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    THE WILD WEST The first Vollans family touring holiday sees JJ head to Ireland's west coast – the ideal place to test his ‘ultimate driving machine’

    / #BMW-E39 / #BMW-528i / #BMW-528i-E39 / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E39 / #1997-BMW-528i-E39 / #1997 /

    JJ takes his #BMW-528i-E39 to Ireland and then tries to sell it

    OUR DRIVES Tales of running modern classics in the real world

    I’ve been visiting the Republic of Ireland sinceI wasa kid. My mum’s family is from Leitrim on the west coast and we used to spend many a family holiday back in the ‘old country’. My parents moved there permanently about ten years ago when they retired, so I’ve had even more opportunity to visit since. A few times a year we jump on a plane at Stansted and fly to the wild and windy, bog-surrounded destination of Knock airport in county Mayo. It was built after a local saw a vision of the Virgin Mary, who told him to build a shrine. Honest– that is genuinely the reason.

    Since becoming a father back in April, I’ve noticed that any trip now involves a lot more luggage (try getting a travel cot through hand luggage!). So when I had a week's holiday recently, we decided to forego the stress of the departure lounge and go on a full-on touring holiday. Two of my cars – the Mercedes 190E 2.6 W201 and the BMW 528i – were ideal for this long- haul journey, providing the right mix of high-speed motorway comfort and tight handling on the much slower, twistier roads on the other side of the Irish Sea. On this occasion, the BMW got the nod.

    I love the rugged beauty of the Atlantic coast. Looking out to sea, knowing that the next landmass is America – 3080 miles away – is humbling. The mountains rise straight out of the sea, the lochs are lined with spruce forests and every village or town is full of welcoming pubs with roaring fires, bottomless Guinness, great food and the inevitable ‘craic’. For me, Ireland in the winter takes some beating – every icy shower merely provides an excuse to find another cosy bolt hole.

    This rugged rock clinging to the very edge of Europe also has some of the best driving roads anywhere within the British Isles. The World Rally Championship acknowledged this by adding the north-west of Ireland as a round during the 2007 season. A lot of the stages took in some of my favourite routes around my ‘second home’, the town of Sligo. Standout routes included a lap of Loch Gill and a final stage finish on the top of the cliffs at Mullaghmore.

    Before departing for Ireland, the 5 Series was treated to a refurbished #ZF-steering-rack , new radiator and – most importantly – a fresh set of Michelin Cross Climates. These top-tier, award-winning wet-weather tyres are designed specifically to grip in all weathers. BMWs of any era aren’t known for their grip in adverse conditions, so I gave Vintage Tyres a call to see what they recommended. Although the Michelins cost £171 each, I reasoned that leaning on the brakes up in the mountains and ploughing straight on could end up costing a lot more.

    It was a good call; the fighting-fit 5 Series on these exceptional tyres proved an ideal combination. The pre-dawn run over to Wales to the ferry, driving over the Pennines in torrential rain, instantly reassured me that I’d made the correct choice. On the motorway, these tyres are quiet and smooth, gripping even when the road resembled a river. Once in Ireland, they dealt with the drizzle and mud better than any rubber I’ve ever put on a classic #BMW . And in the dry, they keep up the astonishing grip without sacrificing noise levels.

    THANKS TO… Vintage Tyre Supplies Ltd, Hampshire vintagetyres.com 01590 612261 Stena Line – choice of four routes from the UK to Ireland stenaline.co.uk

    Precious metal on the Emerald Isle. Michelins showed off their wet-weather superstardom. Thanks for the advice, but… Sparkle in the rain. About as busy as the beaches ever get in these parts Little margin for error on these roads, so vicelike grip is reassuring. Don't worry, gorgeous – Nathan didn't come on this trip. Wild west hero: 5 Series purred its way around deserted coast roads. The contented look of a man en route to his next Guinness.

    BMW 528i E39
    Year 1997
    Acquired Feb 2017
    Mileage 137,000
    Costs £684 on tyres
    Other cars 1984 VW Scirocco Storm
    1987 Lotus Esprit S3
    1990 Mercedes 190E 2.6
    1990 VW Golf GTI 16v
    1992 Range Rover 3.9
    1998 Peugeot 306
    1999 Alfa Romeo GTV
    2000 Mazda MX-5 MKII

    ‘SOME OF THE BEST DRIVING ROADS IN THE BRITISH ISLES’
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    BUYING GUIDE #BMW-520i-E28 , #BMW-525e-E28 , #BMW-525i-E28 and #BMW-528i-E28

    Buying Guide All you need to know if you’re looking at a smaller-engined version of the classic E28 5 Series.

    The E28 is fast becoming an appreciating classic and if you want one to enjoy on a regular basis, it’s the six-cylinder non-M versions you should be looking at… Words: Simon Holmes Photography: Dave Smith.

    It’s hard to imagine that BMW started work on the second generation of 5 Series some six years before it was launched, but there was good reason for the pre-planning. The previous E12 had been hugely successful and BMW was keen to maintain the lead it had pulled on its rivals. However, when the E28 arrived in the UK in early 1982 it was immediately criticised for its conservative styling that didn’t seem to look a whole lot different from the previous model launched some nine years before! But although the two models shared the same roof pressing, virtually every other panel, part and component was different and improved upon.

    For a start, the E28 platform was lighter, lower and more aerodynamic. It featured a shorter wheelbase and the suspension incorporated a double-pivot design at the front, borrowed from the E23 7 Series. At the rear, there was an improved axle design to increase both stability and ride comfort. Comfort was also a focus inside, as the seats were bigger and the rear cabin space increased for both headroom and legroom. The dashboard was also angled towards the driver and double door seals reduced road noise.


