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    Shark Hunting
    CAR: 1981 BMW 323i TOP CABRIO
    OWNER: Sanjay Seetanah

    / #1981 / #BMW-323i-Top-Cabrio / #BMW-323i-Top-Cabrio-E21 / #BMW-323i-Cabrio-E21 / #BMW-323i-E21 / #BMW-E21 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E21 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E21 / #BMW / #M20B23 / #BMW-M20 / #M20 / #BMW / #BMW-323i-Baur / #BMW-323i-Baur-E21 / #BMW-323i-Baur-Cabriolet / #BAUR / #1981-BMW-323i / #1981-BMW-323i-E21 / #1981-BMW-323i-Baur / #Bosch-K-Jetronic

    Have you heard classic BMWs described as ‘sharknose’? Sharknose-era BMWs were manufactured from the 1960s through to the late ’80s and represent a crucial period in BMW’s history. They can be as different as they are similar. Some were built for racing, some were built for families.

    Some featured cutting-edge technology, others were a little more basic. What brings them together is a common design aesthetic. They range from the Neue Klasse models of the ’60s through to the M1 and E28 (the second-generation 5-series), taking in the CSA, CS and CSLs and the earlier 3-, 5-, 6- and 7-series along the way.

    Now the #BMW-Car-Club has introduced a new umbrella group called the Sharknose Collection, and I was delighted to be asked to attend a gathering of cars from this collection to produce a video for the club’s website. As club secretary Richard Baxter says: ‘These cars are now becoming sought after yet finding parts and specialists can be difficult. The Sharknose section of the club aims to give cars and owners a collective platform at shows, to help with parts and accessories, to share technical days, and allow networking with fellow owners.’

    The pressure was on to get my Baur looking as good as possible, given the company that it was going to be with. I contacted Joseph Crowe, owner of Knowl Hill Performance Cars in Maidenhead (www.knowlhill. com), and he obligingly ensured that the car was machine polished to look its best.

    Gathered together for the shoot were some of the very best examples of sharknose BMWs in the UK. In the picture, above, from left to right are Stu and Lizzy Blount’s grey #BMW-E28 / #BMW-M5 / #BMW-M5-E28 , Tony Wilkes’ beige #BMW-E3 , Georg Champ’s red #BMW-2002 , Sam Lever’s blue #BMW-3.0-CSL-E9 , Trevor Gude’s white #BMW-E12 / #BMW-M535i-E12 , my own BMW-323i Baur Top Cabrio and Kos Ioizou’s beautiful red #BMW-635CSi-E24 . I was amazed at the depth of knowledge and passion for the cars shown by all the owners – the future of these classics is safe in their hands.

    The Club is looking for ownership and restoration stories to share in its monthly publication Straight Six and hopes to attract owners of cars not yet known about. Cars from the Sharknose Collection will be on show at several events this year, including Masters at Brands Hatch on 26-27 May; Sharknose Europe at Rosmalen, Holland, on 23 June; Silverstone Classic on 20-22 July and the club’s National Festival on 12 August at the British Motor Museum in Gaydon. There’s more info at and I hope I will get along to at least one or two in the Baur.

    Above and below Sharknose Collection members lined up some of the UK’s finest examples, including Sanjay’s 323i Baur cabriolet.
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    / #1986 / #BMW-E28 / #BMW-M5 / #BMW-M5-E28 / #BMW /

    SOLD FOR: €49,500
    Approx £38,000

    This Alpine white example was a left-hooker and featured a black leather interior. It had benefited from recent work which included new radiator as well as a new set of 16-inch alloys shod with Pirelli tyres. It had done 221,000km and at nearly £40k it demonstrated how coveted the E28 M5s have become.
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    GREED IS GOOD #BMW-Alpina-B7-Turbo-E28 vs. #BMW-M5-E28 #Hartge-E28

    In the 1980s many people had money to burn, and it is thanks to them #Alpina and #Hartge found a ready market for their wild Fives. Words: Bob Harper. Pictures: James Mann.

    Back in the 1980s economies were booming and there were plenty of well heeled individuals who were prepared to pay handsomely for something a little bit more exclusive than your standard #BMW . Although the original #BMW-M5 was not a run-of the mill machine, both Alpina and Hartge offered alternatives which were snapped up by rich businessmen after an individual touch. Given the excellence of BMW's own product, could it be two small but dedicated manufacturers could actually improve on the M5?

    But why is the M5 such an all time great? Firstly it has the sort of performance which in its day was simply staggering. This was the first of the real supersaloons from a major manufacturer, and it can still embarrass many of today's high performance machines.

    Secondly, it handled The #E28 5 Series was often criticised for its wayward behaviour - it was not unknown for the front and rear ends to swap positions without much provocation, and while Munich's M-men were unable to completely eradicate this behaviour, its handling was fantastic. Only a ham fisted pilot would lose an M5. such was its communicative nature.

