For around 60 years, the small-scale tuning manufacturer Alpina has worked in cooperation with BMW, tuning its cars to create unique models that are a cut above normal showroom fare. Now though, Alpina will officially become part of the BMW family.
It’s not the first time a tuning company has become a fully-fledged arm of a major manufacturer’s arsenal - AMG started out as a company making tweaked versions of Mercedes models (and even a Mitsubishi Galant) until it was bought by the German manufacturer in the late 90s.
Alpina is behind some of the coolest versions of BMW’s back catalogue; cars like the Alpina B10 Bi-Turbo based on an E34 535i. The tuning company took its engine from an original 208bhp to an insane-for-the-time 335bhp by adding not one, but two turbochargers. It was even faster than the M5 of the period - the B10 was capable of 180mph while the M5 was limited to 155mph.
BMW has stated that its reasoning behind the acquisition is in part over concerns around the march towards electrification, emissions regulations and driver assistance systems, putting smaller-scale manufacturers at risk. By taking Alpina under its wing, BMW hopes to preserve its legacy for the future, and this suggests we could also see the first electrified Alpina model in the near future.
The tuning company was founded in 1965 in Buchloe, Germany, after founder Burkard Bovensiepen - having tinkered with his BMW 1500 to give it more power - eventually extended his tuning expertise to other BMW owners who felt their cars were underpowered. He eventually caught the attention of BMW who, impressed with Burkard’s work, began extending the BMW factory warranty to cars that he had fettled with, starting a close relationship that has lasted for over half a century.
Although the immediate consequences of the purchase might not seem significant, with manufacturing carrying on from the original Alpina Buchloe factory, and the original BMW-Alpina cooperation agreement continuing until at least 2025, this will clearly be a very new chapter for both BMW and Alpina.