- Post is under moderationCUSTOM 2002 Metal wide-body with a 2.7 swap.
Bought in a state far beyond saving, the only way this #BMW-2002 could survive was to be transformed into something completely different.
SHOW, NO SHINE Custom, wide-body 2.7 2002 / Words: Elizabeth de Latour / Photos: Matt Richardson
It feels like we maybe we should be apologising, again, because for the second month running we’re featuring a 2002 that a lot of people are going to find upsetting. But we won’t be, because we like it too much to care what anyone else thinks. It’s unapologetically a personal project, built solely for the pleasure of its owner, Josh Parker, to hone his skills and then show them off. From top to bottom, inside and out, everything you see before you has been crafted by Josh’s own two hands, with a bit of help from dad along the way, which makes this already spectacular 2002 even more so.
Josh has always been into cars, he tells us, and it all began at the tender age of 12 when he was given a petrol-powered R/C car and building that set him on path he walks today. After passing his test he was chomping at the bit to get modding on something, though insurance restrictions meant he had to make do with an R56 MINI JCW, spiced up with some coilovers and other bits until he could make his dream of doing a full build come true. The fact that he had no mechanical or motorsport experience was not going to stop him and there was no practice run or warm up before getting this car, he went straight from 0-2002.
“I bought the car in Thame just over three years ago,” explains Josh, “and it was awful,” he adds, laughing. “It had been off the road since 1989 and was in terrible condition, completely rusty, but because of that I only paid £1200 for it. It took two years to put it together, though in its first form it had a different engine, Golf arches and different wheels. Starting out, I knew nothing about welding or anything like that,” he says, “so the first step was getting it on the road and then, having developed my skills, I knew I could do everything better the second time around so 18 months ago it went through a big change,” and the result of that is what you’re looking at here. “The fact that I wanted to do everything on the car myself was a big influence on how the car has come out, “ he explains, “as I went my own way with it. I spent a year making the chassis strong and replacing stuff. The car was a blank canvas, it was so bad I couldn’t make it any worse,” he laughs. “The whole car looked like Swiss cheese, but at least I got to practice welding. The whole project has been hard, though, it’s taken a long time as I was starting from nothing. I spent a lot of time doing individual things, weeks at a time, and sometimes I needed to take a break, step away, but I never gave up.
“My decision to change how the car looked came about when I realised that too many people were doing Golf arches, it wasn’t low enough and that I didn’t like the wheels. I decided to pick the wheels I wanted and then built the new, custom arches around them and doing that meant I could go for a really aggressive offset. I chose a set of 7Twenty Style44s in bronze, 9x15” ET0 all-round with 215/50 tyres; I didn’t want too much stretch but needed a bit to get the wheels to tuck under the arches.” The resulting fitment is absolutely perfect, but even with that zero offset Josh is still running 20mm spacers up front and 10mm at the rear, taking the final offset well into the negative. The wheels themselves are certainly handsome, single-piece items with stepped lips and plenty of dish, while the matt bronze finish looks great against the car’s patchwork quilt bodywork.
Where Josh felt the car wasn’t low enough before there’s no such concern now, with Gaz coilovers delivering a serious drop, but that wasn’t enough for him… “I’ve raised the front and rear strut towers by 40mm to lower it even further,” he grins and the end result is spectacular, the tyres disappearing up into those magnificent arches and the 2002’s belly sitting a hair’s breadth above the ground. The arches themselves are custom metal items measuring a monstrous 60mm wider per side up front and 50mm per side at the rear, giving this 2002 a stance far beyond its diminutive dimensions.
The brakes have also been comprehensively upgraded, with four-pot Wilwood calipers mounted on custom carriers up front with 260mm drilled and vented discs along with E21 323i hubs, while at the rear you’ll find Mk3 Golf rear calipers matched to Mk1 Golf front discs while Hel braided brake lines have been fitted throughout. You might think that all that brake work seems like overkill for a 2002 but you see it isn’t, because there’s something a bit special going on under the bonnet.
