This 1983 Alpina B9 is a Rare Alternative to the BMW M5
When someone says they collect BMWs, you can usually guess the classic roundel-adorned cars in question—a few M3 coupes here, an E24 M6 there, and of course the BMW M5 saloons. This car, however, throws a wrench in that conventional lineup. This is an Alpina B9 3.5, and fans will tell you it is a completely separate car from the E28 5-series sedan upon which it it is based…and they certainly have a point. The B9 sported a BMW 3.5-liter straight-six, a full three years before BMW introduced the big six in the E28 535i. It is claimed that 500 were ever built, between 1981 and 1985, and lo and behold, this eye-catching example recently turned up on eBay. RELATED: Check Out the Imposing 2016 Alpina BMW B6 xDrive
While it’s a story that’s been told before, the origins of Alpina deserve another mention. Alpina, the BMW tuner, came into existence after typewriter manufacturer and industrialist Burkard Bovensiepen began installing a revised intake and dual Weber downdraft carburetors to the BMW 1500 in 1962, unlocking substantially more power and netting the eyes of BMW’s upper echelon. In the years that followed, the BMW-Alpina relationship grew strong through motorsport and soon bore more scintillating cars like the 1600-2 Alpina, the 300-horsepower B7 Turbo, and this B9 5-series.
To turn the early E28 5-series into an edgier animal, Alpina swapped the 528i’s 2.8-liter six in favor of a modified version of the firm’s 3.5-liter mill, which featured a revised cylinder head, higher-compression pistons, new aggressive camshaft, and revamped Motronic fuel injection system. The end result was that the B9 boasted 245 horsepower, 236 lb-ft of torque, a zero to 60 mph dash of 6.7 seconds, and a top speed of 150 miles per hour. Heady stuff for the early 1980s.
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A five-speed Getrag manual gearbox managed the B9’s hair-raising performance, put to the ground with the help of Bilstein suspension components and 16-inch wheels. An automatic was optional. As with many Alpinas, the B9’s interior received an injection of high luxury, and came fitted with bespoke upholstery, Recaro seats, special gauges, a new gear knob, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. On the outside, the B9’s red badging complements the addition of an intimidating front splitter and rear spoiler.
This B9 3.5 (said to be #166 of that class of 500) looks to be highly original aside from the aftermarket air filter, and has reportedly only seen 82,642 miles in its lifetime. We'll pose the question, which would you buy—a vintage B9 or a BMW M5?
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