Alpina: More Than Just A Tuning Company

Alpina e12 B7 Turbo

Alpina e12 B7 Turbo

Having owned several Mercedes, a BMW e46 M3 and currently an E36 325i coupe, I’m a massive fan of German cars. Whilst Mercedes have their AMG tuning division and BMW their infamous M division, there’s another name synonymous with BMW that offers more than a badge and extra grunt.

Alpina e12 B7 Interior

Alpina e12 B7 Interior

Since 1965 German manufacturer, Alpina have worked alongside BMW, their platform the canvas onto which they lavish their unique styling and performance enhancements. Whilst the car above could be mistaken for an early e28 M5, if you look a little closer you’ll notice the “Alpina” and “B7 Turbo badges”. Both cars are performance sedans in their own right, however, the Alpina’s styling is more luxurious, complete with signature spoked wheels, and perhaps ahead of its time considering the use of turbos in the current M cars, Alpina turbocharged the engines.

Classic Alpina Wheels

Classic Alpina Wheels

Alpina’s 1979 launch of their B7 Turbo was a significant move forwards regarding the general public having access to big power family cars. In the same year, Road & Track magazine tested the B7 Turbo and proclaimed it as ”The World’s Fastest Sedan.” This is an amazing feat, especially as five years later it still held the title, boasting a 163.9-mph top speed.

Alpina e12 B7 Turbo

Alpina e12 B7 Turbo

We tend to think of the early M cars as the first stupidly fast sedans, but Alpina’s 1979 B7 Turbo produced 296-bhp – that’s more power than BMW’s M1 supercar and 11-bhp more than the first M5 in 1985.

The videos below show off some very rare cars, including a couple of later e28 models, one in action against a BMW e36 M3 – although it doesn’t quite match the e36 in performance, it still highlights the amazing power on offer in 1979, over a decade before the e36 was produced.

I was thinking about getting my hands on another M3, either an e36 or an e46, but after seeing their stylish turbocharged cousins, I’m leaning towards an Alpina.

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Aaron Beck: Badass Defined

Plymouth Cuda

Plymouth Cuda – Aaron Beck

If you read yesterday’s hearse post, you’ll have seen the image of a rather mean, stretched and black Dodge Challenger. The rendering is by a talented individual called, Aaron Beck, a guy who obviously knows and understands what makes a car badass. His twisted and sinister vision is capable of possessing a collection of nuts and bolts with the kind of presence that gives Gargling Gas goose bumps.

Take the Plymouth Barracuda above, for example, a car I could see myself cruising along Nevada back roads in, body parts in the trunk, wads of cash on the passenger seat, the throb of V8 the perfect soundtrack as I headed towards the horizon.

Rocket Bunny Cuda (Nissan S13 front end) - Aaron Beck

Rocket Bunny Cuda (Nissan S13 front end) – Aaron Beck

If someone were to ask you to imagine what the love child of a 70s Cuda and an early 90s Nissan S13 would look like, you’d assume they’d left their medication in the cabinet that morning. Ask Aaron Beck and he’d answer, “It would like a Rocket Bunny drift car, of course.”

The lines all work, as does the front end, and as far as the usual LS V8 engine swap the drifters all go for today, leave the original Hemi in it and call it perfection.

Rat Cuda - Aaron Beck

Rat Cuda – Aaron Beck

The Rat look is a phenomenon that just keeps growing, its rusty insidious tendrils reaching out past the usual fare of American iron to German soil and the VWs and Bimmers. The Rat Cuda above is a rendering done for the up and coming Mad Max: Fury Road movie. This is another reason I feel Aaron is worthy of a post, the fact he is associated with one of my favourite road movies.

Mad Max Vehicle - Aaron Beck

Mad Max Vehicle – Aaron Beck

 

Aaron Beck's Kuda

Aaron Beck’s Kuda

From his renderings to reality, Aaron’s three dimensional ride is his Kuda pictured above. His eye for detail and talent make it extremely hard to tell what is 2D and what is real, but if you take a look at beckkustoms, you can witness the Kuda’s build and the labour of love that is the car’s interior.

So I doff my cap to you, Sir Aaron Beck, for your creations are sinister and the epitome of ‘badass’ – I’ll certainly be paying extra attention when I sit down and watch Mad Max: Fury Road.

