Described as “the best 4-door in the world” by Road & Track, the Alpina B10 Bi-Turbo was also the fastest saloon ever when it was unveiled in 1989. Priced at nearly twice the value of a standard E34 M5, it became the best selling model in Alpina’s history up until that point. However, despite its relative commercial success, the B10 Bi-Turbo is still almost twice as rare as a Porsche 918, with only 507 examples ever made of this Bavarian rocket ship.
For those of you that don’t know, Alpina is to BMW as Brabus is to Mercedes. They provide a rarer, more exotic alternative to the manufacturer’s own in-house performance division, while still maintaining a close relationship with the company and a very high level of quality. Alpina started life as a typewriter manufacturer. However, in 1962 they decided to stop being incredibly lame and start building gnarly cars when the pleasingly named Burkard Bovensiepen developed a Weber dual carburettor for the BMW 1500. The top brass over at BMW liked it so much that they gave cars fitted with the Alpina system the full BMW factory warranty. The boffins at Alpina decided they quite enjoyed making BMWs go faster, so they set to work tuning carburettors and crankshafts to squeeze even more power from BMW’s engines. In 1970, they also discovered they were pretty good at racing, with their team winning the European Touring Car Championship, the German Hillclimb Championship, and even the Spa 24 Hours.
To create their monster, Alpina took a brand new E34 535i and immediately tore its engine apart. They then added stronger forged pistons and two fat Garrett water-cooled turbochargers, along with Bosch variable boost control that you could adjust from the driver’s seat like some kind of hybrid between a fighter jet pilot and an astronaut. With 360 manic ponies in the B10 stable, a beefier 5-speed manual transmission had to be added to handle all that GRUNT. The suspension was also fettled with: Alpina-spec springs were added all-around in addition to Bilstein shocks at the front and automatic load-levelling units in the rear. The car also featured bigger breaks than the equivalent M5. Along with a more luxurious interior, the car was given a badass Alpina body kit and some sweet decals to let all the children in the playground know that the big kids had arrived and it was their turn on the swings. Like any Alpina, the cherry on top here are those unquestionably gorgeous multi-spoke Alpina rims.
All those modifications translated into a Testarossa troubling 0-62mph time of 5.6 seconds and a top speed of 290 km/h (180mph). To put that into perspective with another 80s icon, the Lamborghini Countach had a 0-60 time of 4.9 seconds and a top speed of 295 km/h, however it could only do that with one human-sized bag of cocaine on board, whereas the B10 Bi-Turbo could do it with three, plus a couple extra in the boot. The six-year production run ended with the termination of the M30 motor by BMW in 1993, but in acknowledgement of what Alpina had achieved, the last 50 engines were shipped to Alpina to be used in the final 50 B10 Bi-Turbos.