There we were, earlier in the year, stuck in traffic on the Autobahn. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a distinctive shark-nose appear in view, it could only be a BMW E28 5-Series.
Or could it?
Technically this isn't a BMW, it's an Alpina. But it looks like a BMW - so how does that work then? Well Alpina are registered as a manufacturer in their own right rather than existing as an aftermarket tuning company, such is the amount of work undertaken on each of their cars and their relationship with BMW themselves.
This B9 3.5 started out as a BMW 528i (when Alpina launched the B9 in 1981 that was the top of the 5-series tree, the 535i and M5 didn't come until later). Alpina binned the 2.8 six in favour of the 3.5 from higher up in the BMW range and treated it to heavy modifications to further increase power by 27 horses to 245bhp.
Of course, such an increase in power requires upgrades to suspension and braking and Alpina duly obliged. The distinctive Alpina wheels immediately set the B9 apart from a regular 5er along with the striking front and rear bodywork addenda and reworked interior.
All this amounted to quite an increase in performance, 0-60 in under 6.5 seconds and over 150mph at the top end.
The B9 was the first Alpina to be based on the E28 5-series but they followed it up with the quicker still B10 four years later.
I adore the E28 5er, and I adore Alpina cars in general, Burkard Bovensiepen is a man who is responsible for some legendary BMW-derived cars over the years. I have to say though that the ultimate E28 for me is, and always will be, the M5.
This was one of the greatest Q-Cars of all time. A virtually standard-looking 5 (unlike the bespoilered Alpinas) packing an almighty 286bhp BMW Motorsport 3.5 six. The BMW M-Division hand-built nearly 2,200 of them.
The factory may have done it better, but the Alpina (as is usually the case) was there first. Both are a rare treat to see today.