports seats, and a meaty four-spoke steering wheel.

Walking deeper into the frigid storage facility is like stepping through Alpina’s back catalogue, and it isn’t long before we spot the unmistakable sharknose of the E24 6 Series, second of the complete models that marked Alpina’s move away from the aftermarket. Buyers wanting autobahn- storming performance were spoiled in 1976 by Bracq’s replacement for the aging E9 Coupé, and many went straight to Alpina for its E24 630CS B2 and E24 633CSi B8 versions. But again, the best was saved for the car that was badged as an Alpina: the B7 Turbo Coupé.

Behind the flashy white exterior, 20-spoke alloy wheels, go-faster stickers and and eccentric yellow-tinted driving lamps, the Coupé is every bit the performance tool of its more restrained four-door counterpart. Opening the hefty bonnet reveals an identical drivetrain to that of the early B7 Turbo, from its proven 3-litre turbocharged ‘six’ to its five-speed gearbox, while inside the interior is trimmed in more upmarket hide – everything you would expect from a range-topping GT. Only 153 examples left the factory, in part due to a whopping pricetag of £20,900. Just 60 were made of the ultimate B7S Turbo Coupés, built to the uprated 3.5-litre specification in 1982.


1982 BMW Alpina B7 Turbo Coupé E24

1982 BMW Alpina B7 Turbo Coupé E24

The next step in Alpina’s development – and a big driver of its commercial success – came courtesy of the E28 5 Series, which replaced the outgoing E12 in 1981 and served as a stop-gap until the arrival of the more heavily reworked E34 in 1987. BMW was surprisingly slow off the mark when it came to performance variants of the E28, with buyers having to make do with the range-topping 528i until the arrival of the 535i, M535i and M5 E28 four years later. Bovensiepen was only too happy to plug the early gap, setting out his stall with the B9 3.5 just six months after the new model was released.

As with previous generations, the route to greater power for the new Alpina was achieved through extensive engine modifications. Wolfgang Siebert was the man in charge of extracting more power from BMW’s 3453cc straight-six, doing so via a new gas-flowed cylinder head with hemispherical combustion chambers, beefier inlet valves and a lairy 268º camshaft, allied to a re-mapped management system and free-flowing twin-pipe exhaust. The result was a useful power increase to 242bhp from the 528i’s 215bhp, with performance figures and price-tag to match. The B9 3.5 could hit 62mph in just 6.8 secs, but it cost a hefty £23,495 in ’1984 – more than an entry-level Porsche 911 Carrera.

Lining up outside the warehouse, it’s clear that the E28 shares many of the same design cues as the E12, to the point that it’s easy to confuse the two saloons – particularly when the cars in question both wear Alpina detailing. Differences are most noticeable in the cabin, where the E28 centre console is canted towards the driver – a feature carried over to countless models in the following decades, reinforcing the idea of the Ultimate Driving Machine.

Of the three Alpinas, the legendary B7S Turbo calls to be driven first. Freed from the confines of the collection, we point the nose towards the hills surrounding the lake and squeeze the organ-pedal accelerator. It feels a world away from the kick-up-the-backside power delivery of a 2002 turbo, but waking all 325bhp is still an eye-opening experience.

There’s lag, followed by a relentless surge of power that would border on frightening were it not for the eerily quiet cabin, which fills not with engine noise but the increasing whine of the spooled-up turbocharger. It’s only at inadvisable speeds that road and wind noise begin to intrude. Throw it into corners and you’ll be surprised at how composed the big car remains, its firm suspension doing just enough to keep a tidy line.

Press harder and it doesn’t take much to provoke the back end, which slips sideways with predictability – particularly on flattering uphill Alpine switchbacks, where gravity is on your side. Sharing many components with its saloon sibling, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the sharklike E24 Coupé performs in a similar fashion. The car deftly transforms from consummate grand tourer to ballistic missile quicker than Clark Kent can find a phone box. It’s devilishly quick when it breaks its shackles, on paper capable of keeping pace with a contemporary 911.

Plant the accelerator and you’re met with a familiar onrush of turbo power, a wave of seemingly exponential torque that you can only ride in short bursts between hairpins. It feels quicker than the saloon – and it is, despatching the dash to 62mph in just 5.7 secs. It’s poised and planted, too; the centre of gravity feels somehow lower, whether by design or a trick of the driving position, and it clings on well in the corners.

The straights truly delight, so too the commanding view over that long bonnet that rises up under hard acceleration. It is a view recognisable to all E24 fans – and of those there are many. Swapping to the youngest car, the E28, it’s easy to feel disappointed – after all, it makes do without a turbocharger, and the example we’ve taken up the mountain has the optional automatic transmission rather than the more engaging manual. But what it lacks in terms of outright power it makes up for through an accomplished and well-balanced chassis that is eminently chuckable. It feels as composed on the long sweepers of the valley floor as it does the acute narrow lanes, making a good account of itself during a straight-line blast. In isolation it’s superb; you’d only be disappointed if you found yourself chasing its more powerful forebear along the autobahn – especially given that the E12 B7S Turbo remained on sale until 1982.

