I think we can all agree that BMW’s first generation 3-series doesn’t get much love. That shouldn't be the case with today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Alpina-branded turbo however, as it’s a freaking orgy. But, will its price and promise prove anticlimactic?
While typically used to denote the victor of a contest, another meaning of the word champ is to bite down - a derivation of chomp. Well, according to the 60% of you who gave it a Nice Price win, yesterday’s 1980 Plymouth Champ didn’t bite, and I guess that actually does make it a champ. Go figure.
Today we have another car from 1980, and one with a proper 5-speed rather than yesterday's OCD’s dream twin stick four-and-two-more. Not only that, but today’s E21 Alpina Turbo comes with a potentially fascinating history.
Alpina, or more appropriately Alpina Burkard Bovensiepen GmbH, as you probably know, is a Bavaria-based auto maker whose go-faster models start out as BMWs. This particular Alpina is supposedly one of three prototypes built to provide BMW with a hot version of the somewhat milquetoast in character E21.
According to the yarn detailed on the dealer’s page, BMW wanted to hot rod the 3-series, and couldn’t make up their minds between turboing the M10 or dropping in a warm six cylinder M20. Alpina received three bodies in white and three 2-litre M10s upon which to work their magic.
What Alpina is claimed to have done was to increase the stroke, giving it 2.3 litres of displacement, add a Rajay turbo (oil cooled, so keep in mind the required old school cool down procedure), backed up with a proper five speed. Add to that a 3.64 LSD rear end and that all rode on a modified 323 suspension.
After evaluating the final Alpina product, BMW went with the six. This car was sold to one of the Alpina engineers. He in turn had the car outfitted with a “Hi-lux” package - fog lights, sunroof, headlamp wipers (love those!) and a bunch of other fancy pants parts.
The new owner happened to be an American and he brought the car home to Colorado where he had it Federalized and fitted with a less-crappy A/C. That original owner had the car for more than 20 years before passing it on in 2011.
Before the trade was made however, the car underwent a major renovation, including bare metal respray, a new top end on the turbo four, and a full suspension and brake refresh.
The next owner finished the job, according to the ad, investing an additional six grand into the car for a new vinyl interior - including its sexy Recaro seats - and unique Alpina gauge cluster on the dash top.
At present this car sports only 40,000 miles, and appears to have had its car cred switch flipped to full-awesome. It rocks the E21’s Euro bumpers, which are a big improvement over the aluminum bus benches foisted on the car by US insurance companies.
It also has the iconic Alpina stripes on its flanks and a Chicago-style front airdam. The interior’s Recaro centered driving compartment is black as your soul, and twice as tidy, offering up a fatty three spoke for all your turning pleasure.
But here's the deal though. All of that story told in the ad? That may very well be utter bullshite. You see, there's a lot that's questionable about this car and that history. Those Turbines? Those don't look right. And the turbo setup, well those who know A LOT more about such things than I do say that's a Calloway setup, not anything Alpina ever wrenched. You can see the whole dissection of the facts in this thread on Bimmerforums.
The California dealership where the car is presently on display is called the Auto Kennel, but does that mean their offerings are dogs? This car comes with a questionable provenance, albeit looking like it's in amazing shape, and who wouldn't want a car so kitted? But does that all add up to its recently reduced $24,990 price tag?
What do you think, does that price make this E21 a potential Alpina adventure worth taking? Or, is this a turbo whose price and provenance is blown all out of proportion?
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UPDATE: Alpina, via BMW, confirms this not a real Alpina product:
“This is a faked car. ALPINA never did an E21 turbo. Details
The steering wheel is not original ALPINA
The wheels look like BMW wheels 14" with ALPINA Logos.ALPINA did the first 6 cyl. 3 series E21 with the BMW 2.8l engine and 200 HP, during lifecyle the power went up to 218 HP. That car had 15" ALPINA wheels.”