- Post is under moderationTHE ROAD STORMER: #BMW-630CSi-E24 ALPINA US-Spec #1980
Extending The Ultimate Driving Machine Concept. By Thos L Bryant photos by Joe Rusz.
Question: How do you make one of the world’s great GT cars more outstanding? Answer: Pul it in the hands of Hardy & Beck’s Alpina/West (1790 Fifth St. Berkeley, Calif. 94710: 415 526-5489). In the November 1977 R&T. we featured their handiwork with the BMW 320i E21 and now the 630CSi E24 has conic in for its share of the glory. The result is equally impressive. When we tested the 630CSi (June 1977). we described it as one of the best GTs available with a combination of ride, handling, braking and steering characteristics superior to all but a few other automobiles. So what more could anyone want?
In the words of the Engineering Editor: “This (the Alpina treatment) is just what this car needs: you can see that BMW has leaned toward comfort while sacrificing sportiness in their expensive coupe. Obviously they know their market, as BMWs are no longer strictly enthusiast cars but have become image or ego cars. The result is a lot of people are buying Bimmers now who didn’t even know the name five years ago. Consequently, the car is a compromise. But for the true enthusiast, it’s nice to know companies like Alpina still care.”
The Hardy & Beck modifications center around suspension and aerodynamic improvements. The #Alpina retains the basic BMW suspension design but uses special Bilstein struts and inserts up front and #Bilstein shock absorbers with spring carriers for ride-height adjustment in the rear. The stock coil springs are replaced with shorter, higher-rate Hardy & Beck Performance units which lower the Alpina version by 0.8 in. Additionally, the factory anti-roll bars are replaced with larger-diameter bars: the 94 ROAD & TRACK front one has nylon bushings and the rear one has heim joints.
The standard Michelin XVS 195/70HR-14 tires give way to Pirelli P7 radials; 205/55VR-16 front and 225/50VR-16 rear. To accommodate the larger tires, the stock 14x6 wheels are replaced with l-piecc light-alloy wheels measuring 16x7 front and 16x8 rear. The aerodynamic improvement takes the form of a newly designed front air dam made of marine-quality fiberglass. And to make sure nobody dismisses this car as a run-of-the-mill 630CSi E24, striking blue and green Alpina Deko side stripes are applied.
Inside, the Alpina has individual Scheel seats up front that provide excellent lateral and thigh support. The scats are nicely integrated into BMW’s exceptional range of seat adjustments and take care of one of our few criticisms in our original 630CSi road test, the lack of side bolstering to hold the driver in place during hard cornering. The rear seat is stock, but is reupholstered to match the cloth Alpina motif of the front ones. There is an Alpina sport steering wheel with leather-covered rim and a rosewood shift knob to add just another touch of class to the package.
One of the most common criticisms of the 630CSi when it was introduced was that the buyer had to pay extra for a radio, something we decried in our road test as ludicrous in a car costing more than $20,000. Well, BMW corrected that situation but Hardy & Beck go all the way with an interior sound system featuring a Blaupunkt Berlin (the famous stalk-mounted model) radio and tape player. Fosgate amplifier and KLH speakers. The result is extraordinary and expensive, costing $1580.
Glowing praise flowed from each staffer who drove the Alpina 630CSi #BMW-E24 and our logbook contained such entries as. “Fantastic! There isn’t a fault I can think of.” Another noted. “This is one of those cars you hate to give up because its driving characteristics are so refined, regardless of the situation.” Essentially. the suspension modifications transform the Alpina 630CSi into a twisty road stormer. There’s an excellent balance of stiff but not too stiff, firm but not loo firm, compliant but not too compliant. And thanks to the P7s. the car sticks impressively to every road surface. When you first drive this car, you may think the Alpina is afflicted with too much body roll and a ride that’s too soft. Don’t be fooled, though, because it handles superbly without introducing vices often inherent in cars that go too far toward being racers: i.e.. a jarring ride, rear-wheel hop over rough pavement, etc.
Two objective measurements of the suspension improvements are our skidpad and slalom tests. In our road test of the stock #BMW-630CSi-Alpina we measured 0.754g on the 100-ft radius skidpad, while the Alpina version upped that figure to 0.798g, an impressive improvement. In our 700-ft slalom run, the Alpina zipped through the course at 58.8 mph, a significant 3.3 mph faster than the stock 630CSi.
The power-assisted recirculating-ball steering is excellent on the stock 630CSi and in most instances it’s even belter on the Alpina version as the wider tires give better road feel and slightly higher effort while retaining the very precise steering action for which BMWs are noted. The only drawback we noted was a small amount of steering fight while cornering on uneven surfaces, as if the steering geometry isn’t totally working for the driver. The result is a slight variation in the amount of lock required while negotiating a rough-surface corner and mild kickback. Also, as we have noticed before, the P7 tires thump loudly over highway lane divider dots. On the credit side of the ledger, however, these fat Pirellis work impressively well in the rain.
It’s quite obvious that we are extremely impressed with the #Alpina-630CSi E24 . Everything about the car cries out for a knowledgeable driver to get behind the wheel and find that special road. The BMW slogan. The Ultimate Driving Machine, has perhaps never been more applicable than it is to this car.
Hardy & Beck are marketing the #BMW-630CSi #Alpina-E24 through selected #BMW dealers around the U.S. And the cost? Starting with the basic $24,000 price of the stock 630, the Alpina parts will add roughly another $5500 plus tax and labor for installation based on the current flat rate at the time of modification. But. it’s only money and what’s that compared to the sheer exhilaration of driving a car as good as this one?
Suspension $696 plus 10.0 hours labor
Wheels $960 plus mounting & balancing (set of four)
Tires $255 each front, $265 each rear
air dam $150 plus 0.5 hours labor
Deko stripes $146 plus 6.0 hours labor
steering wheel $150 plus 0.5 hours labor
shift knob $9
sound system $1580 installed
Scheel seats $416 each plus 1.0 hour labor
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