“I always knew I was going to do an engine swap,” Josh tells us, and what he’s done is taken a low-revving, M20B27 eta engine from BMW’s 325e and 525e models, designed for efficiency, and comprehensively reworked it to better suit his performance-driven needs. Sitting on custom engine mounts, the once-docile 2.7 has been transformed with a 325i top end, M21 forged crank, forged, reground stage one cam, Alpina B3 2.7 chip, a honed intake manifold, 185cc injectors and Magnecor ignition leads. He’s also fitted an M50B25 radiator and added a custom six-branch exhaust manifold that connects up to a custom 2.5” exhaust with twin pipes. It’s an impressive list of mods and it makes for some impressive numbers, with the 2.7 now pushing out 240hp thanks to Josh’s handiwork, which makes this 2002 a real road rocket. Naturally the transmission required a bit of work to make sure it was up to the task of dealing with the 2.7’s grunt and Josh was more than happy to get his hands dirty. “The gearbox itself is a Getrag 260 Sport five-speed on custom mounts with a stage one clutch and I’ve also fitted a 3.64 small case LSD from an E21 with custom-drilled output flanges.”
The exterior might, at first glance, appear to be a mess to some but there’s a lot more going on here than first meets the eye. The arches steal the show but there’s also a custom front lip and a custom drag spoiler, custom bash bars and a back-dated rear panel that allowed Josh to fit the arguably much cooler round rear lights. One of our favourite parts of the exterior work, though, is the quick-release front clip, that allows for the entire front end to be removed in a matter of minutes. While it’s designed to allow easy access to the engine for mods and maintenance, seeing a car driving around with no front end is pretty cool. With a race car-inspired exterior you’d expect the theme to carry on inside the car, and you’re not going to be disappointed here. “This car was originally a Lux model,” explains Josh, “so it had a nice, powder blue interior though when I bought the car it was smelly and had started to rot, but I always knew that I was going to strip the interior, I just wanted to have the bare essentials to have the car running,” and he’s certainly stuck to that philosophy. About the only part of the interior that is still recognisable is the ’02 dashboard and instrument cluster but beyond that it’s all change. There’s a big convex Longacre rear-view mirror, single Cobra Sebring Pro seat with a TRS four-point harness, a Momo Model 69 suede steering wheel and a custom switch panel, custom pedal box and there’s also a hydraulic handbrake and a custom dual fulcrum short shifter. “I wanted to feel like I was in a Touring car,” explains Josh, “so I wanted the wheel high and close and a tall gearlever close to the wheel. The cage is actually a historic-spec one for the ’02 that I bought and then modified to make it stronger,” explains Josh. “It just bolts in but I want to make a new cage for it, eight-to-ten point, fully welded-in, which is one of my next big plans.” Meanwhile, in the boot you’ll find a 30-litre aluminium fuel tank with a surge tank, which is fed by one of the two Bosch 044 fuel pumps, the other feeding the engine.
As much work as has gone into this car over the past three years, it’s only the beginning of what is going to be a much longer journey and Josh’s plans for the car are numerous and substantial. “I want to do a front-mid-engine conversion,” he says matter-of-factly, “I’ve come this far so I might as well keep going,” he laughs, but that’s just scratching the surface. “I’m currently working on a secret E30 project and that’s going to pave the way for the 2002. I want to make the car more useable and more reliable, but no less crazy,” he grins. “I want to iron out the bugs, modernise the underpinnings to make it more enjoyable; for example, currently if I’m taking it to a show and it’s too far, I will trailer it, which takes away from the experience and I want to be able to drive it everywhere.” All this work isn’t just for Josh’s amusement, though, it’s for the benefit of his company, Under Development Motorsport, and some of what he’s made will be for sale there, like his short shift kit. “It’s billet and should fit everything from E21s to E9x models,” he says.
