A Rare Legend: Alpina B12 E31

Interesting | December 17th, 2008 by 10

As the one-stop BMW news shop that we pride ourselves to be, we’re here to bring not only the latest and greatest news, but also …

As the one-stop BMW news shop that we pride ourselves to be, we’re here to bring not only the latest and greatest news, but also some old school stuff. And today, is one of those days when once again, we have some old school bimmers to showcase.

Andrew is the in-house expert on “oldies”, but today is my turn to fill that spot. I’m not sure how many of you heard of an Alpina B12 based on the 8 Series E31, I know I haven’t, but apparently, there were  two versions produced. 

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The B12 5.0 Coupe was based on the 850i, powered by the 5.0-liter M70 engine producing 350 bhp (260 kW), and available only with a 4-speed automatic gearbox. The larger B12 5.7 Coupe was based on the 850CSi, with the 5.7-liter S70 engine producing 416 bhp (310 kW/422 PS) with a 6-speed manual gearbox. 

Our friend Tizi from the Czech Republic got his hands one of these beauties for a magazine photoshoot and decided to share them with us.

If you’ve driven one, would care to share your experience with us?

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10 responses to “A Rare Legend: Alpina B12 E31”

  1. Gragop says:

    this, with the E38 and E46 are my favorite Alpinas of all time. They made a hell of a 3.0 CSL too!

  2. Auday says:

    beautiful car! sleek, elegant, sporty.

    At that time (when BMW was sensitive) they refused to put M on the 850CSI, and killed the M8 project. Reasons in both cases was because they thought it’s against the M philosophy to have a heavy GT cruiser as an M car. Look where we are now, big fat two tons E60 and E63 are called M5/M6, and even worse a 5k LB SUV X6 will be labeled as an M car!

    back to the subject: Thanks for the pictures, love those Alpina rims on the E31.

  3. Matski says:

    The B12’s were stunning, in both E38 and E31 form… but I love Alpina’s anyway..

    I think they refused to M badge the 850CSi properly because it wasn’t hardcore enough, where as the M8 would have been (the 850CSi did not get the engine the 500bhp+ M8 had (as I understand it)), so I disagree that M canned the idea of the M8 because of weight issues, as I understand it, they felt that the market wouldn’t support any further variations of the 8 series, I’m sure this is why they stated that they they dropped the Convertible and the 3 litre models too.
    … just my own speculation though, I hope one day they reveal the truth, and put it on display in the BMW museum :)

  4. Gragop says:


    Matski’s right. Go read my write-up on the 8er, it’s on this site. The reason they didn’t build the M8 was they couldn’t justify a business case for it due to less than impressive sales and the already very expensive 850CSi which some shy’d away from. The M8 would have priced BMW out of the market completely, depsite rumors the M8 would have had 500 horsepower.

    As we find ourselves in a bad economy today – the M8 was a victim of a recession and given the axe.

  5. Auday says:

    “We’re just not interested in putting our name on cars like this anymore” that was their official response. But yeah it could have been all about the market.
    The 850CSI, was not less hardcore than any SUV (X6M or and X) would be, and the fact they were sensitive about the M brand at the time shows how high and classy they used to be and how low they are heading these days. It’s like Hollywood trying to cash on a big movie title by releasing part 2 that makes no sense, but will still make some good money becuase of the name.

  6. Gragop says:

    @Auday: that’s a pretty fair comparison I’d say. The X5M and X6M are like Lethal Weapon 3 and 4…or Die Hard 4…it makes you wanna say “just stop, stop and don’t do this shit anymore!”

  7. Matski says:


    Well if that’s the official response, then I can’t argue with the company! However, at about this time they were making an E34 M5 Touring. ~3800lbs (?) and about 335hp, the 850CSi was ~4170lbs and had 380bhp… neither of these numbers give particularly good power to weight ratios by modern standards – assume the M8 were to have 500 horses and weigh about the same – it would have been head and shoulders above the CSi. If you look at the sales figures the the 850CSi, then consider the development and production costs for the M8’s engine and body, it would have been a hugely expensive car to make, BMW want to sell 100,000 E92 M3’s, I doubt they’d have sold more than a few hundred M8’s back then. If they say its about brand image, I can accept that, but I’m sure the board would have been considering some of the same issues I’ve highlighted before cancelling the project.

    Like I say, it’s a shame either way… the M8 and the E31 convertible would have been stunning cars, and it’s a shame they never made production.

  8. Tizi says:

    Thanks for posting it. I have to say it was really great experience to drive this car. Yes it´s old but it´s so rare and so well made that I couldn´t believe it´s not a new car :) And it´s a proper head-turner, really everyone was looking at this car. And sure, it goes like a bullet and in the same time it´s comfortable. Not a real sport car though…

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