Friday, May 24, 2024

The world's fastest sedan in 1989: We choose the Alpina B10 BiTurbo

The Alpina B10 BiTurbo was named the world's fastest 4-door sedan in 1989. We drive the rare cult car on a set of Danish country roads bathed in the summer sun.

Alpina is to BMW what RUF is to Porsche and what Brabus is to Mercedes. They are all tuning companies that have close relations with a certain car company, and in Alpina's case, the good relations between them and BMW have lasted since the company's start-up in 1965, Bil Magasinet writes. And today we got behind the wheel of one of the brand's most iconic models: the Alpina B10 Bi-turbo from 1989. You know, the one that was voted the world's fastest 4-door sedan in the same year! Retained the strict lines of the E34 The E34 generation of BMW's 5 series has a strict design. If you ask me, it's one of the most beautiful BMWs ever built. It's so classic in its lines, and even today such a car gives respect to drive around in. But this one is now something very special, because the logo on the back shows that this was the car I dreamed of when I could write my age one digit. I remember how my father, brother and I played car cards. However, we knew very well that whoever had the root Alpina B10 BiTurbo always won the game. To emphasize its status, it was featured on the license plate image alongside a Concorde aircraft – respect! Click 'NEXT PAGE' to read on Biturbo is NOT based on the M5 Two years after the B7 Turbo (based on the old 5 Series of the E28 generation) went to the grave, the B10 appeared as its successor, as Alpina wanted to once again seize the throne as the world's fastest 4-door sedan. Although the B7 Turbo was a serious supersedan, Alpina had spent DKK 20 million of the time on developing the technology further. And that meant there was plenty of news under the tight exterior. When Alpina started, they ordered a brand new 535i E34 from the assembly line in Munich. As soon as it arrived, the engine was peeled out and taken apart. All moving parts were rebalanced or replaced. Mahle supplied a set of forged pistons which were installed along with a system which sprayed oil up the inside of the pistons for increased carbonation and not least lubrication. Biturbo was all new in 1989 The connecting rods were upgraded while the 12 valves were replaced with new ones – the exhaust valves even had a sodium core to help cool them better. A new camshaft was fitted at the same time as Alpina had developed a new intake and exhaust manifold. On the manifold, space was made for two turbos, which was something that raised eyebrows in the automotive world. It was only in 2007 – 18 years later – that BMW launched a model (535d E60) with two turbos. Click 'NEXT PAGE' to read further New spoiler set and markings The exterior also got a turn, of course. A distinctive spoiler was fitted at the rear. However, it was not for fun, as it had to provide stability at high speeds. The chassis was tightened up and the rear axle leveling was recalibrated so that it was ready to move up into the higher air layers of the Autobahn. The large rotary handle in the predecessor B7 Turbo, which adjusts the turbo pressure, has been refined in the successor. Here it's replaced with a small knob you can adjust, just like when you adjust the amount of bass on your expensive stereo. I immediately turn it up, which gives me 360 hp and 520 Nm. Remember that the Ferrari Testarossa of the time only had 30 hp more. B10 BiTurbo feels refined As soon as I set off in the messy B10 BiTurbo, it is a completely different chore experience that mothers me. Where the B7 Turbo feels like a heavily tuned BMW, the B10 seems far more refined. This is a car that might as well be short from BMW's own factory halls. The test car has been specified by the Alpina factory with thick buffalo leather, which still feels delicious and extremely exclusive. The new price was also quite a bit above what a similar BMW M5 cost. In Denmark, you could get a BMW M5 in the garage if you paid the price of DKK 1,148,835 in 1990. If you would rather have an Alpina B10 BiTurbo, you would have to pay at least DKK 1.5 million. DKK Click 'NEXT PAGE' to read on Alpina got Getrag to develop a new gearbox. The 5-speed gearbox was specially developed for the car by Getrag, and it shifts easily and elegantly between shifts. The clutch is slightly tighter than usual, which is because it is reinforced to be able to withstand the torque. However, it is not so bad that you need to go to strength training. An Alpina B10 BiTurbo can be driven in a livery. The electric sports seats from Recaro provide good support, and from here you have a perfect view of the instruments. Just as in the predecessor, more have been added. You can e.g. followed by the temperature of engine and gear oil as well as oil and charge pressure. The difference is just that in the B10 they are integrated in the most exemplary way. It's actually hard to tell, these instruments are not standard in the E34 model, so well are they incorporated. First loses breath at 290 km/h Everything breathes peace in the cabin. The air conditioning maintains a constant and relaxed temperature, and all the luxuries you could get in a passenger car in 1989 are present. But we have to do it – feel what this car is built for. I slow down, go into second gear, lower my right foot and then hold on until the red needle reads 6,000 rpm in the instrument in front of me. The push in the back is massive. Between gear changes, it lets out a “whooosh!” and takes another deep breath. The sound is not aggressive, as on the M5 of the time, which craves revs. The tones are more subdued and deep. It is clear that there is a large power plant out front, which wants to move forward in the outer track. The speed is already way over the limit, and I will have to stop the speed party early if I still want to have a job to get up for in the morning. If I had kept going, the speedometer would first run out at 290 km/h – or exactly the same as the aforementioned Ferrari Testarossa, which was otherwise hot in 1989. Click 'NEXT PAGE' to read on Achieved god status It was no wonder that the B10 BiTurbo achieved almost god status in car circles at the beginning of the 90s. The car received massive media coverage, and virtually everyone was positive about the Autobahn missile from Alpina. Former Le Mans winner Paul Frère wrote these words of praise in an article in the American Road and Track car magazine: “For me, this is the car. It is the world's best 4-door sedan”.

Despite being a very expensive and exclusive car, the Alpina had good wind in its sails. With 507 examples produced, the B10 BiTurbo became the brand's most popular model until then. The only reason the model disappeared was because BMW stopped making the 3.5-liter inline-six and instead switched to a 3-liter V8 engine. As a testament to good cooperation, BMW delivered the last 50 examples of the 535i from the production line to Alpina, who could rebuild them. They can all be recognized by the fact that they are equipped with wide kidneys in the nose instead of the narrow ones like on the test car, which has production number 49. The tank holds 110 litres…! Even though it's been 30 years since this model was introduced, it can still bring goosebumps all over my body. I wish I had a piece of free Autobahn where I could sniff the top speed of 290 km/ten day – just for a quick note. There's nothing I'd rather do than crush the confidence of other cars in the outer lane on the Autobahn while emptying the 110 liter tank (yep, you got it right: 110 litres!?!). Alpina cars have always fascinated me, and now I understand why. They have something quite magical about them. It's as if Alpina has tweaked all the details that could just stand an extra run in the machine, and then added a little extra power on top. It makes good sense in my world, and I can only agree with Paul Frère: For me, this is also the car.

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