    Electronics played a bigger part this time round, as an on-board computer and a new sophisticated Service Interval Indicator were introduced, along with other optional, modern day luxuries such as power steering, central locking, electric windows and ABS. Power-wise, the E28 was launched with a number of engines ranging in size, all of which were carried over from the E12, but modern upgrades such as fuel injection ensured they were up to scratch. The straight-six range started with the 520i, powered by a fuel injected 1990cc ‘small-block’ #M20B20 engine, producing 125hp and 122lb ft of torque. This equated to a 0-62mph time of 11.8 seconds and a top speed of 115mph when connected to the standard manual gearbox. Next in the six-pot family came the #BMW-525i , which was fitted with the larger ‘bigblock’ M30 engine #M30B25 . Capacity was up to 2494cc and power output increased to 150hp and 159lb ft of torque, which produced a 0-62mph time of 9.8 seconds with a top speed of 125mph, again with the manual transmission option. Last up, fitting in before the more sporting M535i model was the #BMW-528i , which again used the larger M30 engine. In the 528i, the #M30B28 2788cc unit produced a gusty 184hp and 177lb ft of torque, which offered impressive performance thanks to a 0-62mph time of 8.4 seconds and a top speed of 134mph. A five-speed manual gearbox was standard but on all six-cylinder cars there was also an automatic option. At first, this was a ZF3HP three-speed transmission but that was soon replaced with an updated four-speed #ZF4HP in 1983.

    By #1984 , BMW was forced to address a demand by the public for more fuel-efficient models. This is where the 525e entered the picture. The ‘e’ designation stood for ‘eta’ and the model was based upon the American-spec #BMW-528e that had been introduced a year-and-a-half earlier. The #BMW-525e featured a unique 2.7-litre version of the ‘small-block’ M20 engine, fitted with a new Bosch fuel injection system for more accurate control of the engine, which improved performance and emissions. Power was down to 125hp but with 177lb ft of torque to match and in the UK it was only available with the four-speed automatic. This affected performance, which was listed as 0-62mph in 12.2 seconds with a top speed of 118mph.


    Other enhancement updates followed in the final years of the E28, and in #1985 the #BMW-520i received a mild revamp that saw an improved fuel injection system increase engine output to 129hp and 128lb ft of torque. To accompany the changes, the axle ratio was also lowered for manual transmission cars and low profile tyres were added for the first time. In 1986, the 520i was upgraded to discs at the rear, bringing it in line with the rest of the six-cylinder cars that already had them as standard and the interior received some minor changes across the range. A majority of cars from this time until the E28’s end were equipped with the ‘Lux’ specification pack, which included alloy wheels, electric windows and mirrors, central locking and a sunroof.

    The E28 outsold the previous E12 but the styling quickly aged the car, which meant its lifespan wasn’t as long as its predecessor. Production ended in #1987 after a six-year worldwide run to make way for the replacement E34 model.


    Buying one

    As a classic car to live with and enjoy on weekends, the E28 is ideal. It’s modern and practical enough to actually use whilst still feeling decidedly retro. And if you plan on using it regularly, then the six-pot cars make more sense than the less torquey four-pot, as the silky smooth engines suit their character. Plus they are usually better spec’d.

    If you do want one, be aware there aren’t many to choose from, so be prepared to make compromises rather than deciding on a particular model, in a certain colour. Also consider that there’s not a whole lot of difference between the 520i and 525e in terms of performance, it’s only the 525i manual and 528i that feel notably faster than the other models. You should be buy based on the condition over anything else. There is plenty to check so make sure you’re up to scratch and always take the car on a testdrive. An E28 that feels unresponsive and tired, both in terms of engine power and general handling, will indicate how well it’s been looked after and loved. Look for proof of that, too. A car that’s 30 years old should have a good amount of history to show it’s been treated well.

    Price-wise, it’s hard to find a working six-pot E28 below £1500 now. Decent cars that are in good shape will easily cost double that, so budget as much as you can or if you’re limited, at least be prepared to take on a car in need of work. At the top end of the scale, we found a mint looking 528i with 51,000 miles for a shade under £9000.

    Interior

    The E28 wears its miles well, although the driver’s seat bolster tends to wear at high miles. A specialist trimmer can repair them but it’s not cheap. The other option is to find a good replacement, which is hard to do, although it helps that E30 3 Series seats bolt straight up to the E28 runners. With some modification the later E34 5 Series seats can also fit. Over the years, the sun can fade the parcel shelf colouring and crack the top of the dashboard. Both can be either repaired or replaced.

    Electrics are your next problem, so find out if everything works as it should. Slow or seized electric windows or mirrors will be down to either the motors or switches and these can both be cleaned and lubricated, which usually brings them back to life. Sunroofs can seize through lack of use, while a broken heater is more likely to be a faulty matrix or valve. If the central locking is showing signs of dying then check and replace its control module that is fitted in the driver’s side A-pillar.

    More serious issues can occur with the instrument clusters. If the service indicator is dead then there’s a good sign that other gauges will soon follow if they haven’t already stopped working, as the cluster incorporates a battery that corrodes and damages the circuit board its mounted to. The earlier, pre-1986 cluster boards cannot be repaired, so a good secondhand one has to be sourced, but supply is drying up. Later, face-lifted clusters can be repaired. The faulty cluster will also tend to knock out the OBC and, eventually, every other gauge.


    Steering and suspension

    There are plenty of reasons why an E28 might feel a bit vague, lifeless and tired when it comes to the handling and steering side of things. This tends to ruin the feel of the car but it can usually be cured relatively simply and cheaply.

    Starting with the rear, if there’s a light knocking noise when pulling away or if the car has fishtailing tendencies at speed, then the axle beam bushes are most likely worn and it will slowly get worse. However, it’s quite a tricky job to replace them unless you have the correct tools and it’s always worth fitting high quality replacements that will last. If the car experiences wheel hop or a harsh vibration when pulling away quickly, then the trailing arm bushes will need replacing.

