If you’re seeking the best BMW has to offer, you’ll have to look beyond the main brand’s product lineup and consider the offerings from BMW M and Alpina. Long known for elevating BMW models to new heights in terms of speed and capability, these days, both entities effectively transform the cars that serve as the basis for their models, with M erring on the side of exceptional on-track performance, and Alpina prioritizing luxury, while never disappointing in terms of power and speed. In terms of the one you probably want to drive every day, it’s hard to argue with the balance of opulence and performance afforded by an Alpina.
A new documentary on YouTube spends 50 minutes taking a look at the Buchloe-based tuner-turned-manufacturer, and follows production of the current Alpina B7 and development of the XB7, the latter of which is manufactured at BMW’s production plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The documentary also examines how Alpina develops parts and engines, manages inventory, and manufactures its models, which are completed separately from BMW’s own lines, with much of the final assembly occurring by hand.
Alpina has an expansive history of building some of the most compelling cars to originate from Bavaria, but the background and history of the company itself is also quite interesting, with roots that include originally manufacturing office equipment, like typewriters, before Burkard Bovensiepen began channeling his automotive passion in the 1960s. Today, Alpina is the story of two generations of the Bovensiepen family, but the influence of the company and its success story transcend various aspects of the world of BMW. These include motorsport, which is why the documentary features previous footage of Nikki Lauda and a more recent interview with Hans-Joachim Stuck.
Alpina BMWs have always been special vehicles, and although a lot has changed in recent generations, a fascinating benefit of the company remaining relatively small is that so much of the work required to customize them is still done exclusively hand, including the Lavalina leather interior upholstery that sets current models apart.—Alex Tock
[Photo courtesy BMW AG. Video courtesy Welt Documentary.]