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    #Maserati V6 engine - #Citroen #DS rally
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    All original #1986 #BMW #E28 #535i SE RHD UK-spec
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    All original #E28 #BMW #M535i #1987
    • "Heated" sedan BMW M535i E28 (1985-1987 ) Was different from the usual "five-E28" décor and the list of options was "automatic gearbox ZF4HP22". Relea"Heated" sedan BMW M535i E28 (1985-1987 ) Was different from the usual "five-E28" décor and the list of options was "automatic gearbox ZF4HP22". Released 9483 machine  More ...
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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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