    At the front end, TCAs wear out, as do the bushes fitted to them and a shudder when braking is a sign they are on the way out. A knocking noise when moving the steering wheel at stationary indicates the Pitman arm bushes or tie rods are worn. A light rattle when driving is more likely to be worn anti-roll bar bushes. Worn ball joints are a little more serious as, left to get worse, they can cause further damage to other components, so any strange handling tendencies should be investigated immediately.

    Another common fault that makes the car drive badly is the steering box mount failing, which causes a terrible wayward feeling from the front end. Although the mount can be welded back in place, it can break again, so it’s advisable to add a reinforcing locating dowel at the same time. Last of all, dampers often get tired and corrode if they haven’t been replaced in a while. Even if they aren’t leaking fluid it’s worth replacing them if they look a bit dilapidated, as the spring cups have been known to rot and fail, which is dangerous.

    Transmission and drivetrain

    The manual ‘boxes are near unbreakable, even after huge miles, but they can begin to feel a little loose and tired after time. This is due to worn linkages, selector shafts and bushes. Replacing these will make the ‘box feel tight again. Often just replacing the gear stick bush alone will cure most of the slack feeling, but it can be tricky.

    The ZF auto ‘boxes are generally pretty reliable units but they require regular fluid changes to remain in tiptop state so look for evidence of this in the service history. Otherwise, high mileage begins to kill them and the torque converters can also fail. Both the manual and automatics are prone to leaking a little oil, which is usually caused by faulty selector shaft and/or output shaft seals. #ZF4HP22 / #ZF3HP

    Elsewhere, the transmission, diff mounts, propshaft centre bearings and couplings all tend to perish over time, creating ‘donk’ noises and vibrations at low speeds. Also make sure that the clutch master cylinder mounting bracket is in one piece as they are known to break.


    Engine

    Both the M20 and #M30 engines are very strong but they do require regular maintenance, especially as they get older. Oil changes are recommended every 6000 miles and coolant should also be changed regularly. The #M20 engine in the 520i and 525e uses a timing belt and this should be changed every 50,000 miles or so, though as these cars get older it seems popular to change them even more regularly than that. It’s always worth doing the water pump at the same time as it’s far more accessible with the belt off.

    The M30 engine in the 525i and 528i uses a timing chain instead of a belt, and it shouldn’t need replacing unless, for example, the engine has done 300,000 miles and it sounds rattly. The plastic chain guides are worth replacing if the engine is apart, though.

    If either engine has a hesitant idle then check for corroded vacuum lines first, before moving on to air-flow meter and the cold start valve. If there’s a smell of fuel either in the cabin or under the bonnet then it’s likely the fuel tank is leaking where it meets the filler neck, or the fuel lines are beginning to corrode, which doesn’t cost much to replace but take time.

    Other than that, it’s the cooling system on any E28 that needs close inspection. On the testdrive make sure the temperature gauge doesn’t read erratically. It should go up to and remain around the halfway point, even in traffic. If it does show strange signs then the viscous fan is the first place to look; make sure it is engaging and disengaging as it should. Then it’s time to check the radiator as these tend to corrode and then leak from the end caps. Also check that the hoses and expansion tank haven’t perished and are leaking coolant as, although it’s fairly rare, this could kill a headgasket.

    Wheels, tyres and brakes Secondhand E28s tend to wear either their original wheels, alloys borrowed from another model, or aftermarket replacements. As long as they fit properly and are in keeping with the car then it doesn’t make much of a difference. Be aware, though, that any wheel wobble at speed could be linked to the wheels and tyres, no matter how good they look.

    While you’re inspecting the wheels it’s always worth checking the tyres closely, both front and rear, as odd wear patterns are a certain indication that something is wrong suspension-, chassis- or steering-wise.

    When it comes to brakes, there are a few common faults. The calipers tend to seize over time, dragging on the disc. It this happens it will require a refurb to make them new again. A faulty master cylinder can also cause dragging brakes, and is likely to be the main culprit for a poor pedal-feel, too. Brake lines are known to corrode and replacing them front to back is a tricky job but should improve a lifeless brake pedal, as will lubricating the linkage to the master cylinder. If the ‘brake’ icon ever illuminates on the dashboard whilst braking then it’s most likely that the brake booster or power regulator, known as a ‘bomb’, is at fault. Warped discs will cause a brake judder, which will start at high speed but can get worse.

    Finally, there’s the ABS system, if it has one fitted. The easiest way to check if it does is by looking for the ‘anti lock’ or ABS light on the dashboard, or the ABS pump under the bonnet, although the washer fluid bottle hides it quite well. When you start engine the anti lock/ABS light should come on and then go off again quickly. If it stays on, or if goes out and then comes back on when you’re driving, it means there is a problem. It’s most likely to be the trigger rings, located in each of the hubs. These often rust up and so simply cleaning them with a wire brush can cure the issue. Otherwise, it could be down to a faulty sensor, pump, or control unit (which is located above the glovebox).


    If the anti lock/ #Bosch #ABS icon is on the dashboard but the light doesn’t come on at all then the bulb has been taken out or the entire ABS system has been removed. The latter is fine to pass an MoT still, the former is not, so physically check for the pump, control unit and sensors.

    Bodywork

    As you might expect with an ’80s #BMW , rust is a major problem so it’s wise to inspect any #BMW-E28 vigilantly. That’s because most of the worst rot comes from the ground up, so get a good look underneath the car if you can. Look for crunchy-looking jacking points and sills. Then check the front floorpans where they meet the bulkhead and inner sills. Ideally, lift the carpets on the inside on both sides. If this is not feasible then just feel if it’s damp. This will indicate if the drainage holes are blocked (and further possible rot) or possibly there’s a broken heater matrix.

