Alpina Burkard Bovensiepen GmbH has been working closely with BMW since the early 1970’s producing some of their most memorable racecars. By the late 70s, Alpina became their own manufacturer and no longer sold their cars as BMW Alpinas, but rather just Alpina. They would order raw chassis and engines and build their own vehicles, many of which were then sold through the BMW dealership network. Furthermore, they would also supply their parts to resellers as well as build different parts for their customers who didn’t necessarily want a complete build. The C1 2.3 (E21) cars were primarily built by Alpina dealers with kits and very few were actually built by Alpina. Many just received appearance packages. This Euro example received the complete package including engine upgrade, suspension, as well as the aesthetics.
This 323i was built on November 5th, 1981 and sold new to Hans-Peter Berkmann of Bavaria. He recently had purchased a 1981 C1 2.3 Alpina that was totaled 6-months later. So, he purchased this 323 on May 6th, 1982 from Autohaus Biller, the BMW dealer in Mittenwald, Germany (about an hour south of Munich). Shortly after purchase, he took the car back to Alpina in Buchloe and had them swap over all the parts from his damaged C1. This included the following factory Alpina parts:
- 323i-based 6-cylinder engine from Alpina
- Limited-slip finned-cover differential
- Front struts
- Rear shocks
- Front and rear springs
- Front and rear sway bars
- 7Jx15″ wheels & wheel caps
- Rear rubber strakes (mud guards)
- Front fiberglass spoiler
- Rear rubber spoiler
- Dash plaque (no. 3-2108)
- 4 floor mats
- Dead pedal (foot rest)
- Front grille emblem
- L&R trunk emblems
Alpina also showed in their registry that the engine parts were installed in this new engine, which matches the current chassis and the engine is listed as a factory Alpina. Alpina further provided details on the engine, which is a 10.0:1 compression and produces 170hp.
Further factory Alpina parts that are on the car but we can’t verify Jonathan installed them at Alpina or at a later date include:
- Extra gauge cluster on dash
- Close-ratio 5-speed transmission
- Early mechanical fuel injection system
- Manual (non-power) steering gearbox
Further unique features of these European built E21 include:
- Front and rear bumpers smaller bumpers
- Rear skirt-mounted license plate bracket
- Manual windows
- Power mirrors
- Manual sunroof
Within the next couple of years, Jonathan Lewis of Cupertino, California was in the military and stationed in Germany. He ended up purchasing this 323i and importing it back to the U.S. on October 24th, 1984, with 25,415 miles. He imported his 323i through proper channels and underwent the strict federalization process. We have all the US Department of Transportation import documentation showing it legally imported and passing the EPA testing.
Jonathan kept the car for 4-years more before selling it in 1988 with around 38k miles. The next significant owner was Paul Enagonio of Los Angeles, California. He just missed buying this Alpina from Jonathan. However, he hounding the new owner for 6-months until that owner sold it to Paul on July 6th, 1989 with 39,137 miles. Although he ultimately titled it in first Kansas and then Louisiana over the next 23-years of his ownership, it’s not clear if the car ever left Southern California. I believe it was registered out of state due to the increasingly difficulty with passing our strict smog test. During Paul’s ownership, he serviced it regularly with respected BMW mechanics. The most significant repair he performed was when he had the cylinder head rebuilt/top end engine rebuild in 2001 ($2,500), which included a new camshaft as well.
In June of 2008, Paul sold the car to Walter McNally of Rutland, Vermont with 115,203 miles. Walter kept the car 5-years before selling it on June 8th, 2013 with 118,350 miles to Dieter Stenger of Auburn, California. Dieter had moved from Germany to the California about 10 years prior. He set out to learn more about the car’s history as well as start a light refurbishment. He ended up connecting with the original owner from Germany who explained that he had purchased a C1 from Alpina in 1981 but ended up totaling it in a traffic accident about 6 months later. So, he purchased another 323 and had all the Alpina parts from the first one swapped over to the new 323. It appears that Alpina was involved in this swap as they have verified that the C1 engine is an Alpina engine and in their records. Apparently, they took all the parts from the other C1 engine and installed it on this engine as its stamped number also matches the VIN. The first owner had a German artist do some graphic paint work on the lower part of the car near the rockers and onto the rear fenders. Dieter decided to make it look more correct.
Dieter had part of the car repainted by a top local paint specialist and fresh Alpina decals installed. He also replaced some of the rubber trim and re-chromed the original bumpers. He had the correct Recaro front seats reupholstered with Alpina fabric, rear seats reupholstered, new sun visors, fresh door panels, and he sourced a correct Alpina steering wheel with matching shift knob. He also had some engine tuning and routine service performed. He had the original Alpina wheels refurbished as well as steering rack boots and tie rod ends. He went through quite a bit of effort to reinstall all the correct smog equipment including new Magnaflow catalytic converter, Lambda computer, EGR valve, hoses, and O2 sensor. He repaired the exhaust system as well. Lastly, a Blaupunkt Nashville radio was installed. Once completed, he took it to the 2013 BMWCCA Oktoberfest in Monterey where it was part of a special BMW Alpina display. He got to meet the founders of Alpina and they signed his dash plaque.
He sold the car to a long time BMW collector and friend of ours up in Sacramento, California in October of 2015 with 126k miles. This owner only kept the car for a couple of years and barely drove it when the current Los Angeles owner found the car while searching for an E21 Alpina to buy. The car wasn’t for sale, but he convinced the owner to sell it to him on January 7th, 2017 with 126,665 miles.
