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.
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.
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.
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.