    At the rear, the axle mounts are prone to corrosion, which is costly to repair. Also check the rear panel around the numberplate lights, lock mechanism and below the tail-light area for bubbling paint, as this means rot is coming though. Then open the boot and look for signs of moisture. Both the bootlid and taillight seals are known to fail, leaking water into the boot area which will damage the carpet, trim and electrics. Inspect the boot floor and then take a look inside the spare wheel well for signs of corrosion. Working forwards, the doors can rot at the hinges and from the bottom up, as can the front wings – and this can continue along the lip of the arch. Up top, the sunroof panel can rot and any corrosion around the A-pillars and scuttle panel is particularly bad news as repairs here are complex and costly. Under the bonnet, rot can begin in between the inner wings and strut tops, again often due to blocked drainage holes. Finally, the plastics and any chrome work as these bits are hard to find and expensive to replace, if missing or damaged.

    Verdict

    The E28 is fast maturing into a BMW icon, and whilst the M5 models are already there, the more basic six-pot cars are becoming more sought after. Prices are on the up and the days of buying a tidy car for a few hundred pounds have long gone.

    There are plenty of things to look out for when buying one, but mechanically, there’s less to worry about as virtually everything is easy enough to sort. But getting into a full restoration of the bodywork quickly becomes time-consuming and wallet deflating so buy the most rot-free one you can find. That’s no reason to avoid an E28, just source a car wisely and enjoy it as a practical and wellpriced modern classic whilst you still can.


    E28 520i
    ENGINE: Straight-six, SOHC
    CAPACITY: 1990cc
    MAX POWER: 125hp
    MAX TORQUE: 122lb ft
    0-62MPH: 11.8 seconds (14.4)
    TOP SPEED: 115mph (111)


    E28 520i post-1985
    ENGINE: Straight-six, SOHC
    CAPACITY: 1990cc
    MAX POWER: 129hp
    MAX TORQUE: 128lb ft
    0-62MPH: 11.4 seconds (13.3)
    TOP SPEED: 118mph (114)

    E28 525i
    ENGINE: Straight-six, SOHC
    CAPACITY: 2494cc
    MAX POWER: 150hp
    MAX TORQUE: 159lb ft
    0-62MPH: 9.8 seconds (11.9)
    TOP SPEED: 125mph (121)

    E28 525e
    ENGINE: Straight-six, SOHC
    CAPACITY: 2693cc
    MAX POWER: 125hp
    MAX TORQUE: 177lb ft
    0-62MPH: 12.2 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 118mph

    E28 528i
    ENGINE: Straight-six, SOHC
    CAPACITY: 2788cc
    MAX POWER: 184hp
    MAX TORQUE: 177lb ft
    0-62MPH: 8.4 seconds (10.8)
    TOP SPEED: 134mph (129)
    Figures in brackets for automatic
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    Jay Leno
    1979 BMW 528i E12 in flawless.
    Original state - jewellery for men.

    "The colour was at first getting used to - exterior and interior green. We slept one week about it then bought and the car without a test drive."

    The gemstone Amazonite, even Amazon stone called, is a light to dark green Mineral variety of microcline from the mineral class the silicates, more precisely a tectosilicate from the group of feldspars. Well, still awake? But what is really this Wikipedia ramblings? Now, the sparkling paint of here featured 528i goes by the name "Amazonit Green Metallic" and is - as the whole Rest of the car - a classic top-class.

    "My E12 was developed by 1979-1991 in Cuxhaven moved. It came just 40,000 km together. Probably he was from first owner only on weekends moves."


    No question: This gem of Peter Boehm from Hattingen one sees only gladly. That was also the Jurors ADAC so - it voted the 5 Series as part of the Germany Classic 2013, "Concours d'Elegance" winner in the class of vehicles built in 1961 and 1981. They are right, the experts from the General German Automobile Club. Because of this 528i is just awesome. Is it because of his low total mileage of just 63,000 kilometres? To the devotional care by the former and the present Owner? Or the fact that the 5 Series no tuning excesses had to go through? Certainly a mixture of everything. As the BMW was first registered on March 1, 1979 was he the top model of the series, when the M-versions once outside before leaves. Already in February 1978 to be built Predecessor produced 177bhp - the six-cylinder in Peter Boehm 528i makes 184bhp.

    "Actually, I wanted a Fiat Dino or Mercedes-Benz W124 Coupe buy, but the most deals were craft stalls. Since I do not own garage I came in just a little good condition in question."

    Six million 5 Series from Dingolfing On April 16, 2013, a BMW 530d xDrive F10 rolled off the assembly line - the six millionth BMW 5 Series from Dingolfing production. And there was even more celebrate: In September 2013, the BMW Dingolfing plant was 40 years old. 8,727,367 vehicles were running by then from the tapes. The first was a red lacquered BMW 520. At the time, the 5-day production was in Dingolfing at 350 vehicles, the factory employed 5,000 people.

    1973: installation manager Hans Wallner (left) presented CTO Dr. h. c. Hans Koch Key for the first 5 Series "made in Dingolfing ".

    2013: Employees the Dingolfinger Flanking plant one of the first and six millionth 5 Series, both in "Her work" originated.

    "At the International BMW Veterans Reunion in Bad Aibling we are the Wendelstein up. Before the hairpin bends I have the downshifted automatic ZF manually - it does otherwise only, if you are strong gas."

    The history of the #BMW-E12 is a very interesting: He was the first BMW, who among the people came under the name "5 Series". The caused at the beginning of a language problem: The 5 Series, the 520, has not been referred to by many as "Five Twenty", but as "five hundred and twenty." To the BMW-savvy people to bring the correct pronunciation in detail, it was decided be in Munich to the "5" represent slightly larger as the "20". This went on until the beginning of 1974 so, after that wore the 5er again identical large type numbers.

    The 528i was pure understatement. From its weaker motorized brethren the top model differed externally only chrome, dual exhaust tailpipes. The actual difference did the 2788 cc six-cylinder. He turned to the basic versions rather leisurely car into a true-sport sedan.

