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Alpina in the UK in the ’70s & ’80s

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    Posted: 21-January-2007 at 11:32

Hello All,

 

I’m a huge BMW entusiast from Holland.

Specially the more classical BMW’s and special, rare BMW’s have my special interest.

 

I'm currently investigating the early Alpina History in the UK, and especially the UK-only special Alpina cars and Alpina conversions.

 

The Alpina story and how that came to be in the early ‘70’s and ‘80s in the UK is particularly interesting.

Unfortunately Alpina Germany did not reply to any of my questions, BMW UK was unable to assist me further although they at least were willing to try.

Tom Walkinshaw Racing also did not reply to any mails from me.

 

Sofar I've been able to find out the following, but I'm sure there is much more to know, and I'm hoping that some forum-members are able to help me further:

 

At first some smaller UK companies which were involved with racing-activities made the first steps in the Alpina introduction in the UK, although on a very limited scale.

 

One of the first companies as a full Alpina representative in the UK was Tom Walkinshaw Racing in Kidlington.

Tom was racing with BMW’s at the time and so his involvement with Alpina came to be.

 

Alpina Germany however was not yet active on the UK market with complete cars (at least not at first, as they only made LHD cars). Only partly in conversions (suspension / engine’s) and optical enhancement of standard BMW’s. These things were thus organised and distributed by those smaller companies, and eventually TWR.

 

The first “special” Alpina influenced cars were:

 

1977 BMW 633 CSi Limited Edition, only 10 cars were ever made, they were all painted in a very special Silver metallic paint, had a roman number logo on each side, Alpina-like front spoiler, modified suspension and modified engine aswell.

(Details of these mods. unfortunately unknown).

Aimed at customers who wanted a bit more then the standard 633 CSi.

(Remember, at the time the 635 was not yet there..)

At the moment at least one car is still alive today in the UK and on the road.

(Not sure if these cars were made at TWR Kidlington, but if not I suspect at least some TWR involvement with parts supply).

 

1978 BMW 633 CSi Hallmark Edition.

These cars were introduced in 1978, just after the market introduction of the more powerful 635 Csi. This slowed the sale of the last remaining new 633 CSi’s in stock.

BMW GB decided to launch a very special upgrade package for these last remaining cars to boost their sale. Although the price for these cars was up by around 4000 pounds, strangely enough, the cars were sold quite quickly. Perhaps the exclusivity and the higher price-tag persuaded customers to opt for these special 633 CSi’s rahter then the stock 635 CSi.

 

Introduction of these cars took place in Harrogate in 1978.

  

At the moment the exact amount of cars produced is a bit unclear.

Some sources say there were 56 cars made, one for each UK BMW dealership at the time, another source says there were only 26.

This number was mentioned on a special certificate that came with each car when delivered new.

A friend of mine in the UK owns a condition-1 Hallmark, and also a condition-3 car which is planned to be a spare/donor car if the need comes.

He has had contact with the first owner of his car, and although the certificate was unfortunately lost over time, this first owner stated that his car was number 17 out of 26.

 

Both stories can be true and argumented.

 

The by BMW Concessionaires assigned 633 CSi cars were all converted at TWR / Kidlington.

New cars which arrived from Germany went directly from the import centre at Dover to TWR

to become Hallmarks. Most customers took delivery of their cars directly from Kidlington.

 

Basic spec. of the Hallmark cars, for which Patrick Eggs of BMW Concessionaires was responisble, were as follows:

 

-All cars were RHD

-Most cars were automatics, but at least two manual cars were made (both these cars are still

 alive today).

-20 spoke Aplina alloys 7x16 on the front and 8x16 on the rear.

-Alpina front spoiler, no rear spoiler.

-Bilstein suspension, and uprated brakes.

-Twin hand-painted coachlines with the letter H on the rear wings, and front spoiler

-Solid silver ashtray cover, and 'H' emblem motif on each front headrest.

-Momo three spoke steering wheel with leather centre pad, also displaying 'H' emblem motif

-No engine mods were done, although the car which went to Derek Bell had a so called

 “blueprinted engine” whatever that means. This car was one of the above mentioned manual

 gearbox cars.

 

A special salesbrochure (of which I have a copy) was issued for these cars.

 

Sofar my info on the ‘late ‘70s.

 

Perhaps there are some more interesting stories or models in this period that you know about?

 

The ‘80s.

 

In 1983, after TWR stepped out of the Alpina & BMW business, Frank Sytner took charge of the Alpina representing for the UK.

Various Sytner BMW dealerships became directly involved with these cars, and even did conversions, for either Alpina or other BMW specially equipped cars.

Mostly these were very limted production amounts, and thus these cars are now very rare and sought after. But it also makes interesting BMW history to investigate further.

 

Sytner was the BMW dealership who eventually could convince Alpina Germany in Buchloe that there was a healthy market for complete Alpina cars in the UK, but they had to be RHD

(Alpina only made LHD cars at the time).

At first Alpina Germany would not take the hassle with RHD conversions themselves, so they authorised Sytner to do these converions for them.

This was done at the Nottingham facility in the period 1983-1993

 

At the moment I have found out that the following BMW (or partly converted) Alpina models were available for the UK market only with Sytner involvement:

 

“Alpina” B2.8, a Sytner Nottingham conversion of the E28 528i.

