Classic Car news

A Brief History Of Alpina Cars


Becoming a car manufacturer can happen in a number of ways, as some companies didn’t originally start out with automobiles in mind. A good example is Alpina, who developed typewriters, but eventually transitioned into designing cars alongside BMW. The partnership between both brands has been going for decades, and we’re charting Alpina’s history and how it came to be associated with BMW.

Early days

Alpina’s origins can be traced back to 1962 when company founder Burkard Bovensiepen created a Weber dual carburettor for the BMW 1500. It was enough to impress Paul Hahnemann, Head of BMW Sales. BMW officially certified the product in 1964, fitting the system into a new generation of cars.

In 1965, Alpina Burkard Bovensiepen KG was established in Kaufbeuren. The original products consisted of typewriters, though Alpina gradually moved into textiles and automotives. Bovensiepen set up a BMW tuning factory, building on the carburettor success. It also worked on crankshafts to improve the efficiency of BMW engines. Expansion led to the original factory moving from Kaufbeuren to Buchloe. The work inspired Alpina’s logo, a red and blue badge displaying the Weber carburettor.

Becoming a legitimate car manufacturer

Starting from 1968, Alpina cars competed in racing events, earning many victories. A key win occurred in 1970 when Alpina won the European Touring Championship, the German Hillclimb Championship rally and Spa 24 Hours. Alpina stepped away from racing in 1988 due to engine restrictions.

Alpina cars had several distinctive features: 20 spoke alloy wheels, ‘Alpina Blue’ metallic paint and luxurious interiors. An early example was the Alpina C1, based on the BMW E21 3-series. The car could output 170 hp and reach 0-60 in 7.5 seconds. It featured the typical blue and green Alpina interior pattern found on the seats.

In 1983, Alpina earned car manufacturer status, being recognised by the German Federal Ministry of Transport. Alpina cars are branded as Alpina as opposed to BMW. Alpina vehicles can still be bought at specific BMW dealerships.

Another difference between Alpina and BMW was the greater emphasis on high performance. For example, the Alpina B5 used a supercharged 4.4-litre V8 engine to achieve a powerful amount of torque.

Other brands have been interested in Alpina, such as Jaguar, who wanted to purchase the company at one time. Across the history of the marque, Alpina have never lost sight of their crusade to build fast and powerful machines.

Image Credit: Flickr

Classic Car News, Inside Classics

You also may be
interested in...

Classic Car News

Can you drive a motorhome on a car licence?

Before you take the plunge and buy a motorhome, it’s probably worth checking if you’re actually eligible to drive one on your current driving licence.  For the most part, the year you passed your driving test determines whether or not you’re legally...

Read more Classic Car News, Inside Classics

Keep up to date with our news & blogs

Bike News

Honda Monkey 125 gets a makeover

Honda’s monkey has been a real hit since its rejuvenation back in 2018. And now, the Big H has shown it even more love...

Read more Bike News
Bike News

Honda’s best-selling Super Cub 125 gets an overhaul for 2022

The world’s best-selling motor vehicle is now not only Euro5 compliant, but comes equipped with a whole host of upgrades too.

Read more Bike News
Bike Shows & Events

2021 British Superbike Championship Preview

The British Superbike Championship is one of the most competitive and hard fought domestic motorcycle championships on this planet. And for 2021, it looks likely to be closer than ever.

Read more Inside Bikes, Motorcycle Events

Have some questions? Check out our tips & guides pages for some great information

Motorbike Reviews

Reviewed: Indian FTR 1200 R Carbon

Blending the looks of a dirt track bike with the engine from a cruiser, the Indian FTR1200 R Carbon is an intoxicating blend of big throbbing torque and sticky track day tyres, says Marc Potter.

Read more Bike Reviews
Motorbike Reviews

Reviewed: Aprilia Tuono V4 Factory (2021)

Never mind the supernaked segment, Aprilia’s Tuono V4 has always been one of the most capable, attractive and exciting machines on the market, full stop. And for 2021, Aprilia tell us that they’ve made it even better.

Read more Bike Reviews
Motorbike Reviews

Reviewed: Suzuki GSX-S1000

Often overlooked by its more exotic rivals, despite its overall competence, Suzuki’s GSX-S1000 streetbike has been updated for 2021.

Read more Bike Reviews