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Nicole Auto Conversion: 1986 BMW Alpina C2 2.5

In the world of old-school BMWs, the Alpina badge represents an exceedingly desirable specimen. Similar to Mercedes-Benz with AMG and Porsche’s relationship with RUF, the Alpina namesake was effectively as close as you could get to a factory-backed tuner car practically made in-house. This is a 1986 BMW 3-Series known as a C2 2.5 following its transformation to an Alpina-enhanced model, and it’s listed here on eBay with bids to $6,601 and the reserve unmet.

For years, I chased an E24 chassis BMW 6-Series Alpina that supposedly resided in a junkyard in north central Massachusetts. The yard owner knew all the hallmarks of a genuine Alpina car, from the multi-spoked wheels to the upholstery with the green stripe – and he was far from a BMW expert. That told me he did, indeed, have a real Alpina in his yard at one time, but he was never able to locate the car. I still hold out hope he will one day call me with the news that it’s been located. This 3-Series retains all those desirable features, along with the Alpina steering wheel and shift knob. The fact that this is a Japan-market car with a manual gearbox makes it exceedingly rare.

Now, it should be noted that this particular 3-Series comes from Japan, which had a slightly unique relationship with Alpina. The cars were effectively built to order by an approved vendor known as Nicole Automobiles. As such, it falls a few degrees short of being the most authentic Alpina you can buy, but unless you’re the most die-hard of an Alpina collector, the differences are nominal at best. It’s more an issue of whether you need to own an Alpina that carries with it documentation from the factory, as this car will not have a record of it being built back at headquarters.

In my opinion, it’s not a point worth losing sleep over, especially since all of the components are genuine Alpina options and the car was built when E30-era 3-Series were new models. It wasn’t put together after the fact, and unlike some Alpinas that only have cosmetic upgrades, this C2 likely also has some upgrades under the hood in the form of Alpina headers and a performance camshaft. You will need to do some digging to have those details confirmed, however, and while that will be one hell of a PPI, it will be money well spent to know you are buying as close to the real thing as possible.


  1. Nevada1/2rack Nevada1/2rack Member

    That the car doesn’t have the Alpina documentation might be a hindrance to some owners that would turn their nose up accordingly and that’s ok-it’ll give those that are DRIVERS a better opportunity to show it some love. And the fact it’s a Japanese import with the steering on the left side instead of the right is a plus-here in the Americas anyway.
    It’ll be interesting to see the out come in the final sale price.

    Like 2

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