There were 18 B2.8 cars built by Sytner as an "entry level" car to the Alpina experience. It did not have a 218bhp 2.8 litre engine (218 is the bhp for a standard 3.5) but a standard 2.8 fitted with an Alpina exhaust system that raised the power from 184 to 192bhp. Other Alpina mods to the car included suspension and the cosmetics, i.e. dash plaque, spoilers and wheels.

(The Alpina parts came from Germany, and Sytner put them on the cars).

 

64 RHD models of the B9 were produced from October 1982 to January 1985, and Sytners also built 3 LHD cars for export through the Park Lane dealership in October/November 1984.

 

It is perceived knowledge that 26 RHD B10 models were produced but Sytners only have records of 23.

 

 

From the E30 3-series models the following non-Buchloe Alpina converions were available:

The “Alpina 3” (based on complete E30 modelrange without 325i), and the

“Alpina Sportpack 325i”.

Most of the converions comprised of the usual Alpina items like spoilers, badges, steeringwheels and gearleaverknob’s, and Alpina rims.

However, the 325i model had an Alpina camshaft and a different engine-management, so power was up on the standard 325i.

 

BMW 7-series cars:

 

From a forum I derived the following information:

 

The B9 was the German Alpina, B10 (E23 / E28) was the UK equivalent, Sytners produced the B10 to fill a gap left by BMW due to them not supplying the turbo 745 to these shores.

                          

Germany never had a B10 E28 or E23, they stuck with the B9's.

 

You could have a manual or an auto, although most were auto's.

 

You have to remember that when a German buyer chose his (or hers) Alpina, they bought a base car first that was then sent to Alpina for its conversion. The earlier B8's were based on the 732's, the B9's on the 733 and then the 735, but IF a UK buyer bought a B9, it was based on the current 728! (This engine was completely removed and replaced here in the UK). So you could have a wide range of BMW extra's and then add the required Alpina extra's, so manual or an auto, it was down to buyers choice.

 

The only requirement Alpina gave was it had to have an LSD.

 

The plaque would alomost certinly be in front of the passenger on these cars, especially the German cars

 

The ‘90s.

 

Also from a forum:

 

E36 coupe based on the 325i

The “Alpina” B2.5

 

Sytner made approximately 200. Tweaked ECU, cams and exhaust plus some dressy bits.

Price was around another £7000 on top of a 325i coupe.

 

It seems that there have been quite an amount of very special UK-only Alpina and BMW models over the years, perhaps even today?

 

I hope some forum members can add some interesting information to the above for me.

 

Many thanks, best wishes and the kindest regards from Holland,

 

Ronald, 

 

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stephenperry View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote stephenperry Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-January-2007 at 14:04

Hi Ronald,

Unfortunately this section is very quiet, there is much more activity at the officially affiliated Alpina Register and forum.

If you copy and paste your question there you are more likely to find the information you seek.

Forum:

http://www.thealpinaforum.com

Main Page:

http://www.thealpinaregister.com

Another excellent source is James Taylors BMW Alpina book:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Alpina-Crowood-Autoclassics-James-Ta ylor/dp/1861267606



Edited by stephenperry

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NL E12 M535i Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-January-2007 at 15:33

Hello Stephen,

Many thanks for your tip.

I've already send these questions to one of the founders of the Alpina register UK by e-mail, but he has not yet had the chance or time to reply.

I'll await his response.

In the mean time I thought it might be best to try and spread my chances, so that's why I also posted here.

Best wishes,

Ronald.

 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Horsetan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-June-2007 at 16:23
One of them for sale HERE

Edited by Horsetan

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NL E12 M535i Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-June-2007 at 11:46

Many thanks for the link.

Very interesting indeed, car looks in excellent shape!

Best wishes,

Ronald

 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Michael Boss Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-May-2011 at 13:23

Hello, I own one of the 10 bmw633csi hallmark limited edition, This was upgraded and is one of the ten that was built to alpina specification by TWR. It is currently off the road due to family. I intend to have it restored,it has bilstien gas filled shocks,the upgrade from TWR gave it a 282 degree shrick highlift camshaft which increased the BHP. It has the original aplina spoiler,17inch alpina wheels.before my boys were born i had an agreed value of £10,000 for insurance. I have had this resprayed and added new doors,new front wings,,but unfortunately this was a long time ago, about 10years. It has been off road for about 7 years now. I would consider selling it,,but my thoughts are to have it restored as i know the value will only go up once restored. I have all the full bmw service history with it,and when i had it on the road,,it was serviced by Godfrey Hall, BMW dealer in Coventry. because of the milage,,(about 185000 miles) I had a brand new engine from BMW germany fitted and installed from Godrey Hall. I know is had a racing Diff in the car but not sure which was installed.I may have other information if you are interested. I have all service records and this car has really been looked after. Now, obviously there are some signs of rust,,but i have taken apart many things to waxoil the car where i can. It will still need a full restoration for it to be in immaculate conditon again, but it is my 'BABY'. If i can help any more i will. you can email me direct at m.boss@sky.com  if you wish.

Michael Boss

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