Market Watch Alpina B10 V8 E39 - Saloon and Touring models
Alpina’s exclusive E39 B10 V8 Saloon and Touring are fast becoming collectable classics – but make sure you buy a top-notch example.
Words: Guy Baker
Our expert takes a look at the ultra-rare E39 Alpina B10 V8.
Almost all BMW aficionados have some kind of soft spot for V8 E39s, and Alpina’s bespoke takes on the theme are now becoming sought-after with classic collectors. Bettering the 540i in virtually all regards and matching the E39 M5 in terms of performance and kudos, an Alpina B10 can also prove cheaper to maintain than an M5 – and there’s even a Touring version for those who prefer their thrills in five-door form. Alpina produced three different versions of their V8 B10 in the E39 era (as well as three six-cylinder models), and well-maintained examples of all three are now appreciating in value.
Alpina’s first E39 B10 V8 was produced from early 1997 to October 1998 and packed a 340hp 4619cc 32-valve DOHC V8 engine under the bonnet. The saloons set original UK buyers back a minimum of £64,000, and the car’s performance was seriously impressive for the day, with 347lb ft of torque at 3800rpm translating into a 5.9-second 0-62mph time, plus a top speed that came perilously close to 170mph.
The B10’s powerplant was based loosely on the 540i M62 V8 engine, but Alpina’s engineers made some pretty substantial changes to it: as well as a capacity increase from 4.4-litres and adding new valve seats, they also gas-flowed the cylinder head, fitted uprated camshafts, balanced the crankshaft and fitted bespoke lightweight Mahle aluminium pistons. The resulting step-up in performance over the 540i was further enhanced in 1998 when the B10’s engine was tweaked to produce 347hp. This incarnation ran from 1998 until 2002, when a third even faster Alpina B10 V8 S model was produced. With the same bore but an increased stroke and new piston rings, the engine’s capacity grew to 4837cc, while further improvements to the intake system raised output to 381hp and 383lb ft of torque. This final V8 S model – which ran until 2004 – claims a 5.4-second 0-62mph time and is capable of 170mph flat out.
All three iterations of the V8 B10 claim a similar Alpina-remapped five-speed Switchtronic automatic transmission, along with steering-wheel-mounted shift buttons, lowered suspension with twin-tube Sachs gas dampers, uprated anti-roll bars, an Alpina exhaust, ventilated brake discs and of course those definitive 18” (or 19” on the V8 S) Alpina multi-spoke alloys. A low-profile front spoiler and optional rear were also fitted, with exterior options available, including xenon headlights, bespoke body colours and special lacquering. The V8 S also boasted uprated Brembo brakes with four-piston calipers, while interior options on all models included bespoke leather and Alcantara trim colours, sports seats, Alpina wood inlays and instruments, plus a hand-stitched steering wheel.
Alpina B10 prices seem very reasonable at the moment, but the finest examples are being snapped up by collectors, so if you’re tempted, we’d recommend you buy one soon before all the good examples have gone. Prices start at around £9000 for older or higher-mileage cars, rising to £20,000-plus for better examples. And pristine examples of the Alpina B10 V8 S now fetch more than £35,000.
Mileage does play a big part in determining B10 V8 values, so if you can stretch to an example with less than 100,000 miles, it’s likely to appreciate more rapidly. Few appear on forecourts these days, with some sold privately and others sold at classic car auctions.
Most V8 B10s are saloons, so when a rare Touring appears for sale, the demand – and the price – is likely to be high, especially if it’s an immaculate V8 S like this 2002 Alpina green Touring we discovered at Classic Heroes (www. classicheroes.co.uk) in Sussex. Sitting at the very top of the B10 price range the plaque shows production number 20, and this car has covered 93,000 miles. As well as a full service history, this super-looking V8 S comes with an impressive spec, including things like Individual leather upholstery, the larger 19” Alpina alloys, Alpina spoilers and body kit, front electric sports seats with memory, Alpina wood trim, front and rear PDC, xenon headlights, M5 mirrors, TV function, the professional navigation system and a six-CD changer. And if you can get anywhere near the £42,000 asking price, it could be yours.
Most V8 S, however, are a good deal less expensive, with this 1998 Orient blue metallic saloon showing just what you could pick up if you’re lucky. For sale at Motodrome (www.motodrome.com) in Oxfordshire for just £11,795, it comes with black leather upholstery, has covered 107k miles and carries plaque number 295. This car comes with climate control, front and rear PDC, headlamp wash, heated memory electric seats, cruise control, the BMW book pack and two keys. With B10s thin on the ground, some buyers have sought to import examples instead, similar to this one we found for sale at the Car Warehouse in Cleveland (www.thecarwarehouse.co.uk). An LHD Japanese example, it’s quite likely to be rust-free and carries number 151 of 151. Better still, it’s covered just 59,271 miles and is sensibly priced at £17,999. As well as a complete service history showing 18 entries, it also comes with the original handbooks and keys.
But, wherever you choose to buy your Alpina B10, it should come with a full BMW/Alpina specialist service history, plus a history file full of old service receipts and MOTs and unmarked alloys. Tyres are expensive to replace, with four likely to set you back around £800 and look out for any signs of rust – the sills, underbody, jacking points, and wheel arches are all known problem areas. Other potential issues reported by owners include failing water pumps, radiators and hoses, blown head gaskets, worn wheel bearings, tired Alpina dampers and bushes, water-damaged parking sensors and blown pixels on the dashboard computer display. A lot of general parts are actually the same as those on the E39 540i, while some 4.6-litre engine parts are shared in common with the E53 X5 4.6iS. However, bespoke Alpina parts will prove harder or more expensive to source.
Total BMW Retail Price Guide
- POOR: Under £9000
- GOOD: £13,500 to £20,000
- EXCELLENT: £9000 to £20,000
- SPECIAL EDITIONS: £20,000+
- SPECIAL EDITIONS: Low-mileage V8S can fetch £25,000 or more
I’m very grateful to Grant Darling and Darren Parker at James Paul ( jamespaul.co.uk), the BMW Car Club of Great Britain (bmwcarclubgb.uk), British Car Auctions (www.bca.com), Silverstone Auctions (silverstoneauctions.com), Bonhams (bonhams.com), Coys (coys.co.uk), Classic Car Auctions (www. classiccarauctions.co.uk), Glenmarch.com, www.bimmerforums.co.uk and Glass’s (glassbusiness.co.uk) their help with this feature.
Recent E39 Alpina B10 Auction Prices*
- Model Transmission Registration Year Mileage Sale Price
- Alpina B10 V8 Saloon Auto 2000/W 86,629 £11,000
- Alpina B10 V8 Saloon Auto 2000/W 110,136 £10,368
- Alpina B10 V8 Saloon Auto 2001/Y 103,476 £11,950
- Alpina B10 V8 S Saloon Auto 2002/02 145,000 £10,627
- Alpina B10 V8 S Touring Auto 2002/52 82,580 £28,500
- Alpina B10 V8 S Saloon Auto 2003/52 69,000 £19,500