    Today is the #BMW-528i E12 - almost extinct - in modern state. Our quick check promoted in a mobile portal only 12 copies to days. Of perhaps reach three nearly the quality of Peter Boehm's car. Real Jewels for men are just rare.
    Text: Bernd Bartels. Photos: Ulrich Holzel.

    "We do not drive the car constantly to the low mileage yet over the next save years."
    "The award ceremony by ADAC was a total Surprise. I had been wondering why permanently Jurors to my car ran."

    REPORT FACTS #1979 #BMW-528i-E12

    Engine: R6, Code letter #M30 #M30B28 big-block, 2788cc, overhead camshaft, Bosch electronic fuel Injection
    Power: 184bhp at 5800rpm, 240Nm at 4200rpm
    Transmission: 3-speed automatic transmission #ZF made / #ZF3HP / #ZF3HP22 type
    Suspension: front independent suspension with stabilizer, rear trailing arm axle with stabilizer
    Brakes: disc brakes all round (Series)
    Rims: 14 inches #BMW aluminium Rims
    Tyres: Fulda ASSURO, around 195/40 R14
    Body: four-door sedan in its original condition,
    Paint in "Amazonit Green Metallic"
    Interior: original interior in "Fern Green ", Bavaria S Radio, green sun protection glazing, central locking.
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    POWERHOSE ALPINA #1986

    Now imported into Britain the Bavarian #Alpina-B9 -3.5 is a blisteringly fast version of BMW's Five Series #E28 saloon. In its performance the car simply has no peers.

    The world's fastest production saloon comes from Bavaria. At a glance, the four-door powerhouse looks very much like a humble 118mph #BMW-518i-E28 . but when the throttle is opened, this inconspicuous metamorphosis of a Five Series BMW will instantly blow off any five seater rival - from Munich's own #BMW-745i-E23 , through the #Mercedes 500SE #W126 to Jaguar's XJ 5.3 HE. On an empty stretch of road, preferably dry, the car will top an honest 153mph (that's it, one hundred fifty-three) with the tachometer needie nudging the redline at 6100rpm. The lair of the performance giant is in the picturesque village of Buchloe halfway between Munich and the Tyrolean border, where a performance car addict called Burkard Bovensiepen has devoted himself to the production of very special motor cars named Alpina. But now, there’s a brand new British connection. BMW (GB) have just begun importing Alpina converted cars, plus Alpina parts and accessories, and Sytners, the Nottingham dealers, are to build and retail the cars. This first model, the B9, costs £22,894, and will be sold here at a rate of about 40 a year, something which will ensure the B9’s exclusivity.

    Alpina’s latest creation wears the full model designation B9-3.5. Burkard Bovensiepen explains: ‘We used "A” to cover our development of BMW's small fours, and B labels the modified sixes. The figure ‘‘9" denotes the ninth improvement we made to this unit, and 3.5 of course, indicates the engine capacity.'

    The #Alpina-E28 B9-3.5 is based on a BMW 528i #M30B28 fitted with a revised big-bore 3.4-litre slant-six #M30B34 BMW engine that is also used in the #735i #E23 saloon and in the #635CSi #E24 coupe. In true #Alpina tradition, the standard BMW engine undergoes thorough modifications, in the course of which the power output is increased from 218bhp to a very effective 245bhp at 5700rpm. ‘Top priority is more torque, better acceleration and a significantly higher top speed', marketing manager Gunter Schuster explains, ‘but the one thing we did not want to end up with was some nervous, pseudo racing car powerplant that would inevitably be hit by reliability problems and excessive thirst, would be difficult to service and too fragile for everyday use’.

    Bovensiepen, who hates being called a mere car tuner, and engine specialist Wolfgang Siebert together set out to breathe new life into the engine without affecting its longevity and serviceability, but with the ambitious aim of at the same time increasing the power output and improving the fuel economy. The engines getredesigned camshafts, the compression ratio is raised from 9.3 to 10.2 to one, their special, balanced pistons have a quench zone for superior thermodynamic efficiency, and the cylinder head with its hemispherical combustion chambers, like the inlet manifold, are shaped and polished to make the gases flow more freely. Other modifications include revised fuel injection settings and minor changes made to the #Bosch #Bosch-Motronic engine computer that monitors fuel feed, ignition and exhaust emission.

    ‘While many so-called tuning firms often just attend to the engine without touching the rest of the car, we don’t do anything by halves,' Bovensiepen claims.

    ‘Like all our products, B9-3.5 has uprated suspension and a redesigned interior.’ To teach the basic #BMW-528i better road manners and to attune the chassis to the extra potential of 61bhp more than standard, suspension expert Alois Wiesinger fits progressive-rate coil springs, specially developed adjustable #Bilstein gas-pressure shock absorbers and 16in alloy wheels, shod with fat 205/55VR #Pirelli P7 tyres at the front and with even wider 225/50VR rubber behind. To improve wet road traction, a limited-slip differential with a 25percent locking ratio is installed. The long-legged Getrag five-speed gearbox is taken unchanged from the standard production model: a three-speed automatic is optional.

    Although the 'basic' B9-3.5 is a vastly understated car that can only be distinguished from its mass-market brothers by its wider wheels and tyres, most buyers opt for the full Alpina trim pack which includes a prominent front spoiler, a black rubber lip on the bootlid and several feet of contrasting stripework stuck on the flanks, which gives the car rather boy- racer looks. According to Alpina, the aerodynamic aids are ‘an absolute necessity’, which help redTjce the aerodynamic drag factor by 9.0 percent, increase the top speed by 6.0 mph, cut front axle lift by 57 percent and rear axle lift by 4.0 percent. The spoilers are also claimed to have a positive effect on the car’s exceptional high-speed fuel economy. The Alpina B9-3.5 returns 37.7mpg at a steady 56mph and 30.9mpg at a constant 75mph, but even with the speedo indicating 125mph-plus wherever possible, the 245bhp Bavarian bullet will better 20mpg. Our hard- driven test car averaged an astonishing 24.1mpg over several hundred miles.

