All change at Alpina, as BMW ownership reshapes its future

All change at Alpina, as BMW ownership reshapes its future

The passing of Alpina founder Burkard Bovensiepen in October must seem particularly symbolic to fans of Alpina’s uniquely classy take on go-faster BMWs.


‘WE’LL BECOME THE OPPOSITE’

All change at Alpina, as BMW ownership reshapes its future


Aged 86, his death comes only 18 months after Alpina announced the sale of naming rights to BMW and just two years before the final Buchloe- built Alpina leaves the line, after which BMW takes production inhouse. Despite record production figures, Alpina’s decision was prompted by forthcoming development costs for electrified powertrains and driver-assistance systems. Burkard was Alpina, growing the company from an aftermarket Weber carb upgrade in 1965 to a manufacturer in its own right by 1983. He even pushed BMW to develop a lighter version of the 2800 CS for racing, lighting the fuse on the 3.0 CSL ‘Batmobile’ E9.

Andreas Bovensiepen remembers his father as a ‘visionary, a perfectionist and a man of clear ideas’ who adopted the ‘latest techniques like fuel injection, computer injection and catalytic convertors’ and had a knack for spotting future trends. Now it falls to Andreas – already at the helm for some time with younger brother Florian – to continue that legacy. Growing up in the early 1970s, Andreas was steeped in Alpina’s halcyon motorsport era, when drivers including Derek Bell and Niki Lauda helped win ETCC titles in 1970, 1973 and 1977, first in the BMW 2002 and 2800 CS, later that CSL.

‘The racecars were prepared only 200 metres away from where we lived in Buchloe,’ remembers the qualified engineer and business graduate who joined the family firm in 2002 after a stint at BMW’s FIZ R&D centre. ‘Even at night you could hear an engine running on the dyno or when a fresh engine was started for the first time.’

It’s the end of an era, then, but not the end of Burkard’s legacy. Alpina Classic, which will remain wholly independent, has set its sights on the 25,000 or so Alpinas that remain of approximately 60,000 produced since the B6 2.8 debuted in 1978.

Alpina Classic has already reintroduced spares and accessories, including E30 3-series alloys, aerodynamic parts and Garrett turbochargers for the E34 Alpina B10 Biturbo. Ending new-car production will also free up capacity for full restorations.

‘We have completed some restoration projects before – last year we finished a two-year restoration of a 1981 6-series Coupe B7S Turbo for a Japanese customer, which we completely dismantled, rebuilt and painted,’ reveals Andreas. ‘But mostly we use a maximum of two car lifts in the workshop, so for now we cannot fulfil a lot of wishes, including European customers who’d like to have their cars serviced at the birthplace.

From 2026 our business will be almost the opposite of today.’

Engine, suspension and interior overhauls will be completed on-site, with bodywork out-sourced to a long-trusted partner. The intention is to retain comparable floorspace and staffing levels (currently 300 or so) with younger mechatronic- trained technicians re-educated in the more mechanical art of rebuilding components such as engines, gearboxes and rear axles.

Upgrades are already part of the masterplan – the Japanese B7 was enhanced with modern ignition and fuel-injection systems – and even restomods are under consideration (EV swaps are thankfully ruled out). Sadly there are no plans to recreate classic Alpinas from scratch. ‘This is an interesting idea,’ concedes Andreas, ‘but tooling for several hundred parts for an Alpina conversion and other BMW parts are no longer available, so it’s just not realistic.’

More viable are models sold over the last decade that represent both the majority of Alpina production and the bulk of the remaining fleet, so expect to see these cars ‘refurbished with new wheels, aerodynamic parts and new upholstery, including Alpina cloth interiors’.

The Bovensiepens will also continue to nurture their Lotus-style engineering consultancy, already established for a decade to specialise in chassis, steering and stability control tuning, plus engine tuning and emissions compliance. Close co-operation with BMW will continue for future Alpina products.

For now, though, there are two more years of built-in-Buchloe Alpinas, best ever annual sales of 2200 units and a healthy order book as the clock ticks down.

BMWs, but just a precious bit better

GROWING UP, THE RACECARS WERE BUILT ONLY 200 METRES FROM WHERE WE LIVED. YOU’D HEAR THEM AT NIGHT
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