In 1962, Alpina started with the development of a Weber dual carburettor for the BMW 150. This made BMW sit up and take notice, as two short years later they agreed to cover all Alpina tuning parts under their own factory warranty.
Alpina, as we know it today, was officially formed as a company in 1965. Just three short years later in 1968, Alpina tuned cars began to see success in competitive racing action. With the 1970 European Touring Car Championship one of many notable triumphs.
In 1983, Alpina was officially recognised as a carmaker in its own right by the German Federal Ministry of Transport. By 1988 however, the company’s racing days came to an end due to restrictions and rule changes, instead shifting their focus entirely onto road cars.
Despite being separate companies, BMW and Alpina actually share a production line. With BMW producing the car at their Dingolfing facility, while Alpina completes the engine build at their Buchloe facility. After which, the engine is sent to BMW for install before the car is returned to Alpina’s facility for completion.
Throughout their history, Alpina has always put their own individual stamp on each car they’ve built. From their signature styling to their tuning methods. It all goes into making an enhanced variation of a BMW that BMW themselves wouldn’t make.
Here is every time we think that Alpina made a better BMW than BMW ever could.
The XD3 is the Alpina take on what a fast diesel SUV should be. Giving it 330 hp of twin-turbocharged oil-burning power driving all four wheels via a ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Boasting an ‘active’ limited-slip differential in the rear axle and Alpina tuned adjustable dampers, this behemoth destroys the 0-62mph run in 4.7 seconds, 0.2 of a second faster than its X3 M40d cousin before hitting 158mph in UK right-hand drive spec. In left-hand drive though, the XD3 gets even more mind-bogglingly quick with a quad turbo setup, pushing out 388 hp blazing the 0-62mph run in just 4.6 seconds.
Whoever said SUVs were all a bit dull…
Alpina B7 Turbo / 1
In the mid-1980s, Alpina got their hands on an E28 535i, mixed in their own blend of insanity to produce the B7 Turbo / 1.
The insanity bit comes from the 300 hp and 520Nm of torque available from the turbocharged Alpina fettled 3.5-litre straight six engine. Giving a 0-62mph time of 6.2 seconds and a top speed of 162mph. Basically Italian exotic sprint times with four-doors and a boot.
As it’s based on a BMW E28, it also gets the ever so popular classic shark nose looks. Along with all of the Alpina styling details, ensuring it beats the car it’s based on by a considerable distance.
Alpina B12 5.0
The E32 7 Series is described by some as the greatest of all 7 Series models. A car that is still a capable performer even by today’s lofty standards.
When Alpina worked their magic on an E32 though, it became something else entirely. The B12 5.0 was a 350 hp V12 powered Autobahn consuming monster of a luxo-barge.
That colossal powerplant produced a planet moving 470Nm of torque carrying this near two-tonne car to 60mph in 6.9 seconds hitting ‘over’ 170mph on an Autobahn.
Alpina D3 Bi-Turbo
When building the 320D E90/E91/E92 based D3 Bi-Turbo, Alpina got inventive by borrowing the 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel unit from the BMW 123d to replace the single turbo four-cylinder found in the standard car.
In D3 Bi-Turbo tuned form this engine pushes out 214 hp and a massive 450Nm of torque sprinting to 60mph in 6.9 seconds hitting 152mph at the top end.
Unbelievably, it also had more power than the higher spec 325d model with improved MPG while producing a lower amount of CO2.
And in E91 Touring spec with a manual, it surely gives you all of the lust.
The C1 was one of Alpina’s earliest 3 Series tuning attempts. Based on the E21 323i, this humble looking starter car was transformed. From the shark nose front complete with rally style foglights and deep chin spoiler to the signature stripes on the flanks to the black boot spoiler – it just looked magnificent.
The team at Buchloe took the 2.3-litre straight six engine tuned it to 170 hp, up from 141 hp standard. This may not sound like much, but in a car without all of the new car complexities (airbags and such), it meant a 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds and 130mph top speed – making it pretty quick for the early 1980s.
Alpina B3 GT3
Celebrating Alpina’s long-awaited return to motorsports, the B3 GT3 was a car that took inspiration from the E92 335i it was based on, along with an array of race DNA from Alpina’s own B6 racecar.
Just 99 were built, all sporting a reworked version of the ‘N54’ 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight six engine good for 408 hp and a whopping 540Nm of torque. It also got a big-bore Akrapovic titanium exhaust, track-ready coilover suspension with adjustable ride height, forged aluminium wheels and six-piston brake calipers with 380mm front brake discs.
On an Autobahn, the B3 GT3 could hit 186mph while running the 0-62mph sprint in 4.5 seconds. Meaning it blew the standard 335i well and truly into the weeds.
Alpina B10 Bi-Turbo
Back in 1991, cars that could hit 180mph were usually Italian exotics with silly doors no boot space. The B10 Bi-Turbo though was Alpina’s answer to the Italians, complete with four doors and a boot.
To achieve this colossal top speed, Alpina took an E34 535i, added twin-turbos and an array of their own brand parts – creating a saloon car pushing 360 hp and 520 Nm of torque.
