Walking Through the History of Alpina

Table of Contents

Overview of Alpina

Alpina is a well-known German-based automobile manufacturer that produces high-quality, high-performing vehicles in collaboration with BMW. It is basically a family-owned, medium-sized automobile company. This car brand was launched in 1965 and continued to produce distinct vehicles that they receive unfinished from BMW.

Their vehicles often feature signature design elements, unique suspension systems, exclusive materials, and a smooth balance between luxury and sportiness. However, their vehicles are produced in limited quantities only.

While all that is true, you must be curious to know how Alpina started and how it collaborated with BMW. Let’s find it together in this article.

The History of Alpina (1965-Present)

When we look into the history of Alpina, it’s clear that we cannot separate it from that of BMW’s. Their vehicles are BMWs, having a little Alpina touch. As stated earlier, this brand was started in 1965 by Burkard Bovensiepen.

Beginnings 1962

They first made a Weber dual carburetor for the BMW 1500.

1964 Weber Dual Carburetor

This impressed the Head of BMW Sales and thus gained official certification in 1964.

1965 Incorporation

The Alpina Burkard Bovensiepen KG was finally established in Kaufbeuren, Bavaria, the following year. Initially, they were into typewriters and had only eight employees.

However, the original Alpina was closed as they eventually moved into textiles and automobiles. They established the BMW tuning business and continued working on carburetors and revised cylinder heads. Alpina also focused on crankshafts to improve the BMW engine’s efficiency. Their employee number increased to 70 by 1970, and they also changed their location to Buchloe.

Alpina Logo 1967

Their work also inspired Alpina’s logo, which displays the Weber carburetor.

Alpina Touring Car Racing

The years between 1968 and 1977 proved super lucky for Alpina as their vehicles continued to perform exceptionally well in different competitions, and Pilots Jacky Ickx, Niki Lauda, Brian Muir, Derek Bell, Harald Ertl, and Hans Stuck¸ James Hunt were on ALPINA’s payroll.

Alpina Winning the European Touring Car Championship

In 1970, the team’s vehicles won the German Hillclimb Championship, the European Touring Car Championship, the prestigious Spa 24 Hours, and the rally and track racing championships.

Motorsport Alpina Victories

Derek Bell, Harald Ertl, Niki Lauda, and Brian Muir won a racing competition European Touring Car Championship for ALPINA and BMW. Niki Lauda drove a particular type of BMW called the ALPINA Lightweight Coupé and set a new record for a race that lasted six hours.

Alpina officially began making road cars in 1983. This is why finding models of the late 1900s is rather complicated. And ever since, Alpina has been officially recognized by the German Federal Ministry of Transport as a vehicle manufacturer. Moreover, this automobile brand is not registered under BMW but can be serviced at BMW dealerships.

Fast forward to 2021, Alpina manufactured over 2,000 vehicles in the year 2021 alone. This also turned out to be the most successful year in the company’s history.

The Initial Alpina Model

The first prominent model we can talk about is B10.

This one can be considered a high-performing version of the BMW 5 Series E34 executive car. This B10 Bi-Turbo was mostly produced between 1989 and 1994. It won’t be wrong to say that it was the fastest-running sedan of its time.

They also tuned their C1 and C2 with the E23 3 series; this was initially done to give a power boost, which can be seen in the E30 M3.

How is Alpina Different?

Alpina develops engines of its own, and they are often more powerful and efficient than their BMW counterparts. They fine-tune the suspension, work on the design element, and make handcrafted interiors. They are known to produce customized models of luxury brands. However, the BMW Alpina models are quite different from those of the original ones. Their vehicles also have more focus on higher torque touring and come with their own Alpina-style shiftable ZF automatic transmissions. Let us see why Alpina’s vehicles are different and unique from most other vehicles.

Alpina’s Craftsmanship

When purchasing a BMW vehicle, the customers are given the choice of going for handcrafted upholstery. The BMW Alpina vehicle thus provides a more luxurious interior with customized handcrafted liners, seams, stitching, and embossments. Moreover, the Alpina vehicles offer a unique kind of Lavalina leather upholstery, which is used less frequently in other brands’ vehicles. This leather is known for temperature balancing and humidity control, along with the top level of comfort.

Alpina’s logo

Alpina’s logo is unique and different from that of BMW’s. It features a prominent blue and green color scheme that looks visually striking. It is also a nod to the brand’s Bavarian heritage and connection to nature. There is also a complete circle surrounding the letter “A,” and it signifies completeness and continuous improvement. This logo is thoroughly integrated into the vehicle’s design, such as on the wheel and the front grille.

History of the Alpina Logo

1967: First ALPINA Logo

Right: Camshaft

Left: Dual carburetor

1971

Right: Crankshaft

Left: Dual carburetor

1974

Right: Crankshaft

Left: Single throttle

Since 2002: ALPINA Logo 3D version

It’s the logo that makes its vehicles instantly recognizable, thus contributing to its uniqueness and distinctiveness.