    Inside, the Alpina B9-3.5 feels far sportier and more purposeful than a standard #BMW-528i-E28 . The well-contoured bucket seats and the rear bench are trimmed in the ‘house colours' - black, blue and green. The tacho and speedometer wear Alpina logos, the dished, rather big-diameter standard steering wheel is replaced by a four-spoke leather-rimmed device, and an anodised vehicle identification plate mounted on the dashboard identifies the test car as the 20th B9 to leave Alpina, ‘makers of exclusive automobiles’. Standard equipment also includes a sophisticated sound system, tinted glass, electric door mirrors and a rear axle oil cooler. Extra cash can buy any option listed in the official #BMW brochure; such goodies as ABS anti-lock brakes, air-conditioning or electrically operated windows.

    Without extras, a B9 sells in Britain at a premium of £7400 over the already-expensive #E28 #BMW-528i-SE . ‘I know that our cars are not exactly cheap,' Gunter Schuster concedes, 'but Alpina cars do offer a unique combination of performance, prestige and exclusivity. Our production capacity is limited to a mere 200 cars per year, and less than half of those will be sold abroad. At present, our export efforts concentrate on Switzerland, France, Japan and Britain. The UK will soon be number one export market for us.’

    When you first sit in the relatively confined cabin of the B9, the environment is not as familiar as expected. The firmly- padded seats have little in common with the soft velour- trimmed originals. Alpina's own buckets seem to wrap your torso in a cocoon, minutely adjustable in rake, reach and height. The heavily-modified engine under the short, square bonnet sounds alien, too - marginally less civilised than the #528i unit, it answers all throttle inputs during warm-up with a hoarse, growl, impatiently awaiting the departure from city limits. The quick steering is ideally weighted to cope with really fast motorway esses and zig-zagged country lanes. In town, however, it feels a bit slow and slightly heavy, and it takes a firm hand to keep the car on course when longitudinal ripples make the fat wheels tramline. The handling is tough and precise, not sharp or nervous. Quickly and willingly the Alpina turns exactly where it is pointed. Treated decisively but with due respect, the Alpina is close to the perfect partner - responsive, precise, fairly docile; never acting on its own initiative.

    This obedience makes the #Alpina-B9-3.5 reassuringly safe, even at very high speeds. Stability and imperturbability are perhaps the two qualities which impress most. Even at 140mph the big saloon will cut through motorway bends with surprising ease and unerring precision. Back off and brake to stay clear from an overtaking truck, and there will be no drama: the rear end may go a little light while the nose is pressing into the road, and you may have to reduce lock an inch to maintain your chosen line, but that is all the car will need. The body remains composed and stable, trusting the chassis to sort out the conflict of forces. The fact that bump steer is virtually absent and that the camber changes are minimal also pays off on really bad roads tackled at speed. Here the #B9 doesn't even pretend to be a comfortable car- what the suspension cannot absorb is transmitted faithfully to steering and seats - and occupants- butthe reactions and reflexes of the chassis make up for it, by tying the car firmly to the ground when others would have lifted wheels.

    Like the model it is based on, the Alpina oversteers at the roadholding limit. But compared to a standard Five Series BMW, the car from Buchloe has enough oomph to hang its tail with superb control where its tame brother rolls and lurches rather more.

    The B9 can be pushed sideways with power, even in third or fourth gears, and in the wet, any overdose of torque needs to be administered with extreme caution. I remember drawing enormous black marks on the road in second gear when a nudge of the throttle promptly kicked the back out in the middle of a tightish corner - exciting, spectacular, but expensive and, ultimately, slow. I tried the bend faster and in third and, voila, the car bounded through on the edge of a well-behaved four-wheel drift, smooth and faster. The rear wheels broke eventually, when I floored the accelerator, but the control was very satisfying. It takes some time to get attuned to the Alpina's behaviour at the limit, indeed to actually locate precisely where the limit lies. At that stage, the owner will admire and respect the car's abilities in full.
    Put your mind to it. and the big Alpina will rush from 0 to 60mph in 6.8sec and in under 18sec from standstill to 100mph. Floor the throttle when lazily strolling along in fifth at 40mph. and the car can be doing 75mph in 15sec. Rev the engine to 4500rpm in first and second, and the maximum torque of 231lb ft will spin the fat P7s with ease. The Alpina B9 is a high performance car, but it is neither a rowdy handful only macho men can tame, nor a perfectly neutral, totally domesticated tool for beginners. It is a blend of both characters - competent, fast, and a lot of fun. What irony that the most desirable BMW saloon was not conceived by the original manufacturers themselves.

    Alpina B9 buyers can have car in standard BMW trim or go the whole hog with spoilers and side stripes. Alpina say first are necessity.

    Cabin is distinguished by sporty trim on seats, #Alpina logos on dash and four-spoked steering wheel. Much modified version of BMW 3.4-litre six replaces standard 2.8-litre engine under bonnet, pumps out 245 bhp at 5700 rpm for genuine 153 mph top speed. 6.8 sec 0-60mph. Engine flexibility is excellent, economy remarkable.
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    Automatically breath taking!

    Howard Walker finds B-road joy in Alpina’s B9 — a car that starts life as a #BMW #528i #E28 , gains a 3.5 litre, 245 bhp engine ( #M30 B35 ), ZF four-speed automatic gearbox ( #ZF #4HP22 ), reworked suspension and chunky P72 en route to a motoring paradise that’s never in danger of turning into Valhalla.

