It’s a beautiful car, this Alpina B7 Turbo Coupe, complementing Paul Bracq’s sleek 6 Series design with an aggressive air dam and vintage rubber spoiler. You could spend a pleasant hour or two just contemplating its bodywork, noting how good it looks from every angle, in any light.
Dig a little deeper and it gets more compelling still. Under its hood is a 330-horsepower turbocharged six good for a 5.8-second zero-to-62 mph dash and a 165-mph top speed.
What you can’t see, however, and what the spec sheet will never reveal, is how well this Alpina handles. Plush enough to make potholes and pavement ripples disappear, this Alpina’s Bilstein shocks are also firm enough to provide sporty handling that exceeds even an M car’s. Simply put, it’s some of the best damping I’ve ever experienced on a road car, and it makes this Alpina handle like it’s on rails.
That description may be a cliché, but it’s the one that comes to mind as we wind through the corners on California’s magnificent Highway 58. Like a locomotive whose wheels are fixed in alignment, this E24 Alpina tracks with uncanny precision. Its wheelbase measures 103.5 inches atop track widths of just over 57 inches front and rear, making the car feel long and narrow. Predictably, it’s ultra-stable at speed; surprisingly, it’s also quite nimble in the turns, once the driver adapts to its recirculating ball steering and minimal power assist. It can’t compete with a newer BMW for rapid response and fast direction changes, but it will hustle through the twisties at a brisk rate, nonetheless, should the road and the occasion demand.
More often than not, though, you’ll find yourself seduced by the car’s Grand Touring luxury, by its effortless high speed and fine interior appointments…and by that amazingly supple suspension that imparts an unmistakable feeling of superb engineering and exceptional quality.
Of genius, so to speak.
The last word in E24 performance
We’re driving a 1985 B7 Turbo Coupe/1. Number 012 of 110, the car is owned by Paul DiMauro, an E24 6 Series enthusiast extraordinare who’s one of the forces behind the Pacific Sharkfest celebration of all things E24. He’s been a 6 Series fan since he first laid eyes on one back in 1984, right about the time this Alpina was being built in Buchloe, Bavaria, and he’s owned an M6 since 1998. This car, however, is his pride and joy, representing not just his passion for the 6 Series but the best of Alpina technology in the mid-1980s.
Alpina began working on the 6 Series as soon as BMW’s big coupe rolled off the line in 1976. By 1977, Alpina had introduced its 230-hp B8, which offered a 45-hp gain over the standard 630CS along with other improvements. That car was followed in 1982 by the 245-hp B9 3.5 Coupe and in 1985 by the 261-hp B10, which in 1988 gave way to the 250-hp B11. All naturally aspirated, they pale by comparison to the turbocharged B7 Turbo Coupe, the first iteration of which was built in 1978.