The Alpina B6 2.8, the one that started it all.

Before the BMW E30 M3, there was the Alpina B6 2.8.  After a significant run-up in value, are they still worthwhile to own

In the United States, when we think of fast BMWs, the first and most likely only thing that comes to mind is BMW’s “M” division. However, in Europe, they have another option that became in option for US buyers in only 2002, Alpina.  As a result, only the most avid car fan will know of the Alpina B6 2.8, one of the cars that started it all for Alpina.

While Alpina has only been sold in the United States since 2002 with the introduction of the BMW Alpina V8 Roadster, they have been making BMWs faster and more comfortable for almost 60 years.

In business since 1965, Alpina’s origins can be traced back to Burkard Bovensiepen’s invention of a twin Weber conversion kit for the new BMW 1500 in 1962.  After refining their engineering prowess on the racetracks of Europe throughout the 1970s, Alpina released three models that would establish them as a manufacturer of bespoke BMWs.

In 1978, Alpina released the B6 2.8, based on the BMW E21, The B7 Turbo, based on the BMW E28, and the B7 Turbo Coupe, based on the BMW E24.  The Alpina B6 2.8 added a “big” six-cylinder engine to the BMW E21 when the BMW 3-Series ran four-cylinder engines. However, with only 533 copies of the B6 2.8 manufactured over a five-year production run, it is not often that they come up for sale, and when they do, they are usually located in Europe. The Alpina B6 2.8 shown herein is one such example.

Located in Heeswijk-Dinther, Netherlands, in the Province of North Brabant, Redra Auto Speziale currently has number 111 of 533 for sale. With just over 83,000 km on the vehicle, number 111 is in remarkable shape, considering it has been over 40 years that it left the Alpina factory in Buchloe.


 The Alpina B6 2.8

The Alpina B6 was designed to provide customers with a car that BMW would not produce, namely a two-door 323i with the 2.8-liter six-cylinder engine from the 525i. While the M20B23 six in the top 323i produced 141 horsepower, the 2.8-liter engine in the 528i produced 177 horsepower.  However, Alpina modified the BMW M30B28 engine from the 528i with forged Mahle pistons, better combustion chambers, and a Zenith Pierburg-DL fuel injection system.


What is the engine powering the Alpina B6 2.8?

The engine powering the Alpina B6 2.8 produced 200 horsepower, which was sufficient to propel the vehicle from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 7.5 seconds, accelerating through to a top speed of 140 miles per hour.  However, several testers reported an acceleration time of 6.9 seconds.  The modifications increased not only output but efficiency as well.

In August 1981, the induction system of the Alpina B6 2.8 was updated, producing 218 hp, the same as the BMW’s 3.5-liter engine at the time.


What were other changes to the B6 2.8 over the BMW 323i?

The Alpina B6 2.8 is not just a fancy engine swap.   Several systems were modified to make a driver’s car.  For starters, the e21 323i left the factory with a four-speed Getrag gearbox.

However, Alpina upgraded to a Getrag five-speed transmission.

The Alpina B6 2.8 was equipped with new Bilstein struts with gas-pressure shocks and shorter/stiffer springs from Ahle.

The front brakes were upgraded to ventilated, drilled discs, while the rear brakes were retained from the standard 323i.

The 15-inch Alpina allow wheels are 6″ wide with 195/50 tires up front and 7″ in back with 205/50 tires.

BMW e21 323i

What are the exterior and interior changes to the B6 2.8?

Alpina’s changes to the 323i extended to the interior, where the front seats were replaced with Recaro bucket seats, offering better support. In addition, the steering wheel was covered in leather and made by Momo.

Engine gauges were modified with red needles and a higher speed range to better accommodate the added output of the engine.

On the exterior, the Alpina B6 2.8 was modified with new front and rear spoilers, Alpina wheels, and optional Alpina stripes.


About number 111

The B6 2.8 looks to be in remarkable condition.  It looks like the Zenith Pierburg-DL fuel injection system has been replaced with a bank of independent throttle bodies (ITBs), which I am sure makes for an incredible auditory experience.

Number 111 was delivered in 1980 with several options, including a sunroof, green-tinted glass, limited-slip differential, power steering, and a passenger-side electric door mirror.


What is the value of the Alpina B6 2.8?

These automobiles slipped under the spotlight for a long time, and in the early 2000s, it wasn’t uncommon for them to change hands for less than $30,000. However, like the BMW E30 M3 and E28 M5, they have shot up in value in recent years, trading hands for around $80,000.

In 2018, a very original (#62 of 533) grey market import with 73,000 miles sold on the same site for $80,000.

The example (#111 of 533) profiled here is available for the equivalent of $83,000.

In May 2021, a heavily modified 1979 Alpina B6 2.8 sold for $42,250.  The engine that came with the car was replaced with a 3.8-liter M30 engine that underwent a color change.

Concluding thoughts

The Alpina B6 2.8 is a special car from a special company. The remaining available units recently saw a significant run-up in value.  However, with only 533 units made over a 5-year production run, their rarity and desirability make it difficult to gauge whether they will increase in value any further.

Photo credit: Redra Auto Speziale




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