Alpina or not?

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Alpina or not?

Post by Jeroen »

Many times people claim to have found a rare gem in the shape of an E21 Alpina. To try and avoid future questions and give all some background info, here's a little writeup on E21 Alpina's. This info comes additional to the Alpina models page and the Alpina parts page.

Alpina started off tweaking the 4 cylinder M10 engines and offered better carbs, uprated fuel injection and fast cams on their A1-A4 conversions, as well as suspension mods. Several aerodynamic and vehicle trim options completed the package. These models were mostly regarded as slightly uprated BMW's and not as exclusive automobiles, that must be why there aren't many survivors of these models.

From 1978 Alpina only offered 6 cylinder models. The C1 2.3 was a stock 323i for the largest part (therefore many 323i's with some Alpina goodies added are offered as Alpina C1 as they look very similar, even in the engine bay). The engine has undergone modifications to pistons, camshaft and cylinder head to gain 30 BHP, but that's hard to see from the outside.

Then their top model B6 2.8. This had the 2.8 litre M30 engine from the E12 5-series fitted, an engine that was not available from BMW in the E21 shell. At first the B6's had the Zenith DL fuel injection and Hartig ignition fitted making it easy to distinct it from a stock M30 engine, but after reliability issues with this setup Alpina changed to L-Jet fuel injection making it again hard to distinct an Alpina engine from a stock example.

And there were more issues. Alpina did not only build their conversions themselves, they also allowed their dealers and importers to do conversions. Names like Garage du Bac in France, Heidegger in Zwitzerland and Oldenhof in The Netherlands built their share. And in most cases, no records were kept or they were lost over time. Alpina only has records on the B6 conversions they did themselves. On top of that partial conversions were performed and back in the days vehicle registrations were not as strict as they are now. So there are cars registered as Alpina C1 or 323i Alpina after only receiving a suspension upgrade and a front spoiler!

A lively trade in Alpina parts only adds, so the Alpina VIN plaque on the dash doesn't give any guarantees to name an example. All 'n all it appears there are more wannabe Alpina cars then there are real Alpina conversions these days so you better be careful in assuming you have a rare collector's car on hand. That's what makes this forum so useful: if you believe you found an Alpina (or any other rare conversion like from MK Motorsport, Schnitzer or Hartge), please post some details on the car and preferably some decent photos and the Alpina specialists may be able to tell you if it is likely that the car is a genuine Alpina. But in most cases the car in question is more likely to be a stock E21 or some kind of custom conversion with some Alpina ornaments added. You're warned.

Regards/groeten, Jeroen

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Re: Alpina or not?

Post by TopCat »

Good article!

I hope this helps someone avoid a costly mistake!
Isle of Man Inverness
1980 BMW E21 Alpina B6 2.8
1991 BMW E30 Hartge H26
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