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On the face of it, £4495 looks steep for what is, essentially, a 15yo old 5-series BMW. All the more so when you think that used-car buyers typically favour BMWs having the smaller, six-cylinder engines over the bigger V8s, such as this. However, there’s much more to this car, offered for sale by our friends at Atherstone Garage, Warwickshire, than a first glance brings. For, strictly speaking, it would be incorrect even to describe it as a BMW. ‘Alpina’ is much more than tuning package: in Germany, it is regarded as a car manufacturer in its own right. While its cars begin life on a BMW production line, they go part-assembled to Alpina for work on the engine, running gear and interior before returning to the ‘home’ factory to be finished and sold.
Look at the V5 registration document for such a cars and it should be named as an ‘Alpina’ rather than a ‘BMW’. I think by now you’ll be getting some idea that this vehicle is pretty special. After all, Alpina is a strictly low- volume, high-value specialist set up. And this model’s 2014 equivalent, new, costs from £75,170. Where BMW’s own ‘M’ division has always been about producing focussed, grippy, road-legal versions of racing saloons, Alpina leans more towards relaxed, accelerative, high speed performance. Alpinas, for instance, always have automatic gearboxes.
This one’s big V8 engine will deliver lots of low-revs push but it will also cruise quietly at motorway speed. Its wood-and-leather cabin emphasises comfort and luxury while its built-in sat-nav (an innovation in period – this car dates from 1999, remember) also suggests that it is intended for long journeys. There are examples out there of vehicles dressed up as Alpinas, tacking wheels and trim on to an otherwise standard 5-series. But this one has the correct ‘Turbine’ wheels, the badge on the steering boss and above all, the right engine for the car, all of which indicates that this should be the genuine article.
While a service history is a must when buying such a car (which this one has), this is never going to be one to buy unless you are willing to spend plenty on its upkeep. That said, keep it well protected to keep corrosion at bay, and serviced well and properly and it will lose little of its value as the years pass. It’s low key enough to look, to our eyes, quite classy and interesting enough to keep its next owner happy. Will that be you?
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