Rare Rides: An Incredibly Rare 1982 Alpina B7 S Turbo Sedan

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Rare Rides has featured exactly two Alpinas in the past, both coupes. From the Eighties came the B7S Turbo Coupe, a 6 Series-based sporty two-door. The Nineties were represented by the hefty B12, an 8 Series modification which was very expensive.

Today we step back to the Eighties and have a look at a B7S Turbo with twice as many doors.

The E12 5 Series entered production in 1972, as successor to the New Class. As the genesis of the 5 Series, it was also the start of what most consider modern BMW styling: quad headlamps, kidney grille, Hoffmeister kink, and generally boxy styling — everyone accounted for. Not big on large engines in those days, all 5 Series of this generation were endowed with inline-four engines of up to two liters of displacement, or inline-six power ranging from 2.0 to 3.5 liters.

By the time Alpina got around to tinkering with the E12, it was in the latter portion of its life: the first B7 Turbo sedan debuted in 1978. Based on a 528i, Alpina modified the engine and added twin turbos. That upped power output of the 2.8-liter I6 from 173 to a whopping 295 horses. What Alpina created in Malaisey 1978 was the fastest four-door sedan in the world. The B7 Turbo remained in production through the rest of the E12’s run, but Alpina wasn’t finished with its idea.

In 1981, a new version of the B7 arrived with an S added to its moniker. It featured the usual Alpina paint striping, spoilers, and festive upholstery. However, it wasn’t simply a minor modification or trim package on the standard B7. The B7S was based on the new and fastest 5 Series, the 535i. That meant a swap to the largest 3.5-liter inline-six. Alpina turned up the boost on the turbos and created a new ignition system.

Horsepower increased with the larger power plant, to 326. The engine’s torque also improved, jumping from 341 lb-ft on the original B7 to 369 lb-ft on the S. For comparison, the first M5 in 1984 produced 256 horsepower. The second generation M5 for 1988 nearly caught the B7S, with 311 horsepower, but lagged at 266 lb-ft of torque.

The incredibly powerful B7S was at least a decade ahead of its time as far as performance sedans were concerned. Never a big volume producer, Alpina built only 60 examples of its super sedan. All were confined to 1981 and 1982, which was the E12’s final model year. Unlike some rare classics, this particular Alpina has been enjoyed. It’s racked up nearly 137,000 miles in its life, and has been maintained and refreshed along the way. It was auctioned last year in Paris, and was expected to bring between $160,000 and $217,000.

[Images: RM Sotheby’s]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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5 of 7 comments
  • Ajla "Gee, wonder why car (as well as home) insurance rates are much higher in places like Florida..." Severe weather is on the list but even if a benevolent genie reverted the climate to circa 1724 I think FL would still have high cost. Our home insurance rates have increased 102% since 2021 and I don't think weather models account for that much of a change in that period. Florida's insurance assignment of benefit regulation meant that it had ~80% of the country's of the insurance lawsuits on ~12% of the nation's claims and litigated claims can be expensive to insurance companies. The state altered some regulations and is having some success on getting more companies back, even with the severe weather risks, through relatively bipartisan efforts. With car insurance just beyond the basic "Florida" stuff, the population increase of the past few years is overwhelming the roads. But, I think the biggest thing is we have very low mandated car insurance levels. Only $10K personal injury and $10K property damage. No injury liability needed. And 20% of the state has no insurance. So people that actually want insurance pay out the nose. Like I commented above my under/uninsured coverage alone is 2.5x my comprehensive & collision.
  • Juan Let's do an 1000 mile drive and see who gets there first.
  • Eliyahu CVT needed for MPG. Outback is indeed the legacy of, err, the Legacy.
  • Gayneu I can comment on these. My wife always thought the Minis were "cute" so I bought her a used 2005 (non-S, 5 speed) for one of her "special" birthdays. She loved it and I kinda did too. Somehow a hole developed in the transmission case and the fluid drained out, ruining the car (too expensive to fix). A local mechanic bought it for $800.We then bought a used 2015 S (6 speed) which we still have today (80k miles). Her sister just bought a used S as well (also manual). It has been a dependable car but BMW-priced maintenance and premium gas hurts for sure. I think the earlier generation (like in the article) were better looking with cleaner lines. The 2015 S rides too stiff for me (Chicago roads) but is a hoot on smooth ones. It does seem to shift weird - its hard to describe but it shifts differently from every other manual I have driven. No matter how hard I try, so won't let go of her Mini.
  • Crown Seems like they cut some cylinders too.A three cylinder...where are they planning on selling that??