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    Would you choose an #Alpina-B10-E39 over a #BMW-M5-E39 ? Let us know your thoughts below...

    / #Alpina-B10-V8S / #Alpina-B10-V8S-E39

    / #BMW-E39-Alpina / #BMW / #BMW-Alpina-E39 / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E39 / #BMW-M5

    M5 for me. If you like driving, an auto box – no matter how good– will never give you the same pleasure as a manual. JONATHAN GAMA-BARATA

    I've owned a 2002 E39 M5 for 8 years and can't believe the Alpina would touch it... The M5 has loads of extra little touches for those in the know.
    DAVID ASHTON

    I'm biased and would say E39 M5. But a B10 V8S is something special. I'd maybe have both but use the Alpina for spares and chuck the massive brakes from the V8s onto the M5.
    RICKY SADASIVAN

    Well, I own a B10 3.3 and thoroughly enjoy it. It keeps a smile on my face. If I was to change it I would certainly stick with an Alpina and try a #V8 !
    MITS PANCHOLI

    The Alpina. Every travelling toilet roll salesman pounding up and down the M1 has a BMW M5. If you have to do the repmobile thing then it's an Alpina.
    MIKE ROBERTS

    I tried both but prefer the B10 for long trips. More than capable on A & B roads too. I've also done the odd track day. M5 is great too but the #Alpina wins.
    MARK GOLDSMITH
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    / #BMW / #Alpina-B10-3.3-Touring / #Alpina-B10-3.3-Touring-E39 / #Alpina-B10-E39 / #BMW-E39 / #BMW-E39-Alpina / #BMW-E39-Touring / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E39 / #BMW-5-Series-Touring / #BMW-5-Series-Touring-E39 / BMW / #Alpina / #AC-Schnitzer / #Air-Lift-Performance / #Air-Lift / #BMW-E39-Air-Lift

    E39 Touring’s arches swallow the #Alpina-Classics with ease. Lows when you want them, sensible ride height when you don’t.

    RYAN’S E39 ALPINA B10 3.3 TOURING

    I’ve been living a #LIFEONAIR for just about a month now and I’m loving every minute of it. Aside from a very, very angry bunch of Alpina enthusiasts sending me hate mail and calling me out on the Internet, life with the bagged B10 couldn’t be simpler.

    I’d forgive you for thinking that by adding extra airlines and another management system the suspension system might become susceptible to leaks and a bit, well ‘modified’. That’s absolutely not the case and it’s actually much more robust than the OE BMW SLS system. Granted, the BMW SLS only runs on the rear of the car and allows self-levelling to the fixed front axle but the pump size is puny and tank capacity equally small. The two #Viair 444c pumps included in the Air Lift Performance kit are never stretched to fill the two, two-gallon tanks and everything runs at about 40% duty. Thanks to the quality of the Air Lift Performance front bags and leader lines there’s been absolutely no leaks from the get-go. This was helped by the thorough instructions included in the kit that would allow even a relative amateur to install the kit with ease.

    Since the install I’ve covered some 2000 miles in the car and it’s very much been a fi t and forget affair. I’ve only lifted the factory E39 boot floor to show interested parties the trick setup lurking beneath. Driving the car at a sensible ride height, it’s really difficult to identify a difference in ride quality between the Alpina suspension and the Air Lift Performance setup. It sounds crazy, and I’m sure that statement will leave plenty of Alpina lovers chortling and shaking their heads, but it’s true though. Air Lift Performance 3H is such a sophisticated system that it can out-handle even the most coveted BMW suspension upgrade. Now that this car is on air there is no way I would go back to a static setup.

    It’s the flexibility that strikes me the most. It’s already a hugely versatile car; it can carry big loads, has the heart of a true performance car and now it can party with the show crowd while remaining grown up and demure. Likewise, through town it’s possible to drive at a dangerously low height, usually not possible with a pressure-based system. This is because #Air-Lift-Performance-3H continuously monitors pressure and height and adjusts bag pressure to maintain ride height. This means it’s possible to have your wheels mere mm from the arches and not have contact, pretty fun for posing. Parked up at a slammed height the E39 can mix it with the best of them, however park it at ride height and no one is any the wiser. It’s also perfect for visiting the in-laws and avoiding awkward car questions from non-car relatives. For those reasons alone Air Lift Performance 3H is a game-changing suspension system and something I’m certainly pleased I plumped for on this project.
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    RYAN’S ALPINA B10 3.3 TOURING / #Alpina-B10-3.3-Touring / #Alpina-B10-3.3-Touring-E39 / #Alpina-B10-E39 / #BMW-E39 / #BMW-E39-Alpina / #BMW-E39-Touring / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E39 / #BMW-5-Series-Touring / #BMW-5-Series-Touring-E39 / #BMW / #Alpina / #AC-Schnitzer / #Air-Lift-Performance / #Air-Lift / #BMW-E39-Air-Lift

    It’s no secret that the E39 self-levelling suspension (SLS) is the weak link in the otherwise robust E39 Touring package. A quick Google search unveils tales of woe from across the globe, with many owners cutting their losses and reverting back to conventional coil sprung rear suspension. I thought that even if I bought a car with working SLS it would soon fail, so I found one where the owner had already replaced the rear air bag units. This repair was, of course in vain, and the rear suspension still proved to be problematic for him, an excellent haggling point. My plan was to retain these factory rear air bag units and convert the management system to an aftermarket setup with new high flow compressors, increased capacity air tanks and matching air suspension struts on the front.

