Photography by Jackson Keam & Ollie Strong @hardparkedproductions
Mike Hack's fondness for the E30 platform all started when he bought a 318is coupe. He had intentions of keeping it clean and stock since his daily/track Honda Civic was deemed "un-roadworthy" by the local police due to illegal modifications. Like most of us, the mod bug bit him shortly after the purchase was made and the coupe quickly became another less than ideal daily driver. After owning the 318is for a few years, Mike was truly engulfed in the local E30 scene. He had come into the E30 scene completely ignorant of the chassis's many variations. He had no idea which modification options were out there, which companies to trust or which local shops to go to. But over the 2 years of owning the coupe, he learned a lot. He was also unaware of the wagon variant, until after buying the coupe and this intrigued him tremendously. Since Australia never received the wagon, it made the thought of owning one there even more enticing. He knew of a handful of private imports that were getting around Australia, so he knew it was possible. And so the search began.
Initially the search didn't get far, he couldn't find any for sale through the usual sources and money was a bit tight anyway. At the time he realistically had no chance of actually getting his hands on one, but he continued the search anyway. After a few months he stopped looking and life went on, then one day he was just casually wasting time searching for random cars on a car selling website/app. It was out of curiosity more than having any intent to purchase and boom a 325i E30 Touring popped up for sale in Sydney (10 hour drive interstate from him). It was not cheap, but it was in fantastic condition with low miles and had a manual transmission. It also had all the electric options, sunroof, windows, etc. and complete with a genuine M-Tech 2 bodykit. The icing on the cake was that it was in Alpine white, Mike's favorite color. A call was made and not long after he was on a plane to Sydney, driving the newly purchased touring as its first Australian owner, back to Melbourne.
Not all was as rosy as it would seem though, when it came time to get the required engineer's certificate in order to register the car for Australian roads, some poor handiwork was found. In order to legalize the car for Australian roads, side intrusion bars needed to be welded into the doors. When Mike bought the car he was told by the seller that all of the work had been done and was ready to go. Turns out the (unnamed) Sydney based shop had sikaflexed the bars in (rather than welding) and the job had to be done again from scratch. This took a big chunk of time and money from his life. Once registered and driving, modifications began almost immediately. The first set of wheels had already been ordered before the car was on the road and basic bolt-on engine mods were underway. Coilovers were swapped out from his old coupe and installed into the touring. The car stayed reasonably mild for a year (lowered, wheels, bolt on engine mods) or so while he planned on upcoming changes.
The Touring has had 4 different sets of wheels since he's owned it, starting with a set of 16" Schmidt TH lines, a brief stint on 16" Alpina wheels, a few years on a set of Compomotive TH1780, 6 months on a set of 3 piece Work Emitz and then back to the Compomotives which it is currently on. He actually repurchased the Compo’s from the guy he had originally sold them to.
Being a Honda fan/owner for the prior 10 years, Mike was very much into the whole wire-tucked engine bay look and wanted to attempt something similar on the E30. He looked around online and apparently wire-tucking E30's wasn't too common, which would help set the car apart just that little bit more. What he assumed would take 3 weeks or so, turned into a 3 month, 400+ solder nightmare job. Although in saying that, once completed, the car fired up first try with zero issues and has been without issues for the last few years.
A little more power was then desired as well as something special under the hood. Rather than taking the much more common and arguably much better money/power ratio option of an engine swap or going with a turbo upgrade, Mike decided to take the road less traveled by going with an ITB setup. Call it a hangover from his old ITB B20VTEC powered Civic race car. He hungered once again for that undeniable ITB scream. He knew that the cost/power ratio was not ideal, but since the car would be 95% street/show car, real power numbers were not a big concern. Luckily for him, there was an upcoming Australian company that was developing an ITB kit for the BMW M20 engine and he managed to get a hold of a kit before they officially hit the market. The only problem with getting it in so early is that the kit wasn’t 100% and some custom fabrication was needed to make them work. The car was dropped off to a shop for the ITB install/head rebuild/ECU install, etc. and this is when things started to take a very slow turn. Without having a real deadline or agreed finishing date, the car ended up sitting in the shop for well over a year (16 months to be exact). Multiple calls and surprise visits were necessary to put some pressure on to get the job finished. But good things come to those that wait and the result was a whole lot of fun and plenty of noise.