This 2002 is really an automotive expression of sheer joy and you can feel how much love and enthusiasm Josh has for this car when you talk to him about it. “It’s great to drive something that gets so much attention and that you genuinely built yourself, it’s just a great feeling,” he says with a smile. We can’t wait to see where he takes the ’02 and judging by what he’s achieved here so far, that E30 is going to be something really special too…
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Wide-body 2.7 #BMW-2002 / #Alpina-B3 / #Alpina / #BMW-2002-Wide-body / #BMW-2002-Alpina / #BMW-2002-Alpina-2.7 / #7Twenty / #BMW-2002-E10 / #BMW-E10 / #BMW / #BMW-2002-Alpina-E10
ENGINE 2.7-litre straight-six #M20B27 eta / #BMW-M20 / #M20 / #M20B27ETA , M21 forged crankshaft, stage one cam, #Alpina-B3-2.7-chip , #K&N cone filter, honed intake manifold, #Magnecor ignition leads, custom engine mounts, 185cc injectors, custom stainless six-branch exhaust manifold, custom 2.5” exhaust with twin blast pipes, fully silicone-hosed cooling system, M50B25 radiator
TRANSMISSION #Getrag-260 / #Getrag five-speed manual gearbox, stage one clutch, custom gearbox mounts, E21 3.64 small case #LSD with custom-drilled output flanges
CHASSIS 9x15” ET0 (front and rear) #7Twenty-Style44 wheels in matt bronze with 215/45 (front and rear) Toyo TR1 tyres, #GAZ-GHA coilovers with adjustable top mounts, #GAZ front camber plates, front and rear strut towers raised 40mm, custom front anti-roll bar relocation and drop links, fully poly bushed and reinforced front and rear subframes, custom rear subframe camber and toe adjustment plates, custom gearbox and exhaust tunnels, reinforced sills and various other chassis bracing throughout, rear strut tower brace, Wilwood four-pot calipers and custom carriers with 260mm drilled and vented discs and E21 323i hubs (front), Mk1 Golf front discs with Mk3 Golf rear calipers and custom caliper carriers (rear), Hel braided brake lines (front and rear)
EXTERIOR Custom metal wide arches, custom front lip, bash bars, custom drag spoiler, custom racing livery, back-dated rear panel work to allow for round rear lights and fuel filler cap delete, custom quick release front clip for fast removal of front-end
INTERIOR #Cobra-Sebring-Pro seat, TRS four-point harness, #Driftworks quick release hub, #Momo model 69 suede steering wheel, custom dual fulcrum short shift, hydraulic handbrake, custom pedal box, sixpoint bolt-in cage, custom switch panel, 30-litre aluminium race tank in boot with surge tank and twin #Bosch-044 fuel pumps
THANKS Graham, Nicola and Hannah for all the support! All the @76build Instagram followers, all the other people showing love for the 02 and last but not least Thierry and Lewis at www.7twenty.co.uk. Cheers guys.
“From top to bottom, inside and out, everything you see before you has been crafted by Josh’s own two hands”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationFully Converted #Alpina-B3 3.3
The story behind one man’s love affair with his delightful Alpina B3 3.3 Convertible. Alpina’s E46 B3 was an excellent alternative to BMW’s M3 and the owner of this example was so smitten by the car that he changed jobs to become even closer to the brand. Words and photography: Matt Richardson.
A buyer of a BMW convertible has already made the decision that they don’t want a run-of-the-mill car but to step up to something better. Then there are those like Dan Edwards who just want something with a touch more exclusivity.
Not to be confused with an aftermarket tuning or styling house, Bavaria-based Alpina has come a long way since its start as a typewriter builder. The company’s first involvement with BMW was in 1962 developing Weber carburettors for the then-new 1500. It has since evolved and expanded and today is a bespoke car builder that works so closely with BMW that since 1983 has been recognised as a manufacturer in its own right. Its cars are now sold alongside the machines they are based on in BMW dealerships.
Alpina offers an alternative to BMW’s M Performance division with the emphasis on luxury and exclusivity rather than speed, not that performance or handling are neglected. With a highly tuned hand-built engine up front, power is dispensed very differently to the more aggressive delivery of an M car.
The son of a serial BMW owner (his father John has had 16 3 Series and more than 25 BMWs in total over the years), it’s no surprise that Dan’s first car was a BMW – a red E36 316i which soon wore a set of Alpina wheels, or so he thought until he discovered only the badges were real. Ten more BMWs followed, the latter being performance models and convertibles, often tweaked to make them a little more special. A Phoenix yellow E46 M3 Coupé became a CSL replica, which he made the mistake of swapping for an AMG SL55 which proved so unreliable it was sold for another BMW very quickly.
Eventually a similar but less well spec’d Mystic blue Alpina E46 B3 came on to the scene. Driving this 3.3-litre machine he found exactly what he’d been looking for in all the cars he’d been through. He’d already fallen for the looks of the E46 3 Series and with Alpina’s additional styling cues and the different power delivery, the overall feel of the car took hold and Dan started to form a bond with the brand, so much so that he took a job with Sytner BMW to work more closely with the cars. Another unexpected bonus Dan found was that it was cheaper to insure than an M3 or a modified car. However, he foolishly sold the blue B3 and immediately regretted it, so the hunt was on for another.
