1992 BMW ALPINA B10 Bi-TurboView vehicle description
1992 BMW ALPINA B10 Bi-Turbo
Alpina, or Alpina Burkard Bovensiepen GmbH & Co. KG to give the company its full title, is a factory endorsed manufacturer of high-performance BMWs. In fact, the quality of its work is so high that, in contrast to more tuning automotive firms, Alpina has been known to build its cars alongside regular production models on the BMW assembly line.
The B10 E34 you’re looking at here was designed and built for the customer for whom an M5 was a bit too common, a bit too mainstream; Alpina customers have always preferred to plough their own furrow, and the sort of person that would have chosen one of these over the (admittedly very, very good) production M5 is one of us.
Costing $3.2m in development costs, this bi-turbo version is based on the 535i but the changes were extensive: the six-cylinder M30 engine was stripped down and rebuilt with, among many other changes, new Mahle pistons, two Garrett T25 turbochargers and a Bosch variable boost control. Power rose from 208bhp to 355bhp, with torque rising by 150lb.ft to a whopping 384lb.ft, necessitating the installation of a Getrag five-speed gearbox to handle it.
Performance was, er, ‘improved’. The top speed was now in excess of three miles per minute at full chat and the B10 could pass the benchmark 60mph in under five and a half seconds.
As recent events have shown, power is nothing without control and Alpina didn’t stint here either. Alpina-specific springs and anti-roll bars were fitted plus Bilstein dampers on the front and Fichtel & Sachs self-levelling units at the rear. Huge front brake discs were fitted on the front, discs that were an inch larger than the ones BMW fitted to the M5. Alpina is nothing if not thorough.
Just 507 were built, which isn’t surprising given it cost twice the price of a factory M5. Still, no less an authority than Paul Frere of Road & Track wrote of it: “For me this is the car … I think this is the best 4-door in the world.”
First registered in 1992, this BMW Alpina B10 Bi-Turbo is finished in Dark Sapphire Blue Metallic. It also features the wonderfully named ‘Alpina Wasserbüffel’, or Water Buffalo, black hide interior.
Number 376 in the series and a genuine UK car (1 of only 2 delivered to these shores), this left-hand-drive example has covered just 117,000 miles/188,000kms and was the subject of a comprehensive mechanical and coachwork refresh in 2016, followed by more mechanical work in late 2020.
In the care of the vendor for the past 18 years, he estimates he’s invested around £35-40,000 in it in that time, which makes our guide price look ridiculously good value...
On the Outside
The bodywork is very good indeed with straight panels, ripple-free flanks, and tight, consistent shutlines. Classic Heroes carried out some bodywork restoration in 2016, and the work was clearly carried out to its usual high standards because the B10 still looks fabulous, even six years later.
The work comprised new front wings, with new metal being let into the nearside and offside inner and outer sills, too. The nearside rear wheelarch was cut out and replaced as well, and the offside rear door shut was attended to.
The rear wings were brought back to bare metal, as was the front panel, front crossmember, and inner front wings. All was made good before the car was resprayed
The underside wasn’t neglected with the rear sub-frame being removed to allow full access to the underside, which was de-rusted, undersealed, and Waxoyl’d. The labour cost alone was nearly £7,000 with paint, consumables, and panels all being extra.
This was a Proper Job.
The Alpina bodywork and decals are all still present and correct and go a long way to giving the Alpina its understated menace, a menace somewhat lightened by the Dark Sapphire Blue Metallic paintwork, which is in super condition.
The 17-inch alloy wheels are in a fabulous shape and free of any signs of kerbing (not sure we’ve ever seen a kerbed Alpina wheel, now we think about it…) As you’d expect, all four are fitted with matching tyres, Falken Azenis in this case.
We will never get tired of telling you that experience shows that matching high-quality tyres are an infallible sign of a caring and mechanically sympathetic owner who is prepared to spend the appropriate amount in maintaining their car properly. Their presence does not, of course, preclude the need for a thorough inspection - something the vendor would welcome, by the way – but it does perhaps give you a shortcut into their attitude towards maintenance.
