Is This Alpina-Inspired BMW E28 The Ideal Way To Revive A Car?
Photography by Andrey Smazhilo
If you’ve been with us long enough, you probably remember the story of the white-and-blue BMW 2002 that I wrote about two years ago. It has been a while since I last saw the car but yes, now it is a turbo. Not the one the 2002 was in 1973, but reimagined by modern mechanics and engineers. The project has been finished, the turbo installed, and the car now makes around 300 horsepower through the rear wheels, thanks to semi-slick tires.
Both father Nodar Dzhincharadze and his son Ilya drive modern BMWs on a daily basis, but despite this fact, while their 2002 project was in progress, Nodar understood that he wanted to rebuild another classic BMW. He was determined to make it more comfortable and then enjoy driving it daily in the summertime. However, things do not always go as planned.
When one of the SportKB mechanics found himself a silver 1982 BMW 518, he drove it for a couple of months and then the E28 went to Nodar. The last of the shark-nose BMWs, equipped with a carbureted inline-four M10B18 engine, it was a perfect base for another dream car. The body needed some TLC but not such massive amount of work like the 2002. It was obvious that the engine had to go and be replaced with a more modern and more potent powerplant.
From the very beginning, it had been decided that the car would be an Alpina B7 Turbo replica. At least, on the outside, since Alpina engines are extremely rare and hard to find, especially in Russia. Another point was that Nodar wanted a quiet classic cruiser and even had plans on putting an automatic gearbox in the E28. How mistaken he was…as soon as his son convinced him to replace the old and shaky stocks with a set of coilovers, Nodar understood that his dream of a cruiser was fading away.
The body was fixed and painted in Alpina Grün metallic. When the car came out of the paint booth, everybody in the workshop were shocked by how rich and deep the color was. The suspension was also rebuilt and put in the car, including the LSD-equipped 535i rear end, but it was extremely hard to handle two complex projects at the same time, so the 2002 received more attention, while the E28 became something like a weekend project.
Nevertheless, as soon as the 2002 Turbo project was finished, it was time to breathe new life into the Grün beast. The question with the drivetrain was still open, and Nodar was even considering an M70B50 engine with an automatic gearbox from a BMW 75oi (E32). Thankfully, each and every one of SportKB mechanics are BMW fanatics, so they managed to find a freshly rebuilt S38B38 engine from a late E34 BMW M5 and put it in the car in a matter of days. With the body, suspension and engine swap complete, there were only some minor things to do like the interior, bigger brakes, Alpina front bumper, decals and wheels, all of which took their time…
I first saw the E28 when it was a naked body sitting in the garage and ready for paint. What happened to it in approximately two years is simply mind-blowing. For sure, you can do an engine swap in several weeks or even days but a complete nut-and-bolt restoration is not that easy. Doing some things faster does not always mean that there will be quality, so if you decide to completely rebuild your car, patience will be your best friend.
I called Nodar two months ago and offered to take the car out for a shoot, since it was almost finished except for the decals and wheels, and we decided to do it on the weekend. I drove to the SportKB workshop, where his both cars were parked. When I arrived, he told me that he wanted to make a double shoot but, as it turned out, we did not have another driver. Thankfully, Nodar handled me the keys from the E28 and told me to enjoy myself but to be careful and delicate with the throttle on our way to the shooting location.
Well, I tried. And I did just fine, though there were several moments when I expected the car to go sideways but it did not. It simply stuck to the road, going through turns as if it were on rails. The resulting Alpina-inspired resto-mod is simply gorgeous, looks good from any angle, and I enjoyed driving the car for those 20 or 30 minutes that I had with it. I can’t wait to see what Nodar and SportKB will be up to next.