With nothing on the horizon, and a BMW-shaped hole in his life, Dan told his dad he “might just pick up another old M3 and do it up”. However, in July 2015, before finding an M car, he chanced upon this 2002 B3 3.3 at a sports car specialist near Birmingham who had taken it in part exchange.
This car couldn’t have been better; in Japan red with a perfect black hood and a removable hard-top the car looked stunning and had a good history. The last owner had owned it for seven years, and being the sort of car that attracts an enthusiastic owner, it was easy to track it down on web forums and get a good idea of the B3’s history. It looked like it had been a second car used by the owner’s wife and had needed little more than regular maintenance and a repainted bumper and bonnet to tidy up stone chips.
The basis of the B3 was BMW’s 328i, but that was just the starting point. The original chassis number was scribed through and a new Alpina number was stamped beneath it on the suspension turret. This may lead the uninitiated to think something untoward has gone on, but the new number is on the V5. Other underbonnet changes were more significant.
The M52 from the 328i was replaced with Alpina’s own motor, based on the BMW #S52B32 which in turn started life in the US-spec E36 M3. This USmarket engine was developed after the European M3’s #S50 engine failed to meet American emissions tests and where it made 240hp, it had in turn been developed from a standard 328 unit.
With a slight increase in capacity over the previous E36 generation’s 3.2-litre engine, Alpina continued to develop the straight-six to the 3.3-litre as found in this car and as a 3.4-litre incarnation later in the B3’s life thanks to an increase in bore. In this latter guise the B3 had an ‘S’ moniker to denote its additional power. The grey cast iron block gave excellent rigidity and retained the standard 86.4mm cylinder bore. Thanks to Alpina’s own crankshaft, the stroke was increased to 93.8mm which gave a total capacity of 3300cc.
With the goal of achieving a high-revving and very smooth motor, lightweight pistons reduced movement of free mass and a new camshaft helped the motor to rev cleanly to 7200rpm.
Alpina’s own air box, intake and performance exhaust system completed the package which now developed 280hp at 6200rpm. Even more impressively, the torque figure rose to 247lb ft at 4500rpm. This was ideally suited to the five-speed ZF Switch-Tronic automatic gearbox, with which the driver can either shift gears using buttons mounted on the steering wheel or let the gearbox do all the work. This combination gives effortless cruising, riding on that wave of torque its acceleration feels effortless and the car can manage 0-62mph in only 6.9 seconds, and charge on to 158mph.
Alpina also lowered the suspension, allowing the 18-inch 20-spoke wheels to fill the arches more fully. After 13 years of use, however, the distinctive trademark alloys were starting to show some wear, so Dan had them refurbished in-house at Sytner where he works, and they look brand-new again.
Alpina interiors offer more options for personalisation than the standard BMW brochure. When this B3 first drove off BMW dealership Blue Bell Wilmslow of Cheshire’s forecourt in March 2002 the new buyer had opted for Anthracite Buffalo leather seats at £3325. They also chose to have matching Buffalo leather covering on the centre console and transmission tunnel for a further £680.
Something Dan was particularly pleased with were the Alpina roundels in all four seat backs, a nice touch which was only available with the Buffalo hide which added £150 to the invoice. The on-the-road price totalled £45,810 – significantly more than a standard M3 Convertible.
Red rhomboids were embroidered in the doorcards and on the steering wheel which had matching red hand-stitching, all coordinating with the paintwork and the red piping on the seats. Dan hasn’t had to do much to the car since buying it, but the driver’s seat piping and bolster were worn, so vehicle trimmer Trim Tech repaired the piping and recoloured the driver’s seat, matching it to the rest of the interior.
In case the rumble of the larger exhaust was not enough company on a long drive, a Harman Kardon hi-fi system upgrade was specified, along with a #BMW six-CD auto changer, an accessory that has gone from being highly desirable to interestingly retro in a remarkably short space of time.
A final touch inside the car, a silver-plated production plaque mounted on the dashboard above the glovebox showed this car to be B3 cabriolet number 234, making it very exclusive with production ending later that year in 2002.