    Alpina had actually been producing faster fives for longer than #BMW itself.

    The #E12 #M535i was BMWs first attempt at a really quick saloon and was introduced in 1980 to very favourable review. Alpina, however, had had a devastating quick #BMW-5-Series in its armoury since 1978, the E12 B7 Tuftx), which featured a 3-litre turbocharged straight-six.

    Thus when the #BMW-E12 evolved into the #BMW-E28 5 Series, it was a logical progression on Alpina's part to re-manufacture it into a second generation of fire- breathing saloons. The #BMW-E28-Alpina B7 Turbo utilised the latest generation of BMW's big six with a swept volume of 3430cc, but with significant internal changes. There was a modified cylinder head, lighter #Mahle pistons, a new camshaft, a custom exhaust manifold and a #KKK #KKK-K27 turbocharger. Power was quoted as 300bhp at 5800rpm, 14bhp more than the yet to arrive twin-cam engined M5, while torque was way up on the M-car, 331lb ft at 3000rpm, compared to 250lb ft at 4500rpm for the M5.

    It should therefore come as no surprise that the B7 Turbo was quicker than Munich’s finest, I66mph compared to 150mph, and a quoted 0-60 time of 6.1 seconds, compared to the M5's 6.3 seconds. Strangely, very few contemporary motoring magazines tested the Alpina, but the Swedish magazine Teknikens Varfd did strap a fifth wheel to the car, and the figures it achieved makes Alpina's own look somewhat conservative: 0-62mph in £.8 seconds, 0-125mph in 17 seconds and a top speed of 168mph. Even the new M5 struggles to match these results.

    Naturally this level of performance demanded changes in the suspension and braking departments, as well as the fitment of Alpina’s trademark multispoke wheel rims. The suspension featured #Bilstein gas pressure dampers with progressive rate springs, while the brakes were upgraded with #Girling discs, ventilated at the front. Sixteen-inch wheels were shod with 205/55 tyres at the front, and 225/50s at the rear.

    Like other Alpina's, the interior was upgraded with extra instruments, including the company's neat digital readout incorporated into one of the fresh air vents, as well as the trademark green and blue flash on the seats. The steering wheel and gearknob were substituted for Alpina items, and an adjustable boost control was mounted on the centre console next to the handbrake. Externally, there was to be no mistaking the B7 Turbo for a lesser model, its spoilers and decal kit saw to that.

    If the Alpina wore its heart on its sleeve, the Hartge M5 was externally more muted, but that's not to say it was any less impressive. Like Alpina. Hartge had been remanufacturing 5 Series’ for a number of years before it released its ultimate version. Poor to the release of the M5, it too concentrated on the 3430cc unit, modifying the head, fitting a special camshaft and manifold, as well as adding a freer flowing exhaust system. These changes improved both power and torque, to rival Alpina's nonturbo charged B9 3.5 litre models.

    However, unlike Alpina, who always concentrated on the 12-valve units, Hartge decided to base its ultimate 5 Series on the M5. Thus BMW's twin-cam 24 valve 3453cc masterpiece was breathed on by Hartge to produce 330bhp, up from the original's 286bhp. This was achieved mainly via the use of high-lift camshafts and a special exhaust, and the conversion sacrificed torque in the quest for ultimate power.

    Naturally Hartge upgraded the suspension to include stiffer dampers and lowered springs, dropping the car by approximately 25mm. The chassis was further tightened with the adoption of a strut brace between the front suspension turrets, and a set of 16-inch #Hartge classic wheels wearing 225/50 rubber at the front and 245/45 at the rear completed the basic conversion.

    Where Alpina produced a standard car with an options list, Hartge's approach was slightly more flexible. There was the basic conversion, and customers could stop there if they wanted. However, you could add front and rear spoilers to improve high speed stability, a decal set to announce that this was no ordinary M5, and the interior could be fitted with a variety of enhancements from steering wheels and gearknobs to extra instruments.

    Unfortunately, no motoring magazine tested a Hartge M5, but with 330bhp it was no slouch and you can expect the benchmark 0-60 dash to be dispensed with quicker than BMW's standard offering, while top speed was also improved.

    But enough of the history, how do the cars compare today? To find out we took a #1984 #Alpina-B7-Turbo and pitched it against a remarkably standard looking #1987 Hartge M5. The Alpina shows its intent straightaway with its deep front air dam and stripes leaving you with no illusions that this is going to be a quick car. The Hartge on the other hand is far more discrete, and, as 'our' car was entirely debadged, a quick glance could easily mistake it for a 518i on a tasty set of alloys, one would believe this car can frighten virtually any supercar you choose to name.