 

 

Video

Skogen Racing: Connoisseurs Of Sleeping

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Skogen Racing Cortina – Mondeo ST220 Engine

This outfit from Sweden are exactly what messing about with cars are all about. Take a 30-year-old car on the verge of being either parted out or scrapped, wrench on it, give it a major heart transplant, and then drift it or race it through forests.

My favourite of the bunch, despite being a massive BMW fan, is the Ford Cortina pictured above and below. Once Skogen Racing have finished with it, you are left with a 950-KG car boasting 306-whp, a transplant from a Ford Mondeo ST220. Of course, there’s a lot more to it than shoe-horning a bigger power plant into the car, the list of modifications more than enough to both harness the extra grunt and stabilise the little car.

306-whp Ford Cortina With A Mondeo ST220 Engine

306-whp Ford Cortina With A Mondeo ST220 Engine

I say ‘messing about with cars’, but Skogen Racing are a little more than that, regularly competing in auto events. When they aren’t injecting serious power into retro cars, they’re either sliding, racing or dragging them, the team often arranging events and meets.

770-bhp BMW Powered Ford Seirra

770-bhp BMW Powered Ford Seirra

Some of their cars do hint as to being modded, but when you consider their Ford Seirra pictured above and its turbo-charged BMW M50B25 transplant, no one would expect it to boast 770-bhp. After swapping the Ford 2.8i V6 for a BMW 2.5-L inline-6, followed by adding a Garrett GT40 turbo, intercooler, injectors and forged pistons to handle the power, I consider this a serious sleeper.

So if I were facing the crusher, this is the way I’d like to go out: smoking and screaming, sliding through the Pearly Gates so violently an immediate one-way ticket to Hell would be issued.

Check out more of Skogen Racings insane livery and the way they add massive power without making it too obvious.

The one gem they did build that can be called a pure sleeper is the MK1 Ford Fiesta featured in their video below. I remember this car as a four-year-old, two of them in my street, both owned by elderly people. Take a look what Skogen Racing did to it…

Sideways For The Price of A Smartphone

HeLLga, my E36 325i Coupe

A drift missile for the price of a smartphone? Hmm, sounds a little far-fetched, I know, but trust me on this.

When I first noticed drifting, it wasn’t through the channels of its Japanese origins; drifting made itself known in the form of Hulk Hogan’s son, Nick, and his dabbling with the pros in his yellow Supra – the one he eventually crashed and left his best friend paralysed with. After a stint in jail, Nick faded away from the scene and that was that, but for the few episodes I saw him drift, I couldn’t help but notice the seemingly large sums of cash needed to partake in the sport.

That was nearly a decade ago, and ever since that yellow and chrome monstrosity, I’ve been fascinated, studying the varying styles and cultures surrounding international drifting. The sport has made a such big impression since the States transformed the Japanese parking-lot precision driving into its FormulaDrift series, virtually every petrolhead on the planet has tried kicking out the rear of their car and holding a drift.

That’s what’s so great about the sport – with a little practice, anyone owning a relatively light RWD car with around 150+ bhp and 150+ ft-lbs of torque can drift it (on closed roads or track, of course).

This has led to the formation of drift clubs both big and small, drivers meeting up and getting their missiles sideways. Drifting has managed to knock down barriers and bring different car genres together, from German coupes to Japanese turbos to American muscle, all shredding rubber together on track.

Owning a drift missile doesn’t have to be costly either, as the title of this article suggests. For the price of a leading smartphone (ÂŁ600-ÂŁ999), you can pick up a solid, high-mile BMW E36 325i/323i/328i or a Mk1/2 Mazda MX-5. After ripping out the entire interior and installing a secondhand roll cage and bucket seat, you’re virtually ready for some handbrake/clutch kick action.

Although this article comes across as a poor man’s answer to drifting, it actually backs up the original Japanese theory that less is more. I wrote a piece for Motor Ward featuring the drift king himself, Keiichi Tsuchiyai, the grand master and inventor of drifting. He says drifting a car with limited power (anything under approximately 140-bhp) is far harder than sliding a more powerful car, thus throwing a cheap missile around means you’ll eventually develop uber drifting skills – it’s harder to kick out the rear of an old 130-bhp Toyota AE86 than it is  a 400-bhp Skyline.

