Alpina B6 3.5S, The Ultimate BMW E30 M3

The most exclusive and desirable of BMW e30 M3s is the Alpina B6 5.3S.  With only 62 ever made, they are highly coveted.   Here is why they are so special

Perfect balance, a 7,000 rpm redline, a long history of competitive success, these are the facts that make the BMW e30 m30 a legend in motorsports circles and a worthwhile investment.  As their numbers have dwindled, they have become increasingly rare and desirable collector cars.

The 2.3-liter 4-cylinder, 16 valve DOHC S14 engine is just part of the vehicle’s iconic status.  The other, is its driving dynamics and handling capabilities.  While collectors associate the E30 M3 with the 4-cylinder 16-valve  S14 engine, there is a version that is more much more desirable and rare powered by BMW’s bulletproof and silky-smooth M30, the Alpina B6 3.5S.

Alpina, the manufacturer

Alpina is to BMW what Ruf is to Porsche and what AMG used to be to Mercedes before they were bought out.  These companies are beyond tuners, they are recognized as manufacturers in their motherland.  In other words, every vehicle they touch is sold under their own brand complete with a new vehicle identification number (VIN).

While BMW’s M is known for performance and its racing pedigree, Alpina is known for their engineering prowess and refined performance.  While available in the United States within the last few years through the BMW dealer network, Alpina has made high-performance versions of BMW cars since the early 1970s.

The Alpina B6 3.5S

The vehicle that many say is Alpina’s best efforts is the B6 3.5S.  It combined the performance of the powerful and silky smooth M30 six-cylinder engine with the handling characteristics of the E30 M3.  With only 62 vehicles produced between November 1987 and December 1998, it is highly sought after by collectors around the world.

Engine and drivetrain

The engine powering the B6 3.5S is BMW’s bulletproof and silky smooth 3.5-liter M30 engine.  Thoroughly massaged by Alpina, output is increased 36 hp from 218 hp to 254 hp.  Alpina’s magic to the M30 consisted of custom Mahle pistons and rods and a ported and polished cylinder head containing a hotter cam.

Power is put to the pavement through a Getrag 5-speed “sportgeitriebe” or “dogleg” gearbox.  It is a high performance close-ratio gearbox with first gear at the bottom left.

The Alpina B6 3.5S was able to rocket from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 6.6 seconds accelerating to a top speed of 251 km/hr.  This was 3 km faster than BMW’s top version of the E30 M3, the 2.5-liter M3 Sports Evolution.  In contrast, the E30 M3 powered by the S14 took 6.5 seconds to vault from 0 to 62 miles per hour.

Chassis and suspension

Suspension and handling characteristics are defining features in the E30 M3 and close to perfect.  As a result,  the only change that Alpina makes is to swap the front springs with the springs used on the E30 M3 with air conditioning.  This is done to accommodate the added weight of the M30 engine.

The brakes stopping the B6 3.5S are the same ones that the E30 M3 leaves the factory with.  However, the wheels are exchanged for Alpina’s signature 21 fin 18-inch wheels shod with 225/45 tires on all four corners.

The exterior of the B6 3.5S also remains largely unchanged from when it left the BMW factory.  However, the trademark art-deco side striping and 21-fin Alpina wheels were optionally available.

Inside of the car, the seats were swapped for new seats with Alpina stripes, leather covered steering wheel, Alpina-themed gear shift knob and digital instruments.

To really appreciate the pedigree that the B6 3.5S represents, one must also appreciate what is Alpina and its racing heritage.  As a life-long BMW fan, this in my mind is one of the ultimate BMWs ever produced.

What do you think?  Is the B6 3.5S overrated and worthy of the attention?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

A video in German about an Alpina collector.



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