With the announcement of an Australian distributor for Alpina coming today, Wheels looks at BMW’s association with the luxury performance brand, together with the tuning company’s history, heritage and the models now destined for our roads.
The name Alpina has always encompassed a mystical sense of allure for most Australian enthusiasts, due to not only their scarcity down under, but their perceived individuality. Melbourne’s The In Motion Group has now been appointed by Alpina HQ – Burkard Bovensiepen GmbH & Co. KG – as the exclusive importer and distributor for Australia.
Only eight examples of the B4 Bi-Turbo Coupe (which has already undergone ADR compliance and homologation for sale in Australia) will initially arrive in November this year and all are destined to be used as demonstrators for the Group’s first dealerships in Doncaster and Bundoora.
The In Motion Group will also have the BMW Alpina B4 Bi-Turbo Convertible and B3 Bi-Turbo Sedan (including Touring models) available for test in November. Customer cars however, will be built to order, due to the array of trim options available.
According to BMW, scheduled servicing for all models will be carried out by Alpina’s Australian dealer network, which the In Motion Group has plans to introduce into selected major metropolitan areas later in the year.
So, what is Alpina?
If you’re a motoring enthusiast, you’ll know the Alpina name. If you’ve just discovered a love of all-things cars and are a bit out of the loop, here’s a quick guide to bring you up to speed:
- Alpina is a low-volume German automobile manufacturer that produces a range of bespoke cars based on current BMW models, and has a long association with BMW that started in 1965.
- Each Alpina undergoes significant modifications to the exterior, interior, drivetrain, chassis, suspension and exhaust.
- From its manufacturing plant in Buchloe – near Munich, Germany – Alpina designs, engineers and manufactures its components, which are then fitted to its cars on the assembly line at BMW manufacturing plants in Bavaria.
- The finishing touches are then applied in the Alpina factory.
- As an officially registered German automobile manufacturer, every BMW Alpina is fitted with an individual production plaque along with a specific Alpina VIN number.
BMW and ALPINA – a quick history and heritage
- Alpina was founded by Burkard Bovensiepen in 1965, who, together with sons Andreas and Florian, still heads the family-run German business.
- The company produces up to 1700 cars a year based on current BMW models that are sold in markets across the globe.
- Bovensiepen’s association with the BMW Group began in 1962 when the young engineering student developed a dual Weber carburettor system for the then new BMW 1500. Impressed with the quality of the system, the BMW Group gave Bovensiepen approval to continue.
- Through the late 1960s and early 1970s, Bovensiepen continued to develop BMW cars largely for motorsport, with drivers of his creations including Derek Bell, James Hunt, Jacky Ickx and Niki Lauda.
- Alpina’s development of BMW cars extended well beyond simply modifying engines. In 1983 it was officially registered as an automobile manufacturer by the German Ministry of Transport, and continued to develop new models based on BMW cars.
- Since then, Alpina has produced its own unique grand tourers based on BMW 3 Series, 5 Series and BMW 7 Series sedans, 6 and 8 Series coupes and Z Series roadsters.
- Such is the strength of the relationship between Alpina and the BMW Group that Alpina engineers receive CAD designs for new models well in advance of their BMW launch to enable it to develop its own products to complement the BMW models.
Our four best Alpina models of all time
1. BMW 3.0 CSL coupe (aka The Batmobile)
In 1970, Alpina won the European Touring Car Championship, the 24-Hours of Spa-Francorchamps and all three major German championships: Road Course, Hill-Climb and Rallye. Following this success, in 1971, the BMW Group tasked Alpina with the project leadership to develop the lightweight BMW 3.0 CSL Coupe (pictured above) that went on to win the 1973 European Touring Car Championship.
2. Alpina B6 2.8
Based on the E21 series two-door 323i, the Alpina B6 2.8 was the first 3 Series based car to feature a six-cylinder engine, and, with peak outputs of 125kW and 180Nm, was able to cover 0-100km/h in 7.9 seconds before hitting a top speed of 208km/h.
3. Alpina B7 Turbo
Alpina showcased the B7 Turbo based on the E12 BMW 528i and the B7 Turbo Coupe derived from the E24 series 630CSi. With its 3.0-litre straight six turbo engine producing 221kW and 462Nm, the B7 Turbo was the world’s fastest four-door sedan of its time with a top speed in excess of 250km/h and 0-100km/h time of 6.5 seconds.
4. Alpina D10 Biturbo and XD3 Bi-Turbo
In 1999, in collaboration with the BMW Group, Alpina ventured into the diesel market for the first time, producing the 5 Series based 180kW/500Nm D10 Biturbo, the world’s most powerful diesel sedan of its time, and by 2013, it had developed its first SUV: the 257kW/700Nm BMW Alpina XD3 Bi-Turbo.