    An extreme fix you might think, but with the current advancements in air suspension technology it’s actually a worthwhile upgrade over the coveted Alpina suspension that had covered almost 120,000 miles so far. Knowing that Air Lift Performance is right at the cutting edge of air ride management systems with its new 3H, height sensing, self-levelling system I began to dig deeper. I was adamant that I would keep the self-levelling aspect of the suspension but I have to admit, I also wanted to be able to slam the car at the touch of a button.

    The area of East London that I live in is peppered with speed bumps and every flavour of traffic calming device possible, so for an every day car that I wanted to be comfortable, look cool and handle well, the Air Lift kit was hard beat. With both a controller and a mobile app with Bluetooth capability, the Air Lift Performance 3H manifold allows for a huge range of mounting options. This was great news for me; I could take full advantage of 3H technology without modifying the interior of the car to mount the handheld controller. I plan to stow the controller in the centre console of the B10 while utilising the 3H app to make on-the-fly adjustments as I like, perfect for switching from drive height to an extended speed-bump-climbing height. I really wanted a quiet and powerful setup that could easily be stowed away below the E39’s boot floor; I didn’t want it to be obvious that the car was on aftermarket air and wanted a fast-filling setup that retained the whole boot load capacity.

    After speaking with Air Lift Performance’s technical team I opted for dual #444c compressors, both with isolator kits and two two-gallon tanks. The small tank sizes allowed the best chance to squeeze all of the Air Lift components into the spare wheel well. The twin #Viair-444C compressors allow for a fast tank fill and quiet operation, especially when using an Air Lift Performance compressor isolator kit. Keeping with an understated Bavarian feel, I opted for an all-black finish and everything was delivered in super quick time! With everything removed from the car, I started planning the install. Having a good idea of where everything would go I made a base for the components to mount. Luckily, because of the factory self-levelling rear suspension, the car had ample space to create a tidy spare wheel build. I adapted the original #BMW rear air bags to work with Air Lift Performance’s 3H management system and used the factory sensor locations to mount the Air-Lift-Performance-3H sensors. Admittedly it was a little bit of a suck it and see experiment, with a metric to imperial conversion for the air lines being a very interesting challenge. All of the Air Lift Performance products come with step-by-step instructions to guide you through the install so there is absolutely no guesswork required. By following these guidelines, I was able to prepare the components for a hassle-free install. I say I, what I mean is my good friend Steven Doe did.

    He’s already got an Air Lift Performance bagged E21 and his knowledge with air ride installs was invaluable during this process, cheers Doey! During reassembly with the new Air Lift Performance components, we could follow the torque specification chart to ensure a safe and long-lasting install first time around. The same instruction booklet shows the best practice for removal of the OE shock absorbers too, meaning you don’t need a fully equipped workshop in order to install the new system, just basic tools and a general understanding of safe working practices. I can’t wait to show you how this looks aired out, it’s insane!
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    RYAN’S ALPINA B10 3.3 TOURING / #Alpina-B10-3.3-Touring / #Alpina-B10-3.3-Touring-E39 / #Alpina-B10-E39 / #BMW-E39 / #BMW-E39-Alpina / #BMW-E39-Touring / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E39 / #BMW-5-Series-Touring / #BMW-5-Series-Touring-E39 / #BMW / #Alpina / #AC-Schnitzer

    When looking for a new car I had a pretty strict features filter that candidates would have to pass to be eligible to appear in my eBay watch list. They would have to be an estate or 4x4 for load capacity, have an automatic gearbox, a split tailgate and ideally air suspension. Bonus points were given for a smooth and punchy engine that could top 25mpg. Most vehicles fell foul of the split tailgate criteria and when coupled with the other items on the list it began to seem as though it would be nigh-on impossible to replace my overland prepared Land Rover Discovery 3. That is until I began to look at E39 540i wagons…

    These were at the lower end of the budget but a nice Sport version was a very attractive proposition indeed. I’d owned an E39 M5 a few years ago so the E39 platform was already a familiar one. The only problem for me was how common they were. I like to have a car that’s a little leftfield and it’s about this time I got interested in my neighbour’s Alpina B5S Touring.

    This supercharged V8 E61 Touring was very much a wolf in sheep’s clothing, packing 530hp as stock! This was what daily driver dreams are made of and I immediately began to search for Alpina B5 Tourings. I searched and searched, to the point where I thought he was making up the model – I simply couldn’t find one for sale. I did spot a pair of E39 B10 3.3 models however. One was a lot more tired than the other but more importantly both were fitted with what is essentially an over-bored US E36 M3 engine that produces 280hp in the estate body. Best of all, they retained the rack and pinion steering unlike V8 models and ticked every one of the features on my checklist. After seeing both examples for sale I plumped for the better, more expensive of the two, the silver E39 you see in these pages.

    It’s not all been plain sailing for the car so far however, after a baptism of fire at the Forge Action Day at Castle Combe the alternator gave up the ghost. Initially presenting itself as a gearbox fault and intermittent hesitation I feared the worst. Luckily this car was a lifelong Alpina registered car with a paperwork file larger than most of my actual office filing. Thumbing through the clues I noticed it had had a new battery every year for the past few, hinting at a sluggish alternator. After a short AA truck trip to Southampton the car was fixed up at Regal Autosport in under an hour with a new alternator.

    While I was there I decided to check the 280hp claim on its in-house dyno. We were all pleased to find the car made 279hp and sounded great too! This is just the start for the B10 though – I’ve lined up some awesome mods over the next few months and I’ve already installed some retro #AC-Schnitzer-mirrors .

    Perhaps not true to the Alpina bloodline but I’ve always loved the shape, so much so I actually bought them en-route to purchasing the car. Next up is to fix the slightly leaking factory rear air suspension, but perhaps not in the way you might expect…
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