Eventually the cars are returned to their temporary slumber at the storage facility, but not for long. The first cars of the collection have already crossed the block at the RM Sotheby’s Rétromobile sale in Paris, including the sublime B7S Turbo that fetched €138,000, with dozens more at Techno-Classica in Essen. You’ll need deep pockets, but for the die-hard followers of Buchloe, these cars are priceless.


Thanks to RM Sotheby’s; the next sales are in Fort Lauderdale on 29-30 March and Essen on 11-12 April (www.rmsothebys.com)


1982 BMW Alpina B7 S Turbo E12, 1982 BMW Alpina B7 Turbo Coupé E24 and 1983 BMW Alpina B9 3.5 E28
1982 BMW Alpina B7 S Turbo E12, 1982 BMW Alpina B7 Turbo Coupé E24 and 1983 BMW Alpina B9 3.5 E28

Clockwise from main: BMW E28 reflects its forebear E12; B9 seems light on power compared to the earlier cars; auto ’box was produced by ZF. Far left from top: B9 comes alive in sweepers; distinctive lineage brought together. Clockwise from main: Deko decals continued through to 6 Series E24; upmarket trim increased premium feel; impressive top speed cleared 160mph mark; 3-litre ‘six’ and drivetrain were carried over from the early B7 Turbo. Clockwise from main: just 60 B7S Turbos were made, all with distinctive gold Deko pinstripes down the side; interior was plush for a performance machine; despite its size B7S is composed through turns; 325bhp 3.5-litre ‘six’.


 

1982 BMW Alpina B7 S Turbo E12

Sold For €138.000

Inclusive of applicable buyer’s fee.

RM | Sotheby’s – PARIS 6 FEBRUARY 2019 – The Youngtimer Collection

Chassis No. WBACJ7103B6579936


Offered from the Youngtimer Collection

The 22nd of only 60 examples built


TEMPORARY IMPORT

Replacing what was then the fastest four-door saloon in the world, the B7 S Turbo certainly had big shoes to fill. Now graced with a 3.5-litre inline-six cylinder engine, boost on the turbos was increased and with a new ignition system, output was increased to 330 bhp and 500 nm of torque . . . the same amount of torque produced by BMW’s E39 M5, a car that would not go into production for another 17 years.

First registered in January of 1982 and delivered new in Germany, this is the 22nd B7 S Turbo built of a total production run of just 60 examples. Finished in Dark Sapphire Blue metallic over an interior swath in Alpina cloth, the car resided in Germany prior to being purchased by the consignor in 2015. Invoices on file show that the car was serviced at a cost of over 8,500 CHF in October of 2016 and has been driven roughly 100 km since. More recently, it was shown at the 2018 Concours d’Elegance Suisse.

Today, the B7 Turbo S presents in excellent, well-preserved condition. While the odometer is currently showing 57,861 km, the car’s true mileage is in excess of 220,000 km. The odometer was replaced some time before a cosmetic refreshing prior to the consignor’s purchase. For the family of four looking for an exciting and modern classic, this would be a blast to drive and enjoy.

Addendum

Please note that contrary to the catalog description, this car’s true mileage is in excess of 220,000 km.

Veuillez noter que, contrairement à la description du catalogue papier, le kilométrage réel de cette voiture est supérieur à 220 000 km. Please note that the estimate on this car is €150,000–€200,000.

Veuillez noter que l’estimation, pour cette voiture, est de 150 000-200 000 €.


{module BMW E12}


 

1982 BMW Alpina B7 Turbo Coupé E24

€90.000 – €100.000

RM | Sotheby’s – ESSEN 11 – 12 APRIL 2019 – The Youngtimer Collection

Chassis No. WBAEA3108C5571324


TEMPORARY IMPORT

First launched in 1978, the B7 Turbo Coupé was Alpina’s first full conversion for BMW’s 6 Series platform and featured a 300 bhp turbocharged variant of BMW’s six-cylinder engine sourced from the 630 CSi. Additional upgrades included an upgraded Bilstein suspension, ventilated brake discs and a body-kit with signature Alpina multi-spoke wheels.

A late-production example having been first delivered in 1982, this example’s Alpinweiß paintwork and tan interior are a testament to the love and care bestowed on it by previous owners. Passing through owners in France, Luxemburg and Germany, it was acquired by its current owner and exported to Switzerland from Germany in 2017 by its current owner. It has retained all of its Alpina accoutrements and presents wonderfully both inside and out.

Just 183 B7 Turbo Coupés were built, and this well cared for example is a fine illustration of what Alpina has subsequently become famous for: blistering performance married to elegant, understated looks. A gentleman’s supercar, perfect for high-speed touring across Europe, this is a highly compelling alternative for someone looking for 6 Series looks and the performance of something a bit more special than BMW’s normal offerings.

