Alpina C2 2.7: the best balanced E30?

After our earlier story of the B6 2.8, it is now time for the M20 powered C2 2.7. The E30 with the biggest displacement M20, coming in at a healthy 2693 cc. Exactly the same as the efficiency oriented 325e, but instead of looking for low-down grunt, trying to extract as much hp and torque as possible. The result is 210hp and 267Nm with a higher redline and a very linear power delivery. Alpina is using their normal magic to achieve this power hike; Mahle pistons, Alpina camshaft, custom cylinder head, Alpina equal length headers, full exhaust system, new motor management and some other goodies.

Not only the engine was overhauled, also the suspension and brakes were taken care of. And to give the car its own identity, the standard Alpina recipe was being followed; unique front spoiler, Alpina staggered wheels (7Jx16 and 8Jx16), rear spoiler and the well-known striping. These were available in different colors, but these gold ones on red look quite stunning has to be said.

Further money could be spent on the inside of the car. In this case the steering wheel, shifter knob, Recaro/Alpina sport seats, Alpina tacho and footrest. All of the items that make these cars so appealing and sought after. As the C2 is the “facelifted” type 1, it uses the front spoiler without the brake cooling intakes. The B6 on the other hand, has that spoiler which also fits the more “reclined” front airdam of the non-facelifted type 1. Respectively VFL and VVFL in german terminology.

Driving this car can probably be described as being the ultimate E30 feeling. Being the most powerful M20 engine, it probably suits the car best. No, it’s not as light as the M3 with its super sharp turn-in, nor as heavy as the B6 2.8/3.5, but just what you expect from the otherwise top-of-the-line E30, the 325i. Just with an astonishing 40hp more. But as all E30’s are fabulous cars, each has its own USP. And as we have many of them available to try, I would like to make a summary so far. But beware, this is just one man’s opinion! Please feel free to comment and chime in with your own personal take on the subject.

– 320i: engine smooth as a turbine, balanced, but relatively slow
– 325i: perfect balance and sufficiently powered
– C1 2.5: more powerful 325i with a better sound
– M3: super sharp steering and magnificent balance; not so fast though
– B6 2.8: fast and perfect combination of sportiness and comfort (cruiser/GT)
– C2 2.7: most powerful small six, sporty and great overall abilities
– B6 3.5(s): to be confirmed

Finally, let’s first clear up some confusion about the Alpina vehicle coding. Basically it breaks down like this:
– Before 1975, no letter/number combination was being used
– The letter A was used for all M10 engines in the E21
– The letter B for M30 engines (E21 and E30)
– The letter C for M20 engines (E21 and E30)

All of this “logic” ended however in 1987, when the C2 2.7 suddenly changed into B3 2.7; so far for the simplicity. From that moment on Alpina only used the letter B, until they considered oil-burners good enough to play with. At that time Alpina and BMW also embarked into a much closer relationship with BMW delivering semi-finished bodyshells to Buchloe instead of fully finished vehicles.

Still the numbers didn’t add up, as they haven’t done until 2004, when Alpina finally decided to follow the BMW 3/5/7 series numbering, starting with the E65 B7 (except for the Z4). But probably not even Einstein could have found a formula to identify some logic in the digit department…

This car is brought into this wonderful condition by Ronny Dreizehner
Pictures by Chris Brown

-Hendrik

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8 Responses to Alpina C2 2.7: the best balanced E30?

  1. juliuschoi says:

    Reblogged this on StyleSevenSeven and commented:
    Our favorite source for E30 love. Thanks for the great write up!

  2. Pingback: Tuning clásico: BMW Alpina C2 2.7 (1987), ¿el equilibrio perfecto en los BMW E30?

  3. Pete Jorgensen says:

    Just bought an e30 c2.7 and waiting on it to arrive from interstate!!

    • wheelmen says:

      Nice! It would be interesting to hear your thoughts when it arrives. And of course show some pictures of it in full glory 🙂
      Congrats with your purchase!
      Hendrik

  4. Vincent says:

    Goedemorgen! Weet U welke bilstein dempers voor deze auto gebruikt zijn? En welke uitlaat? (ik dacht in BMW Car gelezen te hebben dat het geen Alpina uitlaat is?). Ik ben zelf een C2 2.7 carbrio aan het opknappen en ben op zoek naar diverse onderdelen.
    Gr.
    Vincent

  5. Salva says:

    The e30 is a beautiful car. I dream a doctor Follamour put the Maserati V6/V8 bi-turbo or Alfa V6 Busso in an e30 and compared…

  6. Jack says:

    I used to build and tune BMWs for a living and have had around 1800 of them along the years. The one car I liked the most was my 1983 320i E30 I converted to a 223 bhp 2.7L machine.

    I built many different combinations, be it the 3.5L M30 and both the S38B36 and B38 versions, not forgetting the S50B30 and B32. Later even squeezed in a S62B50 one into a E30.

    The most fun to drive was the 2.7L. Sure it was not so powerful but it was very well balanced, had great torque and was so simple to build/convert.

    There were 4 different piston/compression versions of the M20B27 (eta) engine and the 10.2 was the most suitable with a 325i cylinder head. On mine I used a Schrick 288 camshaft, standard 325i Motronic injection.manifold, Hartge exhaust incl manifold and a custom mapped DME done on site on a dyno in Germany (Back in the late 80s this was not very common). I also used a 4.27 rear end (40% LSD) with the Getrag 260-5 (0.81 5th gear) for a top speed of only about 215kph but was great for acceleration.

    I had many original Alpina cars too but never a 2.7L E30. Only a B6 2.8 of which I was not so impressed.

    My everyday car after that 2.7L was a 1990 M3 with a S14B23 (S2) engine (215bhp). Never liked the 4 cyl engine. Sounded like a coffee grinder and after I broke the conrod bearings during a race track stint (Darn Mobil oil), I replaced it with a M30B35 with custom exhaust, headers and DME mapping. Sure it became a bit nose heavy but I missed the torque. Sold it with that engine and I later heard the new owner sourced out an original S14 and removed the M30.

    If you look for the ultimate “factory” produced 2.7L E30, Hartge made a handful of H27 SP models. They used the Schrick-made intake manifold with individual throttle valves, much like on Motorsport engines. It produced 220bhp.

    Freude am Fahren 🙂

    • wheelmen says:

      Hi Jack,

      Thanks very much for your story. I truly believe that the mentioned Hartge H27 SP must be one of the best E30’s around. Motorsport inspired M20 in an E30; yes, please!
      And it looks like you did almost all the cool conversions. I am sure each one with their pros and cons.

      And even though we also like original cars, we love good conversions which take the best bits from other models. Would you still have any pictures from some of these? That would be great.

      How was that S62 by the way? As you may have seen I am in the proces of getting this swap done as well. It will be nose heavy, probably not too great through corners, but still a hoot to drive. At least that is what I hope. Just enjoying the huge torque and hopefully combined with a nice sound.

      Can I send you some pm’s for some tips and tricks? Thanks in advance.

      Best regards,
      Hendrik

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