There are flaws, of course including some scratches to the nearside rear corner (#74) and offside front (#127), a mark on the nearside rear door (#80), and a touched-in chip on the bonnet (#128).
We’d welcome you here in person to double-check our assessment; please use the ‘Contact Seller’ button to make an appointment.
On the Inside
The Black Buffalo leather interior is absolutely terrific, balancing retro, sporting, and luxurious brilliantly. The heavily bolstered, leather-trimmed Recaro seats are enhanced with Alpina stripes, a theme that’s also reflected in the door cards and over-mats.
They’re electrically operated and heated too, and as comfortable and supportive as you’d expect to find in a car that’s equally content on the autobahn or track.
There’s plenty of polished wood too, and a matching gearknob for the five-speed Getrag manual gearbox. The dashboard, door cards, and carpets all look good.
Oh, and there’s an adjustable boost pressure control, labelled ‘Ladedruck’ on the centre console, which is a nice touch.
We’ve rated its condition as being good but then that’s no more than you’d expect given Alpina owners tend to be unusually fastidious and painstaking in the way they look after their cars.
Of course, there is some wear to the front seats but what there is is modest and still way less than you’d expect to see in a car that’s well into its fourth decade. If anything, we think the patina adds to the car’s character and is infinitely preferable to one that’s been retrimmed and had the soul ripped out of it. After all, we’re all romantics at heart, aren’t we?
The boot, which houses the Alpina spare alloy wheel and tool kit, also contains a few spares; please see the photos for details.
Faults? Well, the rear left window doesn’t go up as it should and there is some wear to the gearknob (#89). There are some scuffs to the rear of the front seats too (#198 and #208) and the B-pillar trim (#248), and the headlining is drooping at the rear (#257).
The owner drove it to our HQ near Abingdon from his home in the north-east, a journey we envy him for. He told us that it “drives wonderfully”.
As you can see in the video, the Alpina starts very well and ticks over and revs as it should. The straight-six engine makes a lovely noise, as does the exhaust, which is deep and resolute and fruity.
The ‘Check Control’ light is illuminated, so that will need investigating.
The underbonnet sound-deadening is in good shape, and the engine itself is neat and clean rather than prissy and over-detailed.
The underside contains some corrosion, so could do with wire-brushing and undersealing sooner rather than later.
Slide 385 shows the work Classic Heroes carried out in 2016, work that amounts to a proper refresh. Please take the time to go through it line by line to appreciate just how thorough this was.
More recently, in December 2020, the same firm carried out £5,400-worth of work including a full service, a new Sachs racing clutch, two new Falken tyres, rebuilt front brake calipers, refurbished rear dampers, plus miscellaneous other fettling. Please see sheets #436-438 for details.
There are also plenty of older invoices for work carried out over the years, supporting the owner’s claim that the car has been very well looked after during its lifetime.
It also comes with the book pack and wallet plus two sets of keys.
The Alpina’s MoT certificate is valid until August 2023 and was gained, just like it did last year, with no advisory points being raised.
What We Think
With the price of good BMW E34 M5s reaching £50,000 or more, the canny car enthusiast is looking for a cleverer way to enjoy a fast(er) & rarer E34 - and the Alpina B10 is one of the better ways to do so despite costing twice what the factory car did, back in the day.
With a guide price of between £30,000 and £40,000, this is not a cheap Alpina B10 but it is arguably the pinnacle & you are very unlikely to ever bump into another one; remember, price is what you pay and value is what you remember - and this is a much more interesting way of investing than any number of ISAs, shares, or fixed-rate bonds…
Viewing is always encouraged, and this particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; we are open weekdays 9am-5pm, to arrange an appointment please use the Contact Seller button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.
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- Location: Bonhams|Cars Online HQ, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom
- Seller Type: Private
- Odometer Reading: 188043km
- Chassis Number: WAPBATL002B750 376
- Engine: 3500
- Gearbox: Manual
- Steering position: Left-hand drive
- Colour: Dark Sapphire Blue Metallic
- Interior: Black Buffalo Leather
- Estimated Price: £30,000 - £40,000