  • Aus der Youngtimer Collection
  • Eines von nur 153 gebauten Exemplaren
  • Fantastisch in alpinweiß mit Alpina Details und hellbraunem Leder

Das 1978 vorgestellte B7 Turbo Coupé war der erste Komplettumbau eines BMW 6er Coupés von Alpina. Der Motor aus dem 630 CSi leistete hier 300 PS. Hinzu kamen ein verbessertes Fahrwerk von Bilstein, belüftete Scheibenbremsen und das klassische Alpina Bodykit mit den charakteristischen Alpina Mehrspeichenfelgen.

Dieses Exemplar in alpinweiß mit hellbraunem Leder wurde 1982 ausgeliefert und gehört zu den letzten gebauten Modellen. Die Liebe und Pflege, die diesem Fahrzeug von seinen früheren Besitzern in Frankreich, Luxemburg und Deutschland zuteil wurde, lässt sich am guten Zustand erkennen. Der vom heutigen Besitzer 2017 gekaufte und in die Schweiz importierte Alpina weist noch alle Alpina-Insignien auf und steht wunderbar da.

Insgesamt wurden nur 183 B7 Turbo Coupés gebaut, und dieses besonders gepflegte Exemplar ist ein gutes Beispiel für den Erfolg des Allgäuer Unternehmens: atemberaubende Performance verbunden mit elegantem und dezentem Aussehen. Ein „Gentleman’s Supercar“, perfekt für paneuropäische Touren, eine überzeugende Alternative mit der Optik einer 6er-Reihe, aber mehr Kick unter der Haube.


 {module BMW E24}
 


 

1983 BMW Alpina B9 3.5 E28

Sold For €60.375

Inclusive of applicable buyer’s fee.RM | Sotheby’s – PARIS 6 FEBRUARY 2019 – The Youngtimer Collection

Chassis No. WBADA8108D7586078

Offered from the Youngtimer Collection

The first Alpina product on BMW’s E28 platform


TEMPORARY IMPORT

Production of the Alpina B9 3.5 began in November of 1981, and this would be Alpina’s first car to utilize the new E28 5-Series as its underlying platform. Using BMW’s 3.5-litre inline six-cylinder engine as a starting point, Alpina was able to coax out some extra performance by fitting high-compression Mahle pistons in addition to fitting a new camshaft and reprogramming its Motronic ignition system, raising overall output from 218 bhp in the 528i to 245 bhp. Torque was also increased to 320 nm. Over the course of six years of production, 577 examples were produced.

While a five-speed manual gearbox was standard equipment in the B9 3.5, an automatic gearbox could be fitted as an optional extra, an option which this car retains. Exported from Japan to Switzerland in 2016, upon its arrival, the car was serviced at a cost of over CHF 6,500. Since then, the car has remained largely in storage on display alongside many other Alpinas, and is presented today in well-preserved condition throughout. Boasting BMW Lapis Blue paintwork over an Alpina cloth interior, this would be an excellent stablemate or alternative to an E28 M5.


{module BMW E28 Club}


 

ALPINA TIMELINE

1949 Alpina Buromaschinenwerke-Vertrieb Bovensiepen AG founded by Dr Rudolph Bovensiepen, selling office supplies

1962 Burkard Bovensiepen begins to sell his Neue Klasse ‘Alpina’ tuning kit

1964 Bovensiepen’s modifications get BMW approval, retaining manufacturer’s warranty

1965 Office-supply firm is sold, Burkard Bovensiepen sets up his own company of eight employees

1967 Distinctive logo adopted (r)

1968 Alpina enters the European Touring Car Championship

1969 The firm moves to Buchloe, taking exclusive rights to its name

1970 Alpina claims ETCC and German Hillclimb Championship titles, plus the Spa 24

1971 Buchloe takes charge of the development of BMW’s 3.0 CSL E9

1975 A dealership network is created

1977 Dieter Quester wins the ETCC; Alpina stops racing to focus on its roadgoing models

1978 First complete cars are offered: B6 2.8, B7 Turbo and B7 Turbo Coupé

1981 Modified 318i wins the Shell Kilometre Marathon for fuel efficiency

1983 Alpina becomes a manufacturer in its own right. Sytner granted exclusive UK rights

1987 An early adopter of catalytic converter technology, the firm enters an M3 so-equipped in the German Touring Car Championship. Withdraws from racing once again the next year

1989 Launches its fastest road car to date, the B10 Bi-Turbo, to mark its 25th anniversary

1993 Switch-Tronic automatic gearbox with manual control from the steering wheel unveiled

1999 First diesel performance car, the 5-Series E39-based D10 Bi-Turbo Alpina, is launched

2002 Enters the US market with its Switch-Tronic version of the BMW Z8 E52

2003 B7 saloon gains a supercharger (below)

2008 A new engineering, testing and development centre marks the biggest expansion in the company’s history

2009 Returns to racing in the FIA GT3 Championship

2015 Celebrates its 50th anniversary with 50 limited-edition cars based on the 5 and 6 Series


 

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Additional Info
  • Year: 1982
  • Engine: Petrol L6 3.5-litre

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