Now he has the car to how he wants it, will serial car flipper Dan be swapping his B3 for something else? “No, this is a long-term keeper,” he laughs, and although he might not be parting with this car, it’s unlikely to be his last Alpina.
TECHNICAL DATA #2002 / #Alpina-B3-3.3-Convertible-E46 / #Alpina-B3-3.3-Convertible / #Alpina-B3-3.3-E46 / #Alpina-B3-E46 / #Alpina-B3 / #Alpina / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-E46-Alpina / #BMW-E46-Convertible /
ENGINE: Straight-six, 24-valve
MAX POWER: 280hp @ 6200rpm
MAX TORQUE: 247lb ft @ 4500rpm
0-62MPH: 6.9 seconds
TOP SPEED: 158mph
PRICE (NEW): £45,810
With a highly tuned hand-built engine, power is dispensed differently to the more aggressive delivery of an M car.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationBUYING GUIDE #BMW-E90 #BMW-E91 #BMW-E92 #BMW-E93 #Alpina-E90 tuning B3 and B3S
All the important things to know about buying an E9x #Alpina-B3 . With plenty of power and performance capabilities that gave the M3 a hard time the Alpina B3 Bi-Turbo was a very special car. Indeed, they still are today… Words: Simon Holmes Photography: Dominic Fraser and Dave Smith.
When the #Alpina-B3-Bi-Turbo burst on to UK roads back in #2008 it came in with a bang. Based upon the 335i, Alpina had transformed an already very capable road car into an M3-chasing monster but with even more diversity and subtlety than its M-badged brother. Plus there was the extra air of exclusivity that comes with #Alpina . The B3 was available as a saloon, Touring, coupé or convertible straight from the off and, typical of Alpina, there was little to give the game away from the outside except for a couple of small spoilers and the classic Alpina wheels.
But underneath there had been plenty of smaller changes that equated to a vastly improved overall package. It helped that the 335i was a good starting base but with room for improvement Alpina began with the engine. Powered by the glorious #N54 3.0-litre straight-six fitted with two turbochargers, in #BMW-335i-E90 form it made a healthy 306hp and 295lb ft. But with more in mind Alpina first of all replaced the pistons with bespoke items from Mahle in order to lower the compression ratio down to 9.4:1. This was to ensure the engine would be able to withstand the extra boost pressure it added, now peaking at 1.1bar. To keep everything running smoothly an additional oil cooler was added to maintain optimum running temperatures, even in extreme conditions. It was then coupled to a modified version of BMW’s six-speed sport automatic transmission, which now included Alpina’s Switch-Tronic buttons located behind the steering wheel to change gear if required.
Power rose to 360hp at 5500-6000rpm and torque was up to 369lb ft over a range from 3800- 5000rpm, some 74lb ft more than an M3, and the engine was happy to rev all the way to the 7000rpm redline. The spread of power also was also very broad and it made 294lb ft as low down as 1300rpm, the kind of power band usually reserved for diesels. On the road that led to sensational performance. 0-62mph came in just 4.8 seconds for the saloon and coupé versions, the same as a manual M3, whilst the Touring took 4.9 seconds and the convertible 5.0, presumably due to their extra weight. As they weren’t limited like BMWs were, top speed was a blistering 177mph for the saloon and coupé whilst the Touring managed 175mph and the convertible 174mph.
Emissions took a little bit of a hit, ranging between 232 and 237g/km, but it was a small price to pay for the level of performance, and when it comes to an Alpina then emissions aren’t one of the first things that comes to mind anyway. Economy is a little more important and all of the models hovered around the 28.8mpg mark as an average, dropping down to the high 19s or low 20s depending on the model, a touch behind a regular 335i.
Aside from the power and performance hike there was much more to the B3, as you would expect. Alpina had spent plenty of time fine-tuning the chassis setup to deliver a superior handling package that was still practical. Uprated springs and dampers were fitted in place of the originals and although the ride was slightly firmer, it was far from harsh or uncomfortable. The ride was helped by the use of softer non-run-flat tyres fitted to the classic Alpina multi-spoke wheels measuring 18-inches in diameter and eight-inches wide at the front and nine-inches at the rear. They were fitted with 245/40/18 and 265/40/18 tyres and 19-inch Classic or Dynamic wheels were an optional extra.
