In November of last year, we introduced Collector Chassis, a new online platform for enthusiasts, hobbyists, and collectors to showcase, spectate, buy, and sell vintage, classic and special-interest vehicles. Through our partnership with Collector Chassis, BMW CCA members may list vehicles for free, and benefit from reduced selling fees, in addition to managing their own virtual garages and exploring the virtual garages of others. This week our Collector Chassis Showcase features an Alpina B6 2.8 (E21), a car currently for sale on the Collector Chassis website.
Check out the Collector Chassis FAQ for more information about their site and auction terms and conditions. When signing in to the Collector Chassis website, choose “Sign in as BMW CCA user” and use your BMW CCA credentials. And watch for more CC Showcase features in coming issues.—Mike Bevels
- Location: Pennsylvania, 19501
- Miles: 141,000
- Year: 1981
- Make: BMW
- Model: 323i
- Chassis: 7246718
- Engine: 2.8 Liter
- Exterior Color: Sapphire Blue
- Interior Color: Alpina Fabric
- Horsepower: 244
- Transmission: Manual
Hugh’s first BMW was a 2002, which he bought for only $800. He upgraded the exhaust header, installed a new carburetor, and thus began his journey of collecting and modifying cars. Hugh remembers being influenced by modified factory cars of the 1970s such as the Scarab, a Datsun 200-series Z with a Chevrolet V8-engine under the hood. The thought of doing something similar with a BMW was something he always dreamed of doing.
As fate would have it, Hugh found a 1981 Alpina B6 2.8 (E21) for sale in Roundel magazine. As Hugh desired a more powerful 3 Series, this Alpina was exactly what he was looking for, straight from Alpina’s factory. The Alpina B6 2.8 is based on a BMW 323i (E21). The 323i had a 2.3 liter six cylinder engine known as a “small six.” Aplina replaced this with the M30 engine, known as the “big six” from the same-generation 528i. Alpina used the same bearings and crank in the factory block, but heavily modified the heads, and used different valves to extract maximum performance.
At the time of finding the ad in Roundel, Hugh was engaged to be married and thought, “This would be the last toy I’ll ever buy before I’m married and have a family.” Now approaching his 30th wedding anniversary, Hugh is reminded of just how long this Alpina has been a part of their lives.
The Alpina was not Hugh’s daily driver and lived a blessed existence in nice garages. In fact, his last two garages were both air conditioned and heated. For a car that’s over 40 years old, Hugh says, “It’s about as perfect as it could be. It did not have to be restored to get rid of rust. It just didn’t have any [rust] because it came from California, and I never drove in the winter or exposed it to salt”. When Hugh took delivery of this Alpina, it had a different front valance installed–not the Alpina valance—and black mirrors as opposed to body color mirrors, which is how it would’ve been built by Alpina. Hugh removed the factory rear spoiler due to it deteriorating over time.
Hugh says, “[This car] has rear-wheel cutouts, [which are plastic pieces used to] deflect mud and stones. They’re very subtle, and I believe they are Alpina [parts]. In addition, in the trunk there is an extended-range [fuel] tank which was an Alpina option.”
The interior has undergone a few changes in Hugh’s ownership. There’s a replacement Alpine head unit, upgraded Altec speakers, Dynamat in the doors, and a replacement headliner. The steering wheel was also modified. Hugh said “There’s a guy in Latvia who recovered it in different, perforated leather with stitching in Alpina colors”. The modified gauge cluster was already in place when Hugh purchased the B6.
Hugh has also refreshed and upgraded the engine during his ownership. He says, “At about 110,000 miles, the engine was well used, so I decided to have it bored and stroked it to 3.2-liters by Henry Lawrence of Power Plant, a BMW specialty shop devoted to building high-performance BMW engines in Greensboro, North Carolina. This Alpina now produces just shy of 250 horsepower with roughly equal torque. The valve train, cam, and heads are all original Alpina. The exhaust system was fabricated by hand.”
Power is nothing without control, so the suspension and brakes have also been refreshed. Hugh inspected and replaced all the suspension bushings, just as it would have come from Alpina. He says, “The suspension height is adjustable, particularly in the rear, which gives it a really nice stance along with factory Alpina wheels. We also replaced the heavier disc brakes with Wilwood brakes which are dramatically lighter and result in better stopping power.”
How does it drive at 40-plus-years old? Hugh says, “because of Alpina’s updates to the suspension and the sway bars, and the seemingly unlimited pool of power and torque, it’s a very solid performance car. I’ve driven it on some of the winding back roads of Pennsylvania and have created some beautiful memories with it. It’s a fast and enjoyable car, and very satisfying to drive.”
What’s next? Hugh reflects, “It’s been a part of my life, my entire married life. We’ve done road trips in it, went to friends’ weddings, and all kinds of fun stuff. So, I’m emotionally preparing myself for releasing it. I do have some other cars, so it’s not as if I’m going to have nothing to do with my free time. But, you know, it’s a very unique and cool car.” Hugh’s 1981 Alpina B6 2.8 is currently for sale on CollectorChassis.com. —Will Sellenraad
[Photos courtesy of Collector Chassis.]