Unfortunately the car didn’t last long after the original install/tune and drivability went down fast, to the point of the car being completely undrivable. It stopped idling, it was running extremely rich and pumping out excessive smoke on every drive. In the end he believes it was a combination of poor ECU choice, lack of complimentary sensors/modifications and a poor tune. Regardless of what was at fault the car needed some serious attention in order to get it back on the road and running the right way. So he made the call to MSC Performance, a trusted and known tuner that he had used a lot during his Honda racing days. He didn’t have a lot of experience in BMW’s specifically, but he was a master on the dyno and was happy to take on the job. Again it wasn’t cheap as they decided to remove the original Microtech ECU and ‘upgrade’ to a ‘top of the line’ Haltech Elite 2500 unit. They also added a Wideband controller and cam sensor in order to get the whole setup working right. A month or so passed and he received the car back in perfect working form. Drivability was as good as a standard car, no idling issues anymore, no excessive smoke. The car was a dream to drive and sounded amazing. Still no powerhouse, but fast enough for plenty of fun. After driving the car in this form for about 6 months, he was keen for more. Like most car modifiers, the car is never finished and no matter what you do, there's always something else that needs to be done. He likes putting in the wrench time in the garage just as much as he likes driving the finished product.
Mike was always intrigued about bags, it was one of those mods he would see as a kid and get excited about, and as an adult that excitement never changed. He never thought he would ever actually go down that path though. But then a few things changed and his financial position changed (after no longer needing a car trailer). This combined with the constant risk of driving an "illegally" lowered car around the streets of Melbourne triggered him to give in and go down the bag route. Air bags allowed him to drive the car at a reasonable height to avoid police attention on the roads and then slam it to the ground for the next car event. (Police in Australia are extremely intolerant of modified cars driving on the road, the penalties are harsh and expensive.) So he ordered all the parts needed and began to research how to go about installing the whole thing. He's DIY’d the majority of things with cars in the last ten years, but over that time he had had zero experience working with anything to do with air ride. After a week or so in the garage the install was complete and the car was back on the road driving well once again.
Not long after installing the bags, Mike and his partner purchased their first home due to having their first baby on the way and as you can imagine modifying cars has slowed to almost a complete halt. So at this stage and for the foreseeable future, the Touring will remain in its current form with the short term goal of just maintaining it and keeping it on the road. He has future plans to pull the motor and get the engine bay smoothed and re-painted. But that is something that will happen in the very far future, in the meantime, he is happy to just drive it as it is and attend as many events and cruises as he can.
- Unique combination of high-performance drivetrain with 600 bHP and xDrive all-wheel drive system provide a 0-60 mph acceleration time of just 3.6 seconds.
- Most advanced suspension and chassis technology with ALPINA calibration including for the first time Integral Active Steering for ultimate dynamics and comfort.
- Carbon Core body in conjunction with ALPINA specific suspension geometry and MICHELIN® Pilot Super Sport tires lead to high agility, direct handling and precise steering.
- Special ALPINA Sport+ Mode adjusts all vehicle, drivetrain and suspension settings to maximum dynamic performance lowering ride height by 0.8 inches at the touch of a button.
- The ALPINA design and aerodynamic elements underscore the elegant and athletic appearance of the new BMW ALPINA B7 xDrive.
New generation 4.4 liter V8 engine with twin-turbo charging.
The new 4.4 liter 8-cylinder engine with twin-turbo charging, gasoline direct injection and Valvetronic delivers an impressive output of 600 bHP between 5750 rpm and 6250 rpm, while the maximum torque of 590 lb-ft is available from 3000 rpm. The resulting performance figures are remarkable – the all-new BMW ALPINA B7 xDrive accelerates in just 3.6 seconds from 0 to 60 mph, 0.8 seconds faster than its predecessor while reaching a top speed of up to 193 mph (preliminary figure).The power output of this smooth high-tech engine unfolds with impressive emphasis across the entire rpm range. Excellent throttle response and high torque ensure that even at low engine speeds driver inputs are immediately transformed into forward acceleration.
In addition, to ALPINA’s engineering expertise, a number of significant technical details are responsible for this engine’s power output and performance characteristics – particularly the air intake system, the intercooler and turbocharger configuration and the high-performance cooling system. The twin-turbo charging system comprises two specially developed turbochargers positioned in the V of the 8-cylinder engine. These feature twin-scroll turbochargers with enlarged inlet and outlet diameters. This configuration ensures optimal use of exhaust gas energy even at low engine speeds. The result is a fast power build-up and more torque at low engine speeds for overall exceptional engine response. At 2000 rpm the ALPINA’s V8 twin-turbo engine already produces 494 lb-ft of torque ensuring optimal performance .
The overall aim during the development of the components of the ALPINA air intake system - from the air intake ducts to air filter housings and clean air intake manifold - was to achieve maximum airflow. All components of the high-performance cooling system are designed to remove bottlenecks and maximize effectiveness – special large-volume coolers are interconnected by large diameter hosing for maximum throughput. An indirect intercooler system (air to water) facilitates the implementation of short charge-air intake paths. Combined with additional external water coolers and a transmission oil cooler, the system ensures the thermodynamic stability of the V8 twin-turbo engine at all times, even under the highest loads and ambient air temperatures.