Exterior styling was typically Alpina. There was a small lip spoiler added to the bottom of the front bumper and four exhaust tips emerged from underneath the modified rear bumper. All but the Touring models featured a subtle lip spoiler mounted on top of the bootlid, which finished off the additions nicely.
On the inside the dials were, of course, blue with red needles, as with all Alpinas, and the analogue mpg indicator mounted below the rev counter was replaced with an oil temperature gauge showing from 70 to 170º Celsius. The digital display between the clocks showed a speed readout as well as all of the usual mpg calculations. Alpina logos were fitted to the backs of the seats and the steering wheel featured green and blue stitching, finished with a centre Alpina badge to replace the BMW roundel. There was also a build plaque with an individual build number fitted, too. The price for all this was £44,500, which was a lot of money but then you were getting a lot of car.
After two years of production along came the B3’s replacement. Named the B3 S, it was an evolution of the previous car that seemingly did the impossible by coupling improved performance, power and torque with reduced fuel consumption and better emissions. Based upon the face-lifted E9x range it was available in the same choice of platforms as before. However, whilst BMW chose to move on to the newer, updated #N55 engine, which did away with the twin-turbo setup in favour of a single twin-scroll turbo, Alpina instead decided to stick to what it knew. So the same N54 engine found in the B3 was kept on but further modified. The key changes were to the air intake and filter setup which were redesigned to optimise minimal pressure loss. The exhaust system was also improved to address backpressure and together the modifications effectively allowed air to pass into the engine more efficiently and gases to leave more efficiently. Boost pressure was also slightly increased, again to 1.2bar.
Despite the relatively minor touches the end result was a class-leading 133hp per litre, or 400hp peak at 6000rpm. Torque was also up to 397lb ft at 4500rpm and the same 294lb ft of torque available at just 1300rpm. That equated to an even faster 0-62mph time of just 4.7 seconds and a top speed of a truly staggering 186mph for the saloon and coupé versions. The convertible again trailed slightly behind, at 185mph, but the Touring was quoted as touching 189mph, which were all supercar-baiting speeds not so many years ago.
On the outside the front lip spoiler was of a different design to match the BMW’s face-lifted front bumper and whilst the rear lip spoiler was the same there was now a matching diffuser fitted at the rear underneath the bumper to house the four exhaust tips. The wheels, tyres and interior details remained virtually the same though.
The car didn’t come cheap: a convertible cost a whopping £55,250 back in 2010. The B3 S wasn’t quite as successful as its predecessor, largely due to the D3 Bi-Turbo diesel version now accounting for a majority of Alpina sales. It was replaced in 2013 with the new F3x model.
The E9x range isn’t really affected by rust issues so when it comes to the B3 and B3 S it’s far more important to make sure everything is present and correct. Replacement spoilers are available but they are very expensive and if the car has been in an accident before they may not have been replaced with the correct item, so check carefully. Both the B3 and B3 S models should have an Alpina front lip spoiler below the front bumper although they are different in design between the two models due to the shape of the front bumpers. Check to make sure it’s not damaged as they do lower the car’s front-end ground clearance. There should be a small lip spoiler on the bootlid for all models except the Touring and the B3 will have what looks like a standard 335i rear bumper but with larger cutouts for the four-tailpipes. Only the B3 S has an additional diffuser added to the bottom of the rear bumper. Items such as graphics/stripes can still be ordered from Alpina.
The big concern with buying an Alpina has always been to make sure you are actually buying the real thing and not a replica. It’s a lot easier to tell nowadays than it used to be but you should still make sure you know what you’re looking at as some cars are particularly subtle. Aside from the front and rear spoilers, key signs will be on the inside. Look for the blue dials and an oil temperature gauge in place of the mpg indicator. Make sure the correct Switchtronic buttons and build plaque are there. The plaque is mounted up on the roof by the interior lights. If any of these aren’t present find out why. The other easy way to tell should be by the engine. From opening the bonnet, the B3 should have a badge on the front of the engine cover, and the B3 S will have an Alpina badge in place of the BMW roundel with Alpina Bi-Turbo written on the cover to the right-hand side. It should be obvious from the way it drives, too. On the road, it’s a very fast car and it should feel every bit of it with a pleasant accompanying soundtrack to go with it. Although they are quite heavy cars they hide it well and in the real world they can hold their own against an E9x M3 in most scenarios. The steering is sharp and the ride is still firm enough to be fun but usable on even the bumpiest roads.