    The treatment is subtle and under-stated — refreshing in a world of catch-me-if-you-can body kits and pearlescent paintwork. Just a deepish nose spoiler and fine-ribbed alloy wheels; items which almost go unnoticed on roads where cooking hatchbacks come similarly clad.

    And the BMW 5-series itself reaches pinnacles of understatement with its now staid, razor-edged lines and growing old looks. A piece of stockbroker belt machinery if there ever was one.

    You hardly notice the B9 badging on the bootlid and for the grey morass of commuter motorists it would have no meaning anyway. Sheep's clothing for a mean wolf indeed, for this low-key exterior is pure camouflage for one of the most potent pieces of machinery around.

    The #Alpina-B9 is super fast, super powerful with its 3.5 litres of BMW straight "six" hidden beneath that familiar bonnet line. And with the suspension and brakes to match its projectile performance, the B9 could be the ultimate in sporting saloons.

    The grapevine has it, though, that BMW itself is about to pull the wraps off its own highly-potent 5-series, the #M535i E28 which should debut at the Birmingham NEC Motor Show in October and hit the streets early next year.
    Yet it won’t be the first time the lusty 218 bhp 3.5-litre "six" from the #635i #E24 and 735i E23 models has been shoe-horned into the engine bay of the smaller #5-series . Back in #1980 . BMW sold around 200 of the old-style #535M #E12 s in Britain alone.

    But the factory's decision to get back into the "big banger" performance market with the M535i could well have been prompted by the huge success of Herr Burkard Bovensiepen's #Alpina tuning operation and his version of the 3.5-litre 5-series.

    Alpina's B9 3.5 went on sale in the UK just over a year ago with the cars being built to Alpina's specification by the Nottingham BMW dealer and tin-top racer Frank Sytner. But despite the expected arrival of Bee-Emm's own 535i. Sytner is not too worried for there is one subtle difference between the Alpina version and the factory's car — and that's a solid 27 bhp. While the M535i is likely to come with a more-than-ample 218 bhp driving its rear wheels, the B9 flexes more muscle with its tuned 245 bhp.

    Motor got to grips with the first Sytner-built B9 back in March last year and came away highly impressed with its staggering saloon car performance — top speed 142 mph and 0-60 mph acceleration in 6.4 sec — and superb road manners. That was with the five-speed manual version. We certainly couldn't let the opportunity go by of assessing the latest version of the B9 to emerge from Nottingham fitted with ZF's highly commended four-speed automatic.
    As you might expect, the price of performance and individuality comes high. In automatic form, the B9 would set you back a hefty £24,095 which seems a little on the steep side when judged against the well-stacked 1984 E28 #BMW-528i SE automatic at £16.925 or the larger #735i #E23 at £19,395. For the same kind of outlay, you could also be looking at an #Audi Quattro (£20.402 – #1984 in GB) or a 1984 #Jaguar #Sovereign V12 (£21,995 - 1984 in GB) and still come away with a pocketful of cash.

    So what do you get for your investment? The answer is quite a lot. The B9 starts its life as a standard 528i built on the factory line with the only mechanical changes being the fitting of the more robust #ZF four-speed auto 'box used in the 635i plus a limited slip differential. It is then shipped to Nottingham "where Sytner's merry men haul out the engine and replace it with an Alpina- prepared 3.5-litre unit.

    The engine itself comes with an Alpina cylinder head incorporating hemispherical combustion chambers; Mahle domed-topped pistons; a high-liftcam; and larger valves. Out goes the Bosch L-Jetronic injection which is replaced by the more sophisticated Bosch LE-Jetronic system and Bosch digital ignition. There are also new manifolds and a dual system exhaust to allow the gases to flow better. In standard form, the 3.453 cc unit fitted to the 735i E23 turns out 218 bhp at 5,200 rpm with peak torque of 228 lb ft at 4,000 rpm while running on a 9.3:1 compression ratio. In Alpina form, the torque is only marginally improved to 236 lb ft at 4,500 but the power goes up to a useful 245 bhp at 5,700 rpm with the engine running on a 10.2:1 compression ratio.

    While the engine is being sorted out, the Bee-Emm's suspension is worked on. Out go the standard springs and dampers to be replaced with #Bilstein damper units front and rear, Alpina's own prcgressive-rate coil springs at the rear plus thicker front and rear anti-roll bars. And to keep the B9 firmly glued to the asphalt, chunky #Pirelli P7 tyres (205/50 VR 1 6 on 7J front rims, with 225/50 VR 16 on 8J rears) are fitted. A limited slip differential is also standard as too is ABS braking.

    While the top speed of a car like the B9 may be academic to velocity- restricted British drivers, it's important for us to check the maker's claims. The problem with the Alpina E28 was that every time the throttle was floored in order to time a flying lap around the Millbrook high-speed bowl, the B9's automatic gearbox tried its damndest to kickdown from fourth to third. So we came away with a recorded top speed of 131.9 mph, not badby any means but there was more still to come. The German built B9s use a long 2.93:1 rear axle ratio and reach maximum speed in third gear. The manual version we tested last year reached a maximum of 142.2 mph.

    There was no such problem with standing start acceleration runs, the B9 scorching from rest to 60 mph in 7.2 sec (6.4 sec for the manual) and on to 100 mph is 17.8 sec (16.2 sec) with 1 20 mph coming up in 27.4 sec (26.8 sec). Equally impressive is the car's kickdown performance with the 30-50 mph increment being covered in 2.4 sec and 50-70mph is just 3.6 sec. To put this all into some kind of perspective the 5.3-litre #Jaguar-XJS-HE reaches 60 in 7.5 sec and covers the 30-50 and 50-70 mph increments in 2.9 and 3.5 sec respectively. That means the B9 can more than match the acceleration of the Jaguar while a #Porsche #928S auto lags behind both of them.