Inside the engine special Mahle pistons and NGK spark plugs are designed to deal with the temperatures and loads associated with 20 psi of boost pressure and a compression ratio of 10.0:1.
The stainless steel ALPINA sports exhaust system is responsible for a reduction in back pressure and weight. Active exhaust valves allow the driver to influence the sound experience by switching the Driving Dynamic Control switch between Comfort and Sport Mode. In typical ALPINA fashion: the two twin tailpipes of the exhaust system are integrated elegantly and aesthetically into the rear apron.
Most advanced suspension and chassis technology with characteristic ALPINA dynamics.
The all-new BMW ALPINA B7 xDrive features cutting-edge suspension technology, offering its driver an exceptional range of driving experiences. The focus to retain the exceptional long-distance cruising comfort of the predecessor while at the same time significantly sharpening the agility, handling and lateral dynamics commensurate to the power output of the all-new BMW ALPINA B7 xDrive.
The 2-axle air suspension system combined with Dynamic Damper Control and Active Comfort Drive with Road Preview guarantees the very highest level of driving comfort at all times while the Active Roll Stabilization minimizes body roll during cornering. The rear wheel steering of the Integral Active Steering system gives the all-new BMW ALPINA B7 xDrive a level of dynamic performance and light-footed handling, typically associated with sports cars. The Driving Dynamics Control switch serves as the central control over which to select the various parameters of all the systems that influence the driving dynamics of the all-new BMW ALPINA B7 xDrive. It also features an Individual Mode, which can be used to combine specific settings independently and in accordance to the driver’s preference.
With the Driving Dynamics Control used to select the appropriate mode, the 2-axle air suspension system is primarily responsible for the exceptional level of ride comfort. It also enables ride height to be changed up or down which in combination with the other suspension systems facilitates the choice of a decidedly comfort or sport orientated chassis set-up. Overall, a maximum ride height adjustment range of 1.6 inches is available. At speeds above 140 mph the ride height of the BMW ALPINA B7 xDrive is lowered by 0.8 inches. This operating state, which can be activated manually to be effective regardless of the speed by selecting the special ALPINA Sport+ Mode, results in a lower center of gravity thereby increasing agility and high-speed stability. The lower ride height results in increased front wheel camber for even more direct turn-in when cornering. When needed, the ride height can also be raised by 0.8 inches up to a speed of 20 mph in order to increase ground clearance.
The settings of the Electronic Damper Control, which influences both rebound and compression, are also selected using the Driving Dynamics Control. A broad range of ALPINA damper set-ups are available ranging from Comfort+ Mode for effortless and relaxed cruising to ALPINA Sport+ Mode for maximum dynamic performance.
For the first time, the all-new BMW ALPINA B7 xDrive features Integral Active Steering, which in conjunction with the high-performance drivetrain and the all-wheel drive system, offers a dynamic driving experience par excellence. The Integral Active Steering combines a variable ratio electric steering system at the front axle with active steering on the rear axle whereby the wheels can turn a maximum of 3 degrees. Specially attuned to the ALPINA suspension and MICHELIN® performance tires, the rear axle steers opposed to the front axle at low speeds for increased agility and dynamic handling, while steering with the front axle at higher speeds for maximum high-speed directional stability.
The all-new BMW ALPINA B7 xDrive is fitted with MICHELIN® Pilot Super Sport tires measuring 255/40 ZR20 at the front and 295/35 ZR20 at the rear, mounted on 8.5 x 20 and 10 x 20 ALPINA CLASSIC wheels. New lightweight 21 inch forged wheels take the traditional 20-spoke ALPINA CLASSIC design into a new minimalistic and technical direction. Forging results in high-density and high-strength aluminum alloy which enables a weight-optimized construction that saves 5.5 lb of unsprung mass per wheel. The MICHELIN® Pilot Super Sport tires are specifically designed to meet the demands of high-performance sports cars. They contribute directly to the precise steering feel and handling of the new BMW ALPINA B7 xDrive while foregoing run-flat technology in the interests of improved ride comfort.
Comprising blue painted 4-piston fixed calipers and 15.5 in x 1.41 in discs on the front axle and floating calipers with 14.5 x 0.94 in discs on the rear axle, the high-performance brake system provides outstanding stopping power and deceleration.
BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system with ALPINA calibration
The all-wheel drive system builds upon the technical potential of BMW’s xDrive system and its intelligent and dynamic distribution of drive power which continuously and fully variable distributes torque between the front and rear axle within milliseconds for maximum traction and control. The programming of the torque distribution control, which is interconnected with the Dynamic Stability Control and the engine management system, is performance-oriented and it increases driving agility and dynamics markedly – especially under lateral acceleration – while maintaining balanced and neutral handling. Besides allowing optimum traction under acceleration by eliminating slip induced losses, the system continuously monitors a wide range of sensory inputs – for example steering angle, lateral acceleration, yaw angle and speed – to distribute torque so as to achieve maximum safety in challenging conditions or when encountering sudden changes in road surface friction. The DTC Mode of the Dynamic Stability Control offers a more rear wheel drive bias torque distribution for even more dynamic handling.
