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Sleuthing the car (how I found my Alpina)

September 1, 2017

I’m a serial renovator – you know the type, I buy run-down houses, live in it for a bit, fixing up a house I couldn't otherwise afford. And after about five or 10 years, I sell the house and move on to the next project. What does it have to do with this Alpina? Well, I’m the same with cars.

I buy old BMWs, and do a resto-mod, mostly on 2002tiis. I modify them, often with vintage Alpina parts that I had squirreled away over the years. Most recently I built an Inka 2002 touring with virtually every Alpina part available back in the day, including a complete Alpina A4 four-throttle, kugelfischer-based, mechanical fuel injection system (sporting the appropriate personalized plate FAUX A4).

While it’s fun building faux Alpinas, I’ve had a hankering for a real, honest to God Buchloe-built Alpina. For years I’ve been looking for the right car but it’s always alluded me; they either weren’t California legal or a real Alpina. The few that ticked both boxes were too expensive or too much of a project for a shade-tree mechanic like me.

One random morning, while drinking my coffee and reading an email blast from Bring-a-Trailer, I spotted a listing for one of my favorite Alpinas – an e21-based C1 2.3 ( The pictures weren’t the most revealing, but it looked decent. The interior was pretty much all there but old: disheveled, faded, and cracked. The