The 1984 car so rare only BMW die-hards know it
Monty King, 69, a retired special projects coordinator at RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co. living in Winston-Salem, NC, on his 1984 BMW E30 Alpina C1 2.3, as AJ Baime put it.
One day six years ago a friend and I went to a race at the Virginia International Raceway and I noticed this BMW Alpina there. I was a big fan of BMW M cars, which are the German company’s top-performing line of customer vehicles. I’ve had four, including a 2004 BMW M3 convertible in a rare Laguna Seca blue paint that I love, and a 2002 Z3 M Coupe, which people call the ‘clown shoe’ because it’s shaped like a clown. ‘a clown shoe. But this BMW Alpina that I spotted interested me straight away. Because an Alpina is a rare thing to find in the United States. In fact, it’s rare to see one anywhere, even in Germany.
This car had a note with the owner’s phone number. So I called him and said, “Listen, I’m interested in buying this car. He told me he left a map on the car in case anyone wanted to talk about it, because it was so rare. The car was not for sale. “Give me your name and number,” he said, “and if I ever want to sell it, I’ll call you. So I did. This guy said, “Are you Monty King?” We went to college together!
The coincidence was strange. We had gone to school together at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. Two years later he was ready to sell. He called me and I bought the Alpina over the phone. Surprisingly, it didn’t cost much more than a new BMW 3 Series would have cost back then.
Let me explain what this car is. Alpina was founded in Germany in the 1960s. [It began when a tinkerer named Burkard Bovensiepen developed a new BMW carburetor in his family’s typewriter factory in 1962.] He began to transform BMW cars into motorsport and high performance models with the blessing of BMW itself. Alpina has been doing this ever since, in very small numbers, even to this day. BMW Alpina has built a huge racing heritage over the decades and a cult following for customer cars.
The 1984 Alpina that I own is exceptionally rare. Only 35 examples of this model were built between 1983 and 1985. To my knowledge, only two came to America, brought in by the military who discovered them while stationed overseas. From what I’ve been told, there is one on the west coast and one on the east coast, mine.
I love taking the Alpina to auto shows because most people have no idea what it is and how special it is. Then I meet people who know, and I can see how excited they are. Some people even ask if this is the real thing, as Alpina fans are known to buy the badge and stick it on regular BMW cars.
I am still in contact with my old friend from college who sold me this car. What a stroke of luck it was for me to run into him six years ago.
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