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BMW E30 Three Series - Tuners


Alpina made several E30 variants the first of which was the C1 2.3 and was based on the 323i from late 1983. These were two or four door cars with Jetronic-LE and 170bhp. Power increases were due to a higher 10:1 compression ratio enabled by Mahle pistons and a hotter camshaft. Many UK Alpinas have the normal cast iron exhaust manifold rather than a tubular design but all should have an Alpina exhaust system. It wasn't uncommon to find a dog-leg gearbox but it isn't standard.


BMW E30 Alpina C2 2.7

Early Alpina cutaway.

Specification varies just as much on Alpinas as on normal E30s and cars with manual windows are not rare. UK cars were generally put together by Sytner in Nottingham. The C1 sold reasonably well bearing in mind it's high price tag and the fact it wasn't a huge upgrade from the regular 323i.

The C1 2.5 was sold from October 1986 to June 1988 in left hand drive only and in small numbers. It used a hot camshaft and a gas flowed head on a regular 325i with the usual suspension and body modifications. Power was increased from 170 to 190bhp.


BMW E30 Alpina C2 2.7

Alpina C2 2.7

The C2 2.5 started in early 1985 and used a 323i crankshaft on the 2.7 eta block. It used Jetronic-LE injection and pre-dated the Motronic 325i. Power was just over 180bhp. It is thought that later cars were based on the 325i so would have Motronic injection.

C2 2.7's are perhaps the best known E30 offering from Alpina and were first revealed in early 1986. Surprisingly there were not based on the eta as there were doubts about the cast iron crankshafts longevity at high power levels it had never been designed for. In fact they used an M20B25 block with a modified forged steel crank from the M21 324d. The cars used the usual Alpina camshaft and light Mahle pistons to deliver 210 glorious horsepower. They were Motronic with custom programming and exist in all body styles, even as an iX.

A catalytic converter version of the C2 2.7 was sold as the B3 2.7 in europe.


BMW E30 Alpina C2 2.7

1988 Alpina C2 2.7 with period side stripes.

The B6 2.8 was an early attempt by Alpina in late 1983 to boost power by increasing engine size above those then offered from the early M20s. A 2.8 litre M30 with non-standard Motronic injection and 210bhp found it's way into the E30. This was the first time Motronic was used on the E30 but sadly not for UK cars who made do with the normal E28 528i lump. Power was rated at 210 bhp which is excellent for a two valve per cylinder engine of the period. Alpina had used a similar M30 in their E21 conversions.

The non-UK B6 3.5 used the Motronic E28 B10 3.5 engine which made a whopping 261bhp (normally 218 on unmodified M30B35s). I had almost the same engine in my E34 B10 can only imagine what a fire breathing monster it would be in a lighter E30, truly fearsome. This engine loved to rev yet had massive low down torque.

A B6 3.5S took things a stage further by putting this amazing engine into an M3's body. Possibly the best E30 ever and more than enough to frighten any modern BMW M car thanks to it's lower weight. The only problem was the price which meant that only 62 precious examples were made and all were left hand drive. Prices today are just as high as you'd expect, a lottery winner's car.

It should also be mentioned that Alpina played a major role in the South African 333i and 325iS (see bottom of models page).


BMW E30 Alpina C1 interior

Automatic Alpina C1 interior.


BMW E30 Alpina interior

Earlier Alpina interior with 70s look fabric!

AC Schnitzer

The first E30 based Schnitzer was the S3 and predictably it was based on the 323i. The car produced 167bhp at 6000rpm using the early Jetronic-K 323i's engine. It was soon overshadowed by the Jetronic-L 323i which with 150bhp seemed better value than the expensive S3. The introduction the 325i saw an S3 variant based on its M20B25 which upped the game to 190bhp.

Schnitzer's 2.7 eta offering gave 210bhp in line with the Alpina and Hartge engines. The car was dubbed the S3 2.7 and had an optional catalytic converter.

Genuine AC Schnitzer conversions from new are ultra rare in the UK with possibly under a dozen original cars being sold. They made a lot of money from selling parts including spoilers, wheels, interior parts and the famous single windscreen wiper conversion to make your car look like it's just come from a touring car circuit.


BMW E30 Hartge H35

Hartge H35 12 valve.


Hartge were no stranger to the E30 and their first offering was the 323i based H23 in 1983. It produced 170bhp using the expected combination of camshaft, gas flowed head, tubular exhaust and a big bore exhaust system.

The H26 is a similar car to the H23 but with an extra 20bhp achieved by increasing the capacity to 2554cc by using an eta block and 323i crankshaft. Confusingly there was a later 325i based H26 producing the same 190bhp but using a regular M20B25 base.


BMW E30 Hartge

Hartge spolier and distinctive alloys

Hartge's H27 was their take on the 2.7 eta and used 10.2:1 compression to produce 210bhp - the same as the Alpina C2 2.7. However Hartge took it all one stage further buy producing the H27 SP with individual throttle bodies which upped power to 220bhp and I'm sure it made a fabulous noise as a result.

The M30 was used by Hartge in the H28 and the 250bhp H35 with much the same idea as Alpina. Going one step beyond Alpina was the H35-24 which put an M5's S38 with it's 286bhp into the E30 with predictably satisfying results.