CARPOOL: ALPINA B10 (E39)
E39+B10= wonderful motoring. It's like a scientific formula...
Owned since:January 2012
Previously owned:F355 (current), R33 GT-R (x2), M3 (x2), Tuscan 4.0, MR2 Turbo
I knew the GT-R was going to be short-lived when a delightful East London chap in matching Umbro gave us the thumbs up at the lights. That and the four-foot flames on lift-off. Cue the mental. I fancied something quick, practical and comfortable with a degree of exclusivity, but on a limited budget. A B10 seemed a good compromise in terms of power, practicality and marital harmony. She doesn't like the stripes, but is dealing with it. And 20mpg average is a meaningful improvement in the fleet although, to be fair, it only gets used on weekends.
What I wish I'd known:
I wish I'd known how good they are. I'd have bought it sooner. The Alpina Register has some useful knowledge and I luckily managed to trace all the former owners of the car on there before going to view it, so had a good idea of maintenance schedule. Turns out it's been undersealed from day one and is unusually clean. They have all the usual E39 foibles, but also positive traits, so if you do the research you can buy a good one. It's so well screwed-together it feels like you could drive through a brick wall and keep on going. Oh, and I obviously need new driving gloves, as red doesn't match...
It's tempting to say 'Not having to indicate'. I love the velvet glove, iron fist approach of the car. It's such an elegant barge to waft about in and yet she can really hike up her skirts and move when provoked. 170+ mph is still decent. There's not all that many about and to the average Joe, it looks like a garden-variety 5 Series with wheels, but the cognoscenti give you the occasional nod or lift of the index finger. Oh, and I love my PH smiley...
Things I hate:
Nothing really. The steering (box rather than rack <snigger>) isn't the last word in feedback, and the mpg from the V8 isn't fabulous, although it gets close to 30mpg on a run. Because they're so well built, getting decent sound out of the stereo is a bit of a mission, but the standard set-up if pretty good. Checking all four tyre pressures is a 20 minute job. Seriously. I do miss having an LSD, too, as getting the power down out of tight corners or a junction needs some feathering of the throttle.
Aside from the Alpina bits like engine and drivetrain, most of the parts are standard 540, so easy to source. So far I've had the steering box adjusted, new track rod ends and a four-wheel alignment, as well as three minor corrosion points addressed, but other than that it's been plain sailing. The iPod connector was a simple plug-and-play, so apart from a digital TV tuner, it doesn't need a thing. Insurance through a classic policy is very reasonable and any half-decent mechanic should be able to look after it. Like many PHers, I use Paul at Prestige Autocare and cannot fault him at all. 275/30/19 rubber isn't going to be cheap when the time comes I suspect.
It's early days so nothing major yet. I took it to lunch in the countryside recently and it hustled down the country lanes well enough, especially using the touchtronic gearshift on the steering wheel. It'll be doing duty down to France in June, lugging wedding booze and other kit down and back.
Some cars in your garage make you turn and look back, just because. The 355 does that, and happily so does the B10. I plan to keep it for the foreseeable future, and I expect it'll be roped into lugging family around (once that time comes). Should finances allow, I may consider looking at a B5 in the future but for now it does everything I need and more. Definitely one of my best purchases!