Production of the B7 has ceased for good.
If you're a BMW fan, we have some sad news - the Alpina B7 is no more. Yes, after forty years of producing high-speed limousines for the world's plutocrats, the high-end company has announced that the very last example has left the production line.
In a statement shared by Alpina, the BMW-owned tuner noted this signals the end of an icon. "With the latest change in the BMW G11/12 series to the G70 generation, the era of the BMW Alpina B7 is coming to an end in the Alpina automobile manufactory." We're just as surprised, as we had expected the latest iteration of the 7 Series to spring an Alpina variant. However, it seems this won't be the case.
It all started in the late '70s when BMW introduced the E23 7 Series. The company's S-Class rival was notably sportier and more dynamic than its rival from Stuttgart, but Alpina made it even more athletic. Before the B7 nomenclature was adopted, the racy 7er was known as the B8 3.2 and, later, the B9 3.5. Both were fitted with enhanced inline-six engines, the former producing around 237 horsepower. The latter provided around 242 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque.
The E32 hit the scene in 1987 and, for the first time in BMW's history, a car was made available with six-, eight-, and twelve-cylinder engines. Alpina offered upgrades for most of the models. The B11 3.5, for example, was based on the 735i and produced up to 250 horses. A mere 332 examples were produced. But if you think that's rare, then the B11 4.0 will bowl you over.
Alpina only made seven B11 models with the 4.0-liter V8 engine. The 310 hp and 302 lb-ft were good enough for a 0 - 62 mph sprint of 7.1 seconds.
The V12-powered B11 5.0 was, of course, the top dog of the range. 305 examples were made between July '88 and January '94, with all units packing 345 muscular German horses under the hood. Top speed? 171 mph - not bad for a 30-year-old luxury sedan.
With the introduction of the bewitching E38 - a car many consider one of the finest-looking sedans in the world - Alpina elected to offer only V12-powered models. The B12 5.7 and 6.0 models introduced "E-KAT" technology. Essentially, these vehicles were fitted with an electrically-heated metal catalytic converter which, says Alpina, could undercut 1996 European emission standards by up to 80%.
The 5.7 was produced for just three years (1995 - 1998) and, despite the allure of 382 hp and 413 lb-ft, just 202 were sold. The 6.0 is rarer still; production ceased in 2001 with a total of 94 units made. These are the most desirable of the E38 range and command big bucks when they surface at auction. As for power, there are 424 hp and 443 lb-ft to play with.
In terms of style, things started falling by the wayside. But Alpina can't be blamed for BMW's famed 'Bangle Butt' and attempted to improve the oft-criticized E65/E66 generation. This is the first time the sporty 7 Series adopted the B7 nomenclature and when it arrived in 2004, it proved a worthy adversary to the S55 AMG - these models boasted up to 493 hp.
Again, not many were made (just 1,114 units left the factory) but this was a success story for Alpina. A great deal of these vehicles came to America, and it was the first non-limited offering to be launched in the USA. Like its fierce rival, the E65/E66 B7 was powered by a supercharged V8 engine - a first for the company.
Building on the success of this model, the Alpina-fettled F01/F02 debuted as the B7 Bi-Turbo. A V8 was, once again, chosen to provide ample motivation - around 532 hp and 538 lb-ft. Again, this generation of B7 was a great success in the States, with the company importing nearly 1,000 examples into the country before the model was facelifted.
That brings us to the final B7 model - the G01. At a special ceremony, Alpina's CEO bid the legend goodbye. "The BMW Alpina B7 in its final stage of development marks a personal high point in the model history of the 7 series at Alpina. This model is the culmination of everything that Alpina and the 7 series at BMW stand for," said Florian Bovensiepen.
The last two models - painted in Alpina Green and Blue, respectfully - signal the end of an era for the tuner. Rather fittingly, the final model will head over to Scottsdale, Arizona. "When I look at the last ... Alpina B7 ... I see a milestone in our collaboration," added Bovensiepen.
So what will become of the B7 nameplate? Well, we're not sure yet. But we do know that Alpina's role is slowly changing. Now that it's wholly owned by BMW, the brand will reportedly plug the luxury gap sitting between its owner and Rolls-Royce. For all we know, Alpina models based on the new 7 Series could arrive, but with less emphasis on performance and even more luxury. But what is certain is that the 630-hp XB7 SUV won't get an equally-powered sedan counterpart.