HeLLga’s Loving Leather Embrace

If the interior is in decent condition, you could sell it and put the extra cash into a super chip or re-map for that extra 25-bhp. Give the car a full service, especially the engine and all of the fluids. Tape up the lights, fix a sports steering wheel and drift brake lever, finally spraying/wrapping your weapon matt black, and you are ready to shred.

Okay, so once you’re hooked and you get the hang of it you’ll ruin yourself spending out on power gains, superior suspension components, racing clutch kits and body panels, but how much more adrenaline do you expect to spill for the price of a phone?

iPhone or iDrift?

Easy…

 

 

 

Ken Block: My Modern Day Superhero

Now the dust has quite literally settled upon the sun-baked streets of Los Angeles, and Ken Block’s snorting ’65 Mustang is stabled and resting, I can reflect on Gymkhana 7 and how it turned back my metaphorical clock by three decades or so.

To elucidate on the actual driving that went on in L.A., I penned an article for Motorward magazine along with the video, ignoring all of the details such as driving techniques and listing reams of technical data, instead harping on about how Block and his fantastical machine took me back in time for 12 minutes, leaving me a little confused and angry at the fact I found myself back in 2014 as a 36 -year-old afterwards.

Rally purists may criticise Block and his Rally X/Drift hybrid style, but this is 2014 – if X Games dirt bike riders can get away with grabbing massive air, opening their legs and calling the move the ‘Paris Hilton’, then Block is doing the right thing here – it simply boils down to exciting and impressive viewing. Don’t get me wrong though; I’m a massive fan of the X Fighters bike format, along with all the X Games sports, and adding cars with 80’s Group B rally power to the list is obviously a recipe for success.

ken4

Big power and exciting viewing leads me neatly onto the superhero/stuntman angle I’m pushing here – for those 12 minutes I sat gawping as the Block’s Hoonicorn tore up the streets of L.A., miles of internal wiring fused inside my head, leaving me experiencing waves of nostalgia, seamless flashbacks of stars and stripes, bleating dixie horns, and a whole fleet of toys I put through a similar ordeal to the car on my computer screen.

Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle

Dukes of Hazzard Wrist Racer

Dukes of Hazzard Wrist Racer

007's Underwater Lotus Esprite

007’s Underwater Lotus Esprite

The toys pictured above were my favourites, and I think it was the combination of terrific film producing, the smoking and squealing of tyres, that evil Mustang, and of course its superhuman pilot that evoked their memory.

Dressed in a retro style leather jacket and donning a glittery patriotic race helmet along with meridian goggles and skull face scarf, Ken Block was my childhood Bo Duke, my Evel Knievel, my James Bond, my Bandit, and perhaps even my Superman all wrapped up into one super-being.

So now it’s all over, do I watch it again and go back to 1982, or do I face reality and help my wife lay the table?

I Need A Big Pussy In My Life

hellcat1

Non super car manufacturers not particularly associated with producing gargantuan power figures rarely decide to let their hair down and offer up a piece of kit capable of splitting the atom, but when they do, the news spreads like wildfire, especially if the creation is worthy of all the hype.

Remember when the ‘older persons’ brand of choice, Buick, released the muscle car-eating Grand National version of their Regal? Well, times that image by 10 and you have some idea as to the hype making the rounds surrounding Dodge.

Dodge may produce the Viper, and they’ve certainly produced great muscle cars of past, even rekindling their Challenger and Charger with modern Hemi SRT tributes, but to take this platform and give it a supercharged 707-hp is just plain… genius – a Dodge with more horse power than a Lamborghini Aventador!

The atomic version of the Dodge Challenger SRT pictured above also comes with a great name, a simple yet perfectly apt title: Hellcat. Imagine being able to say: “I own a Hellcat,” safe in the knowledge your 2-tonne feline can hit 62-mph in 3.7 seconds. Even if the person asking is a Ford guy with a Shelby GT 500, you’d trump him by 45 ponies.

That collection of nuts and bolts pictured above makes up a supercharged 6.2-L Hemi V8 boasting 707-hp and 650 lb¡ft of torque. Notice the headlight – or lack of – allowing RAM air induction to produce more torque? I really like that touch; in an age concerned with helping the environment, I love Dodge for creating this car. Was it irony they unleashed this powerhouse in green?

I hope so…

Watch the Hellcat with its claws bared, 707-hp drifting in anger.