1996 BMW Alpina B3 Touring Found on Bring a Trailer

1996 bmw alpina touring 6 speed front
BaT Pick: 1996 BMW Alpina B3 TouringBring a Trailer
  • As a boutique manufacturer, Alpina has been making BMWs more special since 1962.

  • The Alpina B3 Touring is a hot little wagon, one that's had a manual transmission swap for extra fun.

  • The car up for auction appears to be in excellent condition, but this 3-series has been driven, so the new owner shouldn't hesitate to do the same.

Part of the challenge in owning a rare collector car can be the guilt associated with racking up too many miles. The Germans do not have a long word to describe this feeling, but if they did, it would be something like kilometerschuld. Thus, what joy to find something with a few more miles on the odometer, just waiting for a new owner to hit the throttle and go the distance.

1996 bmw alpina touring 6 speed side
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Pick of the day at auction site Bring a Trailer (which, like Car and Driver, is part of Hearst Autos) is a rare BMW-based wagon—one of only 89 built—but one you can happily drive guilt-free. It's a 1996 Alpina B3 3.6 Touring, one of those few special road cars handcrafted in Buchloe by a company that started out racing BMWs and providing tuning parts for them all the way back to the early 1960s.

1996 bmw alpina touring 6 speed rear
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This B3 3.6 Touring started off life as a mid-1990s E36 touring body-in-white, before being fitted with a 3.2-liter inline-six with 265 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque. The original gearbox was a five-speed automatic, and the car was delivered to Japan.


But wait, you say, why isn't the steering wheel on the right, then? As it happens, the Japanese market for European performance cars very strongly preferred left-hand-drive examples, as the layout was seen as more correct. Pretty much all Audi RS, BMW M, and Mercedes AMG models brought into Japan until the early 2000s were left-hand-drive.

1996 bmw alpina touring 6 speed engine
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Alpina had a single Japanese importer at the time, Nicole Racing Japan. As a footnote, this company was founded by Nico Roehreke, a German who moved to Tokyo in 1969. His group of auto dealers still operates there and has grown to include two Rolls-Royce showrooms in Tokyo. And, yes, Nicole Racing still brings in Alpinas.

1996 bmw alpina touring 6 speed interior
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After its life in Japan, this B3 went to the Netherlands under current ownership and was then brought stateside upon the owner's return to the U.S. Beyond the snazzy exterior graphics and iconic wheels, the interior is a knockout, with lovely cloth M-tech seats and tasteful wood trim. The options list is everything you need, with a sunroof, power windows, factory dual-zone A/C, and a BMW Business cassette deck.

1996 bmw alpina touring 6 speed certificate
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Best of all, sitting between those front seats is an Alpina manual gearshift knob. The current owner of this car swapped the factory automatic for a Getrag six-speed manual like that found in the E46 M3. While that work was being done, other tidying up included reportedly eliminating any oil seepage from the oil pan and rear main seal.

Buttoned up, it's essentially factory fresh, but the odometer reads the equivalent of 109,000 miles. Consider this reading an invitation to piling more on behind the wheel of this deft-handling and quick little wagon, a car made even more special with every mile you drive.

There's no reserve, so this Alpina wagon is going home to a new owner in just about a week or so. Leave the kilometerschuld behind. Instead, choose the joy of kilometerfreud.

The auction ends on May 16.

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