Classifieds Challenge: Hartge Versus Alpina

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This week for Classifieds Challenge, we’ll look at two exquisite interpretations of modified BMW platforms—but which princely sum is the better value?

As usual, Classifieds Challenge finds two cars in the BMW Car Club of America Classifieds and pits them head-to-head. On the last episode, we looked at two rare V8-powered BMWs; this week, we’ll be looking at two decidedly more vintage examples, but at an even higher price point.

The first vehicle is based on a very hot chassis in the current market: the E30. While there were plenty of gorgeous 325iS, 318iS, and even some imported 325i Touring models to choose from, one example stood out not only for its rarity and heritage, but also its eye-watering (for a non-M) price.

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This particular E30 stands out because of its period modifications by legendary BMW tuner Hartge, a German outfit who took an “outlaw” approach to modifying vehicles across BMW’s product range. But where some vehicles got a few parts here and there, this 1985 “H35” got almost everything in the catalog, including a full assortment of cosmetic additions, a Harge big brake kit, limited-slip differential, dog-leg five-speed (!), and of course, Harge’s modified 3.5-liter M30 straight-six, originally from the 535i, 635CSi, and 735i. It’s a lot of engine for the little E30 coupe, and the seller claims it produces 260 horsepower—healthy, considering the M3 that would come out three years later barely reached 200.

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The Hartge H35 in question has travelled more than 124,000 miles and comes in Alpineweiss over beige, and shows some wear on the exterior, but has a very clean sport interior (with, of course, more Hartge additions). The full add can be viewed on the BMW CCA Classifieds here, but we’ll tell you the price now: a rather weighty (and oddly specific) $36,835.

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The second vehicle this week hails from a German shop as well, and although the factory is located near the Alps, about 400 kilometers from the Hartge facility, its builder still saw the appeal of the 3.5-liter M30. The car in question is of course an Alpina, and although they made their own version of a 3.5-liter E30 (that car was M3-based, however, and spectacular if you can find one), we’re looking at a different application: the E34-based Alpina B10.

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This 88,000-mile B10 isn’t the lust-inducing BiTurbo, but it’s still considered one the greatest-driving sedans in the automotive world—and this car happens to be the ninth in a production run of 572, and comes with a football game introduction’s worth of name-brand modifications, from Recaro seats to an Alpina-Momo wheel to Bridgestone tires and, naturally, the full suite of Alpina modifications and graphics.

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The photo above is via the car’s previous sale ad, shortly after import from Japan, when it was offered for $29,995, but the market on Radwood-era cars is hot right now, meaning that two years and 2,000 miles later, the price is now $37,500. It’s high, but it’s also in the same range as the Hartge E30, which has the same engine block.

Which would you choose? Let us know in the comments below, and if you have a suggestion for a future Classifieds Challenge car, let us know as well! —David Rose

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