Alpina’s Prototyping and Engineering

Engines used in the BMW Alpina models are all crafted by hand. This brand is the true representation of “manu-facture,” which means “handmade.” After thorough research and development, their products are made, that too by trained employees. Hence, the BMW Alpina vehicles are basically the high-performing versions of the original BMW models.

Moreover, all the parts and designs you see in Alpina BMW vehicles are made from scratch. This is done to improve the aerodynamics and meet the efficiency requirements. Several tests are carried out before the final product is released. It ensures every part fulfills all the modern requirements.

Alpina and BMW – The Merge

BMW’s lifelong tuner, Alpina, is now merging with it permanently, bringing its tuning firm in-house after about 50 years of successful collaboration. BMW announced this in March 2022. Their contract has been extended till 25 December 2025.

After the mentioned date, the factory situated in Buchloe will be shut down, and BMW will be responsible for assisting the employees in finding new placements. While all this information has been disclosed, there’s no information regarding the exact figure concerning to this deal.

BMW always starts the manufacturing of Alpina vehicles in its own factory first, then later shifts them to Alpina’s factory in Buchloe for modifications and final assembly of the vehicles. As BMW has now acquired Alpina, most of this work will be brought in-house.

It won’t be wrong to say that Alpina’s success in 2021 impressed BMW and compelled it to finally take that big step. BMW also didn’t hesitate in mentioning that the future can turn out to be super tough for small manufacturers like Alpina, majorly due to the electrification of vehicles. BMW did all this to preserve the brand through and through so that it could continue delivering high-end luxury vehicles.

Bovensiepen, the CEO and owner of Alpina, says that we are well aware of the future challenges that small automobile companies like Alpina may fall into. To cope with that, he says, we took preventive measures to secure Alpina, which is their family firm. He also mentions how working with BMW for so long developed trust between the companies, and they are happy they didn’t have to sell Alpina to just any company.

BMW Alpina Vehicles

Over the years, Alpina remained successful in turning some of the most incredible BMW models into super monsters that people loved even after years of its production. It won’t be wrong to say that some Alpina models are faster than ever, even more than BMW M vehicles.

While we are on BMW Alpina vehicles, why not look at some of the best Alpina models?

  1. Alpina C1

It is one of the first three Alpina models that was primarily based on the E21 323i coupé and holds the strength to deliver 168 horsepower and 166 lb-ft of torque. C1 was faster than most of the vehicles of that time, as it could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds.

This vehicle was then updated to the C2 model, and its power boosted to 190 and 210 hp. Since this one came with a lot of improvements, it has a maximum speed of 137 mph.

  • Alpina V8 Roadster

This model by Alpina was based on the BMW Z8 Roadster and did not receive good ratings in general. This model by BMW has a platform similar to the E39 M5. But Alpina’s V8 Roadster came with a smaller and less mighty 4.8-liter V8 engine merged with an automatic transmission.

This one has an amazing design and tried overcoming most of the Z8’s shortcomings by introducing practical solutions. For instance, Alpina focused on making this vehicle a grand tourer instead of going with a sports convertible. Similar attention was also given to its suspension to make it less harsh than it originally was.

  • Alpina XB7

It won’t be wrong to say that the Alpina XB7 is one of the most exclusive BMW SUVs, having a V8 engine with 8-speed automatic transmission that is capable of delivering 612 horsepower @ 5500 rpm. It turned out to be the most family-friendly vehicle as it can accommodate 7 people. It is aesthetically appealing on the outside and super comfortable on the inside.

Here is the list of the important Alpina vehicle models produced over time.

ModelProduction YearApproximate Units Produced
Alpina B31987 – Present243
Alpina B52005 – Present250
Alpina B72016 – 20221,999
Alpina B81979 – 1998221
Alpina B101989–1994507
Alpina B121988–2001505
Alpina Roadster S2004–2006555
Alpina XD32018 – PresentN/A
Alpina XD42019 – PresentN/A
Alpina XD52020 – PresentN/A
Alpina Z82003 – 2004555
Alpina D32005–2008N/A
Alpina D42014 – PresentN/A
Alpina D52017 – Present150
Alpina D62018 – PresentN/A

How to Distinguish an Alpina Vehicle?

Several distinctive features will help you recognize an Alpina vehicle. Although there might be different versions of Alpina alloys, they typically have a multi-spoke design resembling this.

Many Alpina models also have unique trunk lid and door sills badges. These vehicles also feature distinct design characteristics and individual elements, most commonly displaying logos and badges on various car parts and a serial number on a metal plate inside.

Conclusion

Alpina indeed has left an indelible mark on automotive history, starting from its humbling background as a typewriter manufacturer to merging with BMW after being its tuner for several decades; Alpina indeed came a long way. As we walked through its history, one thing remained certain: it is the spirit of excellence that has defined it over time, and it will continue to drive it forward, but now as a part of BMW.

Written by: Motorcardata

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