Your other big concern when buying a B3 or B3 S will be finding one. As mentioned, the more practical D3 Bi-Turbo was available at the same sort of time and it outsold the B3 by ten to one in some cases. As a result, the petrol versions were rare cars when they were new so be prepared to take what you can get if you want one. The earlier B3 was the more popular of the two but only 111 examples were sold in the UK, made up of 50 coupés, 44 convertibles, 15 saloons and just two Tourings. The B3 S was even rarer and only 43 UK examples were sold, made up of 24 convertibles, 12 coupés, four saloons and three Tourings. Based on those numbers and how rare they are it’s best to have an idea of what model you want, be realistic about how likely you are to find one and then keep an eye on what comes up and be willing to compromise. Price-wise, there are never many for sale but search the internet and specialist forums enough and you should find one or two pop up. The cheapest we found was £18,995 for a 2008 B3 saloon with 57,000 miles on it and some nice options fitted. We also found a 2008 B3 saloon in white with the optional 19-inch wheels and 38,000 miles under its belt for £22,950. Top of the pile was a 2011 B3 S convertible with just 13,000 miles for a wholesome £33,000. If you’re after a Touring be ready to wait it out.
On the road, it’s a very fast car and it should feel every bit of it with a pleasant accompanying soundtrack to go with it.
Alpinas have always been famous for the sometimes extravagant choice of their interior colours, so don’t be surprised if the leather trim is finished in a loud colour, although most of the time it will be black. If the steering wheel is worn or stitching is discoloured you can still order a replacement direct from Alpina, but be warned, it is extremely expensive.
Have a good look over the interior’s general condition; these cars are usually well-looked-after with low mileages but make sure it’s all as it should be and all of the individual Alpina items are in place. Also, make sure the convertible and coupé models hand you the seat belt as you close the door as this mechanism can fail.
Steering and suspension
The suspension setup on the B3 models was specially modified by Alpina and doesn’t use regular #BMW components for the important bits. Instead, it features Bilstein dampers with Eibach springs to give the firmer ride and although most B3 and B3 S models haven’t covered many miles, those that have might find these becoming a little tired now. It’s not hard to get replacements though as these can still be bought direct from Alpina.
Aside from any unusual noises to listen out for there shouldn’t be too much to worry about otherwise, although be aware the stiffer suspension and larger wheels with lower profile tyres will give a harsher ride than you perhaps might be used to, although it’s still good for a sports saloon.
Also, brakes always seem to wear out quickly on the E9x models and the Alpina puts added strain on them due to it enhanced performance, so expect brake wear to be a common occurrence.
Wheels, tyres and brakes
Needless to say all cars came with Alpina wheels and the standard fit items were the multi-spoke Classic in 18-inch diameter with staggered rears an inch wider. Also fairly common were the upgraded 19-inch wheels in either the Classic or Dynamic design, the latter featuring spaced spokes in a star-shaped pattern. All Alpina cars ran Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tyres from new and none were run-flats, so make sure there are provisions in case of a flat tyre as the E9x was never designed to carry one.
Alpina B3/B3S Bi-Turbo
ENGINE: Six-cylinder, twin-turbo #N54B30
MAX POWER: 360hp (400)
MAX TORQUE: 369lb ft (397)
PRICE (NEW): From £46,950 (49,250)
0-62MPH: 4.8 seconds (4.7)
TOP SPEED: 177mph (186)
ECONOMY: 28.8mpg (29.1)
EMISSIONS: 234g/km (224)
0-62MPH: 4.8 seconds (4.7)
TOP SPEED: 177mph (186)
ECONOMY: 291.mpg (29.1)
EMISSIONS: 232g/km (224)
0-62MPH: 4.9 seconds (4.8)
TOP SPEED: 175mph (189)
ECONOMY: 28.5mpg (29.1)
EMISSIONS: 237g/km (225)
0-62MPH: 5.0 seconds (4.9)
TOP SPEED: 174mph (185)
ECONOMY: 28.5mpg (29.1)
EMISSIONS: 237g/km (225)
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