This one's for sale in the USA.
While Mercedes-Benz and Audi still offer a rapid wagon in America, it's been some time since rival brand BMW has sold a performance longroof in the States. The Munich-based brand and its M performance subsidiary disappointed fans when it announced the BMW M3 Touring won't be making it to our shores. But if you simply must have a practical performer with a BMW badged affixed to the rear, there are other alternatives.
This absolutely delightful 1996 Alpina B3 3.2 Touring is a prime example. It might not be quite as rapid as the new M3, but the 3.2-liter inline-six should prove potent enough. Based on the range-topping 328i E36 Touring, Alpina enlarged the 2.8-liter mill which resulted in 265 horsepower and 243 lb-ft of torque. That may not sound like much now, but it's a lot more than the contemporary M3 was making back then. Naturally, power goes to the rear wheels via the five-speed automatic transmission.
If the idea of a two-pedal sports wagon puts you off, this particular model has been equipped with Alpina's unique switch-tronic setup that allows the driver to control the gears via buttons on the steering wheel. It's not quite as engaging as a manual, but it's something.
In typical Alpina fashion, the B3 3.2 Touring has been subtly enlivened with tasteful spoilers and add-ons. The multi-spoke 17-inch wheels work beautifully with the original Alpina Blue Metallic paintwork. The tuner's signature decals flow down either side of the bodywork and let other road users know this isn't your average BMW wagon.
Reportedly, just 89 units of the B3 Touring were made between 1996 and 1999. This '96 model is number 23 and was originally supplied new to Japan before being whisked away to the Netherlands. Now, it's up for auction on Cars & Bids with a Pennsylvania title. We're guessing BMW fans are salivating at this moment; it's unlikely that another example will pop up for sale anytime soon.
Inside, those familiar with the E36 will feel right at home. Alpina has made a few changes, such as the speedometer that reads 300 km/h (186 mph), a leather-wrapped steering wheel (with unique badging), wood trim, Alpina floor mats and cloth upholstery, and, lastly, an Alpina plaque.
For a 26-year-old car, the rare wagon is well-equipped. There's a powered sunroof, climate control, a trip computer, and the retro BMW Business RDS radio, which still includes the original cassette player. Despite covering 167,500 kilometers (104,080 miles) since new, the B3 3.2 presents beautifully. Yes, there are a few scratches and scrapes to be found but it's nothing a week or two at the body shop won't fix.
You don't even have to be a BMW fan to appreciate how special this car is. At the time of writing, there are six days left before the auction closes. The current bid stands at $24,000 but we won't be surprised to see that figure inflate in the coming days.