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Hands of God

October 8, 2017


Although the car was authenticated by Alpina, I assumed the worst – that the engine was not an actual Alpina lump. Yeah, the shell was touched by the Hands of God, but the previous owner who piped-up on BaT said an unethical mechanic pilfered many of the precious parts. I feared the motor suffered that fate.

When the car was finally in my hands, I looked for the four-digit hand-stamped numbers in the block and head. I found nothing, not knowing where to look. My fear of the worst grew, but I knew I’d be able to really inspect it once I pulled it out of the body, and I’d figure it out from the serial number on the block.

Every project – at least every project I’ve done – has a pace, a rhythm; it’s own timing. But taking the engine out stalled. Removing a 2002 motor is easy, especially on a carbureted car. A 323i is a bit more complicated and, frankly, I was intimidated as I couldn’t find an English-language manual. The physically bigger motor, the unfamiliar Bosch K-Jet fuel injection, the lack of instruction on how to go about removing it, and my old-man status making me reluctant to lie on the garage floor under a car – it all added up to a lot of inertia. Motivation was also lacking because I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do with the motor: rebuild it stock or take advantage of advances made since Alpina built it in 1982.