    Despite the different methods employed to achieve their power outputs we expected both cars to behave in a similar manner - all or nothing. The Alpina has massive reserves of torque, but below 3000rm when the turbocharger has yet to spin in anger we thought it would be flat in the extreme. Similarly, the high lift cams of the Hartge should produce low rev lethargy with high-end frenzy.

    In reality things were quite different Put quite simply, the performance of the Alpina is awesome. At low revs it feels quicker than say an M535i, but when the turbocharger kicks in it really does force you back into your seat as if you were strapped into a jet fighter at take off. You find yourself constantly slewing down, just so you can speed up again to provide yourself with another adrenaline buzz.

    The Hartge delivers in a different manner. This particular car has had some changes made to its engine management control unit to eradicate a flat spot at around 2000rpm and to provide more midrange torque, and it is estimated it now has in the region of 280lb ft at one's disposal. Where a standard M5 takes time to get going, the Hartge flies from the word go.

    There is no noticeably step in its delivery, with the rev counter needle simply flying round to its redline, allowing you to repeat the process in the next gear. On first acquaintance it doesn't have the immediate kick of the Alpina, but a quick glance at the speedo reveals it to deceptively quick. The only drawback is its real urge comes at the sort of speeds where the authorities tear up your licence and throw away the key.

    Subjectively, the Alpina feels the quicker car in a straight line, but once some challenging bends are thrown into the equation, the tables start to turn in the Hartge's favour. This is in part due to its lower stance and more overtly sporting set up. Like the standard M5, the steering is wonderfully communicative, providing plenty of feel and feedback, allowing the car to be precisely placed in bends. Crip is of the highest order, better than both the Alpina and the original M5. The linear nature of the car’s power delivery also helps to inspire confidence when pressing on, as you know it is not going to suddenly come on cam mid bend.

    In a straight line the Alpina's power delivery is its trump card, but when it comes to cornering it becomes the car's Achilles heel, particularly on a damp road It is not wayward in its behaviour, but you have to make sure you don’t make the transition from no boost to full boost mid-bend. The steering is direct and has a meaty feel to it, partially the result of having a smaller diameter wheel. It is by no means as stiffly sprung as the Hartge, so there is a lot more bodyroll to accompany spirited comenng. It grips well enough, but is not as composed as the Hartge.

    Once again, the tables are turned when it comes to ride quality. The Hartge has a much firmer ride, which deteriorates quite markedly on poorly surfaced B-roads. On smooth roads it is fine, but passengers are likely to complain if you take to the back roads. The #Alpina is a more comfortable companion in terms of ride, a payback for its less than perfect cornering manners.

    While much of what came out of the 1980s should be confined to the history books, we have to say we are delighted that the decade's culture of greed prompted such fine machinery as the Hartge M5 and the Alpina B7 Turbo.
    As a complete package, the Hartge is hard to beat. It has staggering performance, excellent grip and its handling inspires confidence. The Alpina is slightly rougher round the edges; its power delivery could certainly catch out the unwary, but despite this flaw its spoilers and stripes sum up the era better than the discrete Hartge. Of the two cars, it is the one that lingers in our minds. The B7 Turbo's performance is addictive and as we handed back the keys we knew withdrawal would be painful.

    It should there-fore come as no surprise that the B7 Turbo was quicker than Munich’s finest

    Hartge utilise M5 standard gearbox... while Alpina uses a dog-leg #Getrag box.
    No badge makes #BMW-E28-Hartge a real Q car .
    At least you know what passed you.
    No one would believe this car can frighten virtually any supercar you choose to name.
    Two variations on a theme. Turbo or multi-valve #M88 or #M30 . Both offer huge performance. #BMW-M5-Hartge-E28
    Neat digital readout shows boost pressure and temperature.
    The Left-hand drive only Alpine's cockpit typical of the era.
    Classic, simple 16-inch rims. Hartge-version on the left. Alpina's on the right.
    Hartge interior is more sober, but M5 spec is comprehensive.
    The Alpina's looks leave you in no doubt this is a serious performance machine.
    Hartge’s lower stance ensures excellent grip and inspired handling.

    #E28 #BMW-M5 - #Alpina-B7-Turbo - #Hartge-M5

    Engine 24 valve - 12 valve, Turbocharged, - 24 valve
    Capacity 3453cc - 3430cc - 3453cc
    Stroke/bore 84x93.4mm - 88x92mm - 84x93.4mm
    Power 285hp @ 6500rpm - 300bhp @ 5800pm - 330bhp @ 7000rpm
    Torque 250lb ft @ 4500rpm - 331lb ft @ 3300rpm - 280lb ft @ 3600rpm

    front 225/50 ZR16 - 205/55 ZR16 - 225/50 ZR16
    rear 225/50 ZR16 - 225/50 ZR16 - 245/45 ZR16

    Maximum speed - 153mph - 167mph - 160mph (est)
    0-62mph 6.3 seconds – 4.8 seconds – 5.5 seconds (est)
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