    That's quick and on the road these figures translate into the kind of performance that starts the adrenalin pumping and the palms sweating. At low revs and in slow driving conditions the urge from the engine is good rather than impressive, but find a clear road and bury the throttle in the carpet and the B9 comes alight. The real power is up past the 4,000 rpm mark when the engine takes on a glorious, powerhouse note that's a delight to the ear of any enthusiast —there's no roughness, just smooth efficiency which changes little in quality right up to the 6,500 red line and beyond. It pays to fix your eye on the speedo for the ease at which the B9 increases speed can put a licence
    under serious threat. At 120 mph the B9 puts so little strain on the driver —so smooth and refined is the engine —that it almost becomes a chore to keep to the legal limit on the motorway.

    And the automatic transmission certainly doesn't dilute the B9’s on- the-road performance. So responsive is the kickdown, so smooth are the changes that for the majority of our testers, it actually enhanced driving pleasure. The change down characteristics are such that the ZF 'box almost anticipates which gear is needed and it changes up so smoothly if you are forced to lift off suddenly, like aborting an overtaking manoeuvre."

    With so much performance under your right toe, economical driving techniques tend to go out of the window — after all, if you want economy you go and buy a Fiat Uno. Viewed in this light, the 18.7 mpg overall fuel consumption isn't excessive and on long motorway journeys with the four-speed ZF 'box locked into top. most drivers should see well over 20 mpg.

    As it stands our figure compares with 17.9 mpg for the manual B9, 21.6 mpg for the standard 528i E28 and 18.3 mpg recorded for the heavier 735i E23.

    With 33 per cent more power on tap. the suspension changes are much appreciated. Standard 528i Bee-Emms come with quite a bit of body roll and an annoying characteristic of the inside back wheel spinning all too easily on a bend even in the dry.

    On the B9, uprated springs and dampers and beefier anti-roll bars have cut down the roll and made sure all four "boots" stay firmly in touch with the road. The trade-off comes in the ride quality which is now much more firm than standard, though the B9's ride is like floating on air com-pared with that of the #Alpina-C1 3- series BMW #E30 we tested recently.

    Around town, the Alpina's suspension feels firm and thumpy over small bumps, but it smooth’s out the faster you go. Considering the extra power provided, the ride quality is certainly an acceptable enough compromise.

    But the B9 shows its true mettle when you point it in the direction of a twisty B-road. Talk of understeer and oversteer is almost meaningless in the context of the grip available from those sticky P7s. In the dry the cornering balance is basically neutral with just the right degree of stabilising understeer to make the B9 feel safe and predictable. The chassis shrugs off mid-bend bumps and even cutting the throttle provokes nothing unruly to catch out the inexperienced. With so much power available, more care has to be taken in the wet -B too much throttle mid-bend can send the back end slithering out of line. But that said, the effect is undramatic and not usually terminal. The steering, although power- assisted, has a direct meaty feel which communicates plenty of information back to the driver, allowing tail-out slides to be corrected swiftly and with precision.

    The beauty of the B9 is that it allows a flowing driving style which was certainly not possible with the Treser-prepared #Audi-200 (1984 C3) we tried recently which never let the driver forget, that its front wheels were being driven.
    Standard 528i brakes are retained with ventilated discs at the front, solid at the rear but with the addition of BMW's superb ABS anti-lock braking system, the set-up is powerful and progressive though the pedal does feel rather spongey arid dead in its action. In the wet, ABS is simply worth its weight in gold, taking the trauma out of hauling the B9 to a halt.

    Part of the Alpina conversion includes ditching the standard 528i front seats in favour of superbly-l shaped, body-hugging Recaros. And they really do a great job, offering more than enough lateral and lumbar support. Yes. they are on the firm side but all of our testers found them superbly comfortable. The drawback is that they come trimmed with the most horrible gunge green and yuck blue striping which sinks to new depths of bad taste. More bad news: the rear seats are trimmed in the same cloth. Despite the fitting of the Recaros, there is still a surprising amount of rear seat legroom available which fulfills the B9's role as a true four-seater sports car unlike many of its rivals.
    Other Alpina "goodies" include a classy leather-bound steering wheel! which looks and feels good but does in fact mask the top of the instruments; and Alpina logos on the horn push and gear lever knob. Also standard are electric windows, central door locking, an electric steel» sunroof, remote door mirror adjustment and headrests on all seats, front and rear.

    Judged in terms of price alone — particularly when set against a standard 528i — the B9 does appear expensive. But what price exclusivity? The fact that Sytner has to take a standard car apart and virtually rebuild it does prove extremely expensive particularly when the volumes are low. That said, the B9 does offer truly remarkable performance coupled with superb road manners and in automatic form must be a highly tempting proposition for the well-heeled enthusiast who spends a lot of time driving in town. We loved it.

    Still photographs taken at the recently completed Chelsea Fields Trading Estate. Western Road, London, SW19 - letting agents Bafley Cox & Edwards (01-729 3859)

    ROAD TEST BMW ALPINA B9 3.5 AUTO

    PERFORMANCE
    MAXIMUM SPEEDS B9 mph mph 528i E28 manual
    Banked Circuit See text 129.8

    ACCELERATION FROM REST
    B9 528i
    mph sec sec
    0-30 3.1 2.8
    0-40 4.2 4.3
    0-50 5.1 6.0
    0-60 7.2 7.7
    0-70 9.1 10.6
    0-80 11.4 13.2
    0-90 14.2 16.6
    0-100 17.8 22.0

    Standing km 28.9 29.4
    In In
    kickdown fourth
    mph sec sec
    20-40 2.4 8.7
    30-50 2.4 8.6
    40-60 3.0 8.1
    50-70 3.6 8.1
    60-80 4.2 8.3
    70-90 5.1 8.1

    80-100 6.4 8.9

    FUEL CONSUMPTION
    Overall mpg 18.7 21.6
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