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Alpina brings awesome to 50th birthday

2015-04-30 07:39

PARTY CARS: Two very special blitz-Beemer derivatives push the envelope with Alpina's most powerful engines yet... the B5 and B6. Image: Alpina

  Video

A new generation of high-performance diesel sedans and estates has been launched by luxury automaker Alpina. The model, based on BMW’s 3-Series, is powered a 257kW/700Nm diesel and rockets from 0-100km/h in 4.6 seconds. Watch the BMW Alpina D3 Bi-Turbo in action!

FERDI DE VOS

Renowned car-tuning firm Alpina will, through 2015, celebrate 50 years of building go-faster BMWs, most of them kitted to the roof and sporting charming deco-set pinstripe decals.

And the company has invited customers to its party with two special (very special) anniversary models.

The company was established in January 1965 by Burkard Bovensiepen in Kaufbeuren, Germany and used to produce typewriters. It hasfor  more than a half-century been committed to developing and assembling some extraordinary road  and racing vehicles.

TWO SPECIAL EDITIONS

This passion also reverberated in South Africa; Alpina was instrumental in the creation of some very special, very exclusive and globally sought-after South African-built BMWs...

True to form, Alpina saw its 50-year celebrations as a perfect opportunity to produce two very special blitz-Beemer derivatives - “pushing the envelope even further” by featuring the most powerful engines yet in its cars...

Only 50 of these special editions – based on the B5 and B6 Biturbo – will be built.

The 4.4-litre V8 twin-turbo engine of the 5 Series-based B5 Biturbo Edition 50 version produces a stomping 441kW at 6000rpm and 800Nm from 3500rpm, giving it a 0-100km/h time of only 4.2sec.

All this power is sent to the rear wheels through an eight-speed sport-auto ZF Switchtronic transmission, giving this special B5 a potential top speed of 328km/h.


VIDEO: Learn more about the Alpina B5 and B6 Edition 50 models.


This model is also offered in station-wagon form and is available with a retro interior consisting of black seats with so-called forest green trim and yellow and black stitching, reminiscent of the legendary B7 S Turbo Coupé upholstery from 1982.

Signature Alpina 20” wheels, high-performance brakes and the company's own titanium exhaust system completes the package.

The special B6 Biturbo, based on the 6 Series coupe, shares all the goods from the B5, down to the interior trim which time-warps back to the B7 S Turbo Coupe, also from 1982.

ALPINA'S SA LEGACY

Alpina established its racing credentials in the ‘seventies and ‘eighties with numerous motor sport victories, including a string of wins in the German Touring Car (DTM) series.

During these sporty heydays BMW South Africa was competing in the local saloon car championship and needed a car to take on the big-capacity foes such as the Ford Sierra V8 and Alfa Romeo GTV 3.0 in Group One.

This resulted in the iconic and very unique E30 333i, built and developed by BMW SA in co-operation with BMW Motorsport in Germany and Alpina.

Powered by the M30B32 3.3-litre engine used in the 733i it used many Alpina parts, including the gearbox, rear axle and brakes, and could be viewed as an interesting variation of the Alpina E30 B6 3.5, built in different forms from 1985-90.

It was also the first time BMW Motorsport and Alpina collaborated on a project, and this relationship of shared engineering effort and development cooperation continues to this day…

The Group One series was cancelled at the end of 1985, leaving the 333i without a formula to compete in and with only 204 examples built between 1985 and 1987 this BMW now is a highly sought after collector’s car.

...AND THE SHADOWLINE

When it became clear that the newly-developed E30 M3 was not destined for South Africa the link between BMW SA and Alpina led to another memorable collaborative effort – the E30 BMW 325iS, or Shadowline, as it was fondly known.

Not to be confused with 325iS models in other countries, the Shadowline’s straight-six 2.7-litre engine was based on the Alpina C2 2.7 engine, but it was mated to a Getrag close-ratio gearbox (with famous dogleg first) and LSD.

The first incarnation of this special BMW, specifically developed to counter the Opel Superboss challenge in the South African Group N racing series, was introduced in March 1990.

Called the Evo it had the M3’s suspension and wheels with five-bolt hubs, while the bonnet, doors and front wings were made of aluminium and its C2 2.7-litre engine with non-Alpina camshaft developed 147kW.

A second evolution of this special model followed and two batches were built at Rosslyn in March and June 1991. Aptly called the 325iS Evo 2 this model retained the M3 suspension (but now Japanese spec Boge) with Alpina anti-roll bars.

In contrast to the Evo it had steel doors and mechanically its C2 2.7-litre engine, now with 535i throttle body and air flow meter, developed 155kW and ran a 3.91 diff ratio.

PIN-STRIPED WONDERS

The Evo models are unique to South Africa and, together with the venerable E30 M3 and the beastly 333i, are revered by BMW aficionados worldwide as the pinnacle in development of the E30 model range.

So, while Alpina’s pin-striped BMW wonders have never officially been available in South Africa, the company has left a lasting legacy here. 

Thank you for the memories, Alpina. Here’s to another 50 years of creating extraordinary Beemers…

MORE MEMORIES: Another memorable collaborative effort between Alpina and BMW – the E30 BMW 325iS, or Shadowline, as it was fondly known.


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