In the early 1990s, the B10 Bi-Turbo was the world’s fastest saloon car sprinting to 60mph in just 5.6 seconds along with its huge top speed making it the ultimate super-saloon of the time.
Alpina B5 Bi-Turbo Touring
When BMW finally unveiled the F10 generation M5, there was one thing sadly missing – a touring variant. To appease us after this crushing disappointment, step forward Alpina with their take dubbed the B5 Bi-Turbo Touring.
Based on the F11 550i, it got a highly tweaked version of the twin-turbo V8 producing 600hp and 800 Nm of torque. The 0-62mph run was completed in 4.2 seconds going on to 200mph making it the world’s fastest family mover.
Alpina B12 5.7 Coupe
If you think the most ferocious version of the E31 BMW 8 Series is the 850 CSi, think again: as it is, in fact, the Alpina B12 5.7 Coupe.
What Alpina did was make an already fast and pretty car, even faster and far prettier with all of their signature tuning and styling touches. They took the 5.7-litre V12 engine and tuned it to produce 416 hp and 570 Nm of torque. Giving this huge coupe true continent crushing ability with 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds and a 186mph top speed.
Alpina B7 S Turbo Coupe
The B7 S Turbo Coupe was a car that unlocked all of the potential the E24 635 CSi had, but couldn’t use when it wore a BMW badge. The 3.5-litre straight six got a turbocharger lifting power to 330 hp and 500 Nm of torque.
All of the considerable might propelled it from 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds onwards to 163mph – which in 1982 was supercar like speed. Add to this Alpina’s subtle restyle of an already very good looking car, shark nose and all – and that only 30 were ever built. The B7 S Turbo Coupe surely has to be one of the most desirable cars ever made.
Alpina D10 Bi-Turbo
When Alpina introduced D10 Bi-Turbo, it was their first attempt at diesel tuning in the early 2000s. Using the E39 530D as a platform, they added an extra turbocharger increasing power to 245 hp and 500 Nm of torque – unheard of numbers for a six-cylinder diesel engine at the time.
In Switch-Tronic gearbox spec, this black pump powered saloon could complete the 0-62mph sprint in 6.8 seconds hitting 158mph flat out.
Alpina Roadster V8
When looking at the BMW Z8, it’s hard to find anything wrong with its design at all. So when it came to tuning one, Alpina pretty much left that gorgeous body alone instead swapping the 5.0-litre M5 V8 engine for their own 4.8-litre B10 V8.
This meant power fell from 400 hp to 381 hp, being tuned for greater torque at lower revs. 0-62mph took 5.3 seconds, 0.6 of a second slower than the BMW version hitting 161mph at the top end. Only 555 were built, and given for how it looks we are happy to forgive Alpina for making it slower.
Alpina B5 S
Among the number of milestones in Alpina’s greatest hits, surely adding a supercharger a BMW V8 has to be one of them. The B5 S was Alpina’s answer to the E60 M5. Relying on supercharging to give it 530 hp and 725 Nm of torque, all with two cylinders less than its M Division V10 powered cousin.
All of this supercharged fettling of the 4.4-litre V8 under its bonnet meant 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds (4.7 seconds for the Touring) before topping out at 197mph.
Alpina B8 4.6
A decade before BMW gave an M3 V8 power, Alpina had already gone and done it in 1995 with the 3 Series based B8 4.6.
Part of the cars name stood for the increased displacement, as Alpina got rid of the cars original 2.8-litre straight six and fitted a heavily revised M60/M62 V8 engine instead. This got a litany of new parts including upgraded pistons, valve timing, exhaust and engine management and a six-speed manual gearbox from Getrag.
Alpina also reworked the suspension and brakes, which is a good thing when you consider the B8 4.6 pushed out 333 hp and 470 Nm of torque seeing off the 0-62mph run in 5.6 seconds onwards to a top speed of ‘over’ 174mph.
Alpina B12 6.0 E-KAT
The E38 is thought by many to be the last great looking 7 Series. And I don’t disagree. When Alpina got hold of one though, they nearly left the outside alone, aside from a few signature trimmings and styling cues. Instead, focusing on the power and speed aspects.
The B12 6.0 E-KAT has a 6.0-litre Alpina tuned V12 engine producing 430 hp and 600 Nm of torque. This meant you could destroy the 0-62mph run in 5.9 seconds wafting your way in luxury to 180mph on an Autobahn.
Alpina B6 3.5 S
How exactly can improve on a car that is near-perfect in every single way?
Well, the Alpina approach is to take one E30 M3, throw away the four-cylinder engine and replace it with a tuned 3.5-litre straight six instead. In B6 3.5 S spec, power went up to 254 hp with 320 Nm of torque. Making it a little more capable than the car its based in with a 0-62mph time of 6.6 seconds and 155mph top speed.
Only 62 examples were ever built. And even if it is only marginally quicker than the holy grail of all M3s, you have to applaud Alpina for trying to improve upon perfection.