For the past 4-years/4k-miles, this owner has had a local European sports car specialist go through the car to make sure it was ready to be enjoyed specifically on vintage tours like the Targa California and weekend driving in the local mountains. Highlights of services and upgrades performed include:
- New Bilstein Sport front and rear shocks
- Replace drive belts
- Oil pan gasket
- Check battery and charging system
- Refinish side mirrors to correct Alpina finish
- Install Dunlop tires
- Refinish trunk area
- Compression test (within spec)
- Regular oil services and fluid flushes
- Replace transmission mount
- Tune up
This E21 is in excellent survivor condition. It has never been restored but lightly refurbished throughout the years. It’s clear that this example was not driven in bad weather and always garaged. The chassis is in excellent shape with no signs of any prior damage or corrosion. The paint is in very good shape with some panels still being original paint (roof and trunk). There are a few minor nicks here and there, but nothing glaring and far less than you would expect for the age/miles. The glass is very good shape with no major chips or scratches. The windshield has been replaced but the rest of the glass appears to be original and wearing the proper factory stampings. The Alpina graphics were installed about 7-years ago and are in excellent shape. The original factory Alpina 15” wheels were restored about 7-years ago as well. They are in good shape with no significant curb rash. They are wearing Dunlop tires installed in 2017, which was about 4k miles ago. They have at least half-life remaining, if not more. The rear brakes are at about half-life and the front brakes appear to be at around 75% life remaining. All the exterior lights work including the correct Hella headlamps.
The interior is even nicer and fitted with correct period Alpina parts. The original Recaro seats were recently restored and in great shape with no tears or rips. The back seats were also restored at the same time. The headliner appears to be original and in excellent shape with no rips or tears. The interior lights also work. The carpet is original with no major stains or wear marks. The car has a set of 4 Alpina floor mats that are in great shape and appear to be original. The door panel cards have been replaced and are in good shape with no tears or warping. The dash is original and has a small crack by the windshield that is covered with black tape. The rest of the dash looks great including the Alpina gauge cluster. All the gauges appear to work properly, including the digital clock. The turn signals don’t cancel. The A/C system blows, but not cold and hasn’t been used in the past 5+ years. The Blaupunkt radio powers up but no sound comes out. The manual sunroof and windows all work great.
This C1 Alpina drives fantastically. Considering how restricted cars were in the 80s, the 170hp combined with this lightweight chassis provides considerable fun. It was much faster than I expected. It starts easily on the first try and holds a smooth idle with no hesitation or smoking. The power is immediate and it climbs through the rev range with ease. The dogleg 5-speed transmission shifts smoothly with no grinding or slipping. The clutch feels great and engages properly. The handling is crisp and precise with excellent turn in. The car tracks straight and has excellent road manners including uneven surfaces. The exhaust has a tiny buzzing rattle. We had a muffler expert look at it and he said it’s the tips on the muffler. The brakes have a nice initial bite with no fading or pulling. This BMW would be a blast on your local backroads and would be welcome at an upcoming Radwood event, especially since they are starting up new events for this year.
This BMW is currently registered in California until December of 2021. Although it has passed smog in the past, the catalytic converter is not installed and would need to be installed before testing. In some counties, it still may not pass our strict smog test.
This 323 Alpina comes with 3 keys, original BMW service booklet, owner’s manuals with vinyl cover, Federalization documentation, EPA paperwork, many service receipts from over the years, catalytic converter (not installed), Alpina wheel key, extra hazard light switch, extra sunroof crank, extra key lock, original Alpina floor mats (4) trunk mounted tool kit, full size spare, and jack.
**Note: VIN and other numbers withheld to protect against fraud. All numbers including VIN, Engine, and color will be provided to serious buyers.
In the 198’s, European cars that came to the U.S. were neutered.
We’ve been getting “world” cars (the same engine in both U.S. and the rest of the world) for the past 3 decades and forgot how bad we had it in the 1980s. Germany would’ve preferred to not modify their cars for our market; however, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Environmental Protection Act (EPA) had some insane import rules.
In the early ’80s, BMW E21 (first 3-series) was a perfect example of this disparity. What we got here was truly pathetic.
The California 320i was an anemic 101hp 4-cylinder wheezing excuse for a sports sedan that took nearly a minute to reach 100mph…yawn.
During this time, I descended on our local bookstore for the latest European car magazines and their featured sports cars. I salivated over their tight bumpers and big hp figures like a child locked out of an ice cream parlor with their face pressed up against the glass.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the pond, their BMW E21 got a 6-cylinder engine making 30% more power. For the few that were in the know and had some coins burning a hole in their pocket, they could skip across town and let the engineers at Alpina inject an extra 30hp beyond that.
That’s a 50% increase in power over what we got here in States. Plus, Alpina gave these cars better suspension and a dogleg close-ratio gearbox with a limited-slip differential. All this in a 2,400lb neatly packed happy-meal-looking chassis. Yes, please!
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Paul at 714-335-4911 or firstname.lastname@example.org
This vehicle is sold “as-is” with no warranty, written or implied. In some cases, the vehicle does have the remaining factory warranty still in place and will be described above if that is the case. All taxes and fees are the responsibility of the buyer and are not included in the listed price. All vehicle sales will require a $170 administration fee. The vehicle listed is described to the best of our ability. The information is based on our own research and statements made to us by the previous owner(s). To the best of our knowledge, the above information is accurate. We are not responsible for errors in our description of options or any other details. The above-mentioned vehicle is used and can be expected to show some wear and tear. It is not a brand-new vehicle. We do welcome all local pre-purchase inspections on vehicles in order to verify conditions. For payment, we accept bank transfers, cashier’s checks, or cash. Checks take up to 10-business days to clear. Vehicle and title will be held until all funds are cleared and verified. Bank transfers usually only take 24 hours.