1976 BMW Alpina B6
By 1975, BMW and Burkard Bovensiepen’s Alpina company had a long established and successful partnership in motorsport development and had achieved multiple victories on the track.
Alpina had been selling highly tuned variants of BMW’s engines, suspension and tuning accessories and for some time but, Bovensiepen became concerned that many customers would order a high performance engine, but not upgrade the chassis to cope with the dramatic increase in performance his engines would give.
As most of the products Alpina sold had to be approved by German law under TUV regulations, it was not a huge leap for Alpina to become a fully fledged manufacturer in his own right. Up until now it had not been possible for customers to go direct to Buchloe and order a brand new “BMW Alpina”, but Bovensiepen wanted to ensure that all Alpina products would perform to the highest of his standards.
Chassis Number 4760500 represents one of Alpina’s very first attempts to produce a purpose built, factory “manufactured” car and one of the very few surviving examples from their birth and emergence as a bespoke high performance vehicle manufacturer.
Alpina customers were a special breed of motoring enthusiast who recognised engineering excellence and motorsport success, and could also afford a hand built car.
There were few sales brochures and little marketing material. Sparse records remain from this early period of Alpina’s birth, most of the factory records are no longer available or have not survived. Fortunately, Chassis Number 4760500 lived a cherished life and comes with an amazing catalogue of documents that records its’ first 34 years of existence and provides a glimpse of what it would have been like to be a customer of Alpina back in the mid 1970’s.
- Engine conversion to Alpina B6 – Alpina Engine Number 1673:
- Mahle sports pistons, lightweight balanced crankshaft & conrods, Alpina modified cylinder head, Alpina camshaft and larger diameter exhaust and inlet valves
- Alpina fuel injection system incorporating Zenith fuel distributor and Bosch D jetronic
- Alpina Exhaust system
- Bilstein dampers and Alpina progressive rate springs
- Gearbox changed from 4 speed to 265 Getrag 5 speed close ratio
- Limited slip differential with additional pump and oil cooler
- Alpina adjustable roll bars
- Alpina larger front brakes
- Alpina 7 × 14 inch wheels
- Alpina front spoiler
- Alpina Scheel seats / Alpina Momo steering wheel / Alpina gear knob
- Alpina DEKO stripes / Alpina instruments
- Front tyres from 195/70 HR14 to 195/70 VR14
- Rear tyres from 195/70 HR14 to 195/70 VR14
- Even the noise levels were noted to have changed from 77E to 73N & 81E to 84N
Chassis Number 4760500 was manufactured by BMW in Dingolfing on 20th May 1976.
However, this particular early edition E12 executive saloon was no ordinary 5 series.
Unusually, BMW themselves carried out the PDI on 26th May and registered the car on 27th May 1976 under Fahrzeugbrief Number 58133829. The vehicle was then dispatched directly to Alpina in Buchloe for factory conversion to an Alpina B6. To show the extensive transformation this car undertook, the following modifications were undertaken by Alpina and are recorded in some detail on the Fahrzeugbrief entry dated 9th June 1976.
This all resulted increased engine performance from 165 BHP at 5800 rpm to 200 BHP at 6200 rpm, and maximum speed increased from 198 km/h to 212 km/h
Aside from a full set of service records, we also have a full and original set of “type approval” documents detailing the technical specification of the pioneering Zenith fuel injection system.
These records are stamped and signed on every single page by the German Motor Inspectorate and Alpina. They chart the system development over a 3 month period in late 1975 and in preparation of new emission regulations that were introduced on 21st June 1975 and would eventually come into force on 1st October 1976.
Following modification to Alpina B6, the Fahrzeugbrief was stamped / dated 10th June 1976 as being ready for export. The car was then officially imported to Switzerland on 15th June 1976 and finally first registered to a Fritz W Spinnler on 20th July 1976.
Fritz Spinnler worked as a fuel injection engineer for BBC Brown Boveri and this car was almost certainly his company vehicle. The service book carries the writing “Spinnler Alpina 528i” and like so many company vehicles, does not have the service book stamped during his 5 year period of ownership.
Chassis 4760500 is one of the last and only surviving original factory produced Alpina’s. It is a pleasure to drive and a true flashback to high performance exclusive motoring from the 1970’s.