Automatic 8-speed Sports Automatic with ALPINA SWITCH-TRONIC.
The BMW ALPINA B7 xDrive utilizes a new generation of the excellent 8-Speed Sport Automatic Transmission with ALPINA SWITCH-TRONIC. Further refined and adapted to the performance characteristics of the high-torque V8 twin-turbo in collaboration with ZF, the transmission offers exceptional driving comfort in all situations.Close gear ratios and a total spread of 7.81:1 improve shift comfort and efficiency. In Automatic Mode the combination of eight gears and high engine torque makes for relaxed, luxurious cruising at low engine rpm even when travelling at higher speeds.
In Sport Mode the shift points have been optimized for improved driving performance and are considerably more dynamic with the option to activate the Launch Control function. For maximum dynamic performance, the driver selects the Manual Mode thereby actuating gear changes manually by using the SWITCH-TRONIC buttons on the back of the steering wheel or via the gear selector switch on the center console. In addition to lightning quick gear shifts (approximately a tenth of a second), this mode also holds the selected gear even when the engine hits the rev limiter.
All components of the transmission such as the torque converter with lock-up clutch, the planetary wheel sets and the inner cooling are designed to specifically cope with the high torque output of the V8 twin-turbo engine. This means that no torque reduction is necessary during upshifts when selecting the Launch Control or when using the sportiest configuration of the Manual Mode. This contributes significantly to the striking longitudinal dynamics of the all-new BMW ALPINA B7 xDrive and allowing it to sprint from 0 – 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds. The transmission features the latest Comfort and Efficient Dynamics functions such as ConnectedShift (use of navigation data for an anticipatory shift strategy based on traffic routing) and Coasting (decoupling of the engine and transmission when coasting).
Athletic and elegant design throughout the B7.
The appearance of the all-new BMW ALPINA B7 xDrive is defined by athletic flair and elegance. The ALPINA design and aerodynamic elements emphasize its performance character, with the front and rear spoiler striking a harmonious balance and highlighting the powerful presence of the 2017 BMW ALPINA B7 xDrive. The design blends form and function – the aerodynamic components reduce lift on the front and rear axles to almost zero for maximum driving stability at all speeds. Openings at the front of the vehicle allow the precise and effective flow of air to the individual components of the high-performance cooling system. The iconic BMW kidney grille is fitted with an integrated air flap control system that adapts to the BMW ALPINA B7 xDrive’s cooling needs: when closed it further reduces the level of aerodynamic drag.
The 20 inch ALPINA CLASSIC wheels with twenty spokes and concealed air valves give the powerful BMW ALPINA B7 xDrive a touch of elegance and lightness. In the interests of weight reduction and a striking technical appearance, the optional 21 inch ALPINA CLASSIC forged wheels with visible wheel bolts do not feature concealed air valves and wheel caps.
The ALPINA sports exhaust system features two elliptical twin tailpipes that reflect the performance of the all-new BMW ALPINA B7 xDrive and its powerful V8 engine. They are precisely integrated in the rear apron and give the rear a smooth, elegant look.
The exclusive paint finishes in ALPINA Blue metallic and ALPINA Green metallic are a hallmark feature reserved solely for BMW ALPINA automobiles. Other BMW and BMW Individual paint finishes are also available for the 2017 BMW ALPINA B7 xDrive.
Interior and Equipment.
An extensive range of standard equipment ensures maximum well-being and comfort, including high-end Nappa leather, comfort seats, a leather-covered instrument panel, ceramic inserts on selected control elements and soft close doors. Equipment features that enhance effortless driving also come as standard in the new BMW ALPINA B7 xDrive, such as a full-color Head-Up Display, a rear view camera, the latest BMW navigation and communication and infotainment systems.
ALPINA details add exclusivity and individual style to the interior. Hand-finished using exceptionally high-quality LAVALINA leather, the sports steering wheel with blue and green stitching is captivating at the very first touch due to its gentle feel. Timeless Piano lacquer or classic Myrtle Luxury Wood - the ALPINA interior trim, door sills with blue illumination, ALPINA B7 model inscriptions and an individual production plaque are further examples of exclusive equipment features in the new BMW ALPINA B7 xDrive.
Another exclusive ALPINA design is the full-color digital instrument panel in LED technology. In Comfort Mode it offers a classic look featuring round instruments with blue background and red needles. In Sport Mode the display changes to a more dynamic design with blue and green drag indicators and a focus on primary information, such as the centrally positioned permanent digital speed read-out.