• 1981 B7 turbo

Nature abhors a vacuum

Updated: Sep 23, 2018

There was an empty garage space. No project car to occupy my free time. And an opportunity staring me in my face. I had no choice.

That's why I bought my second early-80s Alpina that was on Bring-a-Trailer, almost two years after I bought the first, my 1982 C1 2.3 ( Certainly the purchase was not because it made sense. Indeed, many – including my wife – might argue it’s crazy to buy a second almost-40 year old car sight-unseen that you don’t intend to drive that much, especially when you already have three cars (not to mention the two your wife and 22 year old daughter have) and only two garage spaces. But, as I said, I bought it because I had no choice.

When I first saw the B7 in my BaT email, it taunted me over my morning coffee yet I had no intention of buying it. Still I kept going back to it, over and over again. The car looked to be in good to very good driver condition, not concourse or a garage queen – just the way I like them! And it was in Portland, not that far from me in Northern California. Previously it been in California and had a BAR sticker, a fact prominently featured in the BaT listing.

That BAR sticker was a controversial thing. Did it make the car easy to register in California? My experience was that it didn’t and I couldn’t stop myself from saying so, starting a mini-kerfuffle in the comment section. Like I said, at the time I had no intention of bidding on the car, but some comments said the sticker was still good and still others suggested there were other ways to get the car registered in California, some legal and some maybe not.

The BAR sticker kerfuffle kept me going back to the auction and it started me thinking. Although I was sure the BAR sticker was irrelevant, were there other ways to legally register that car in California? So, I did a little internet research and devised a plan on how to clear that hurdle.

The next hurdle was to get eyes on the car; although I’ve bought several cars sight-unseen, it is suboptimal and with something this much of a unicorn, I was wanted to avoid that at all costs. Plus, the car was being turned over rather quickly; the seller bought it about a year ago and that made me a bit uncomfortable. But time was running out. So I contacted an old acquaintance – I don’t mean she’s old just that our acquaintanceship is old – that is more enthusiastic and knows more about BMWs than me and happens to live near the seller. But we had two days left in the auction and a small window of the seller’s time. That didn’t work out.

About the same time the guy who sold it to the seller about a year ago piped up in the BaT auction comment section, talking up the car and it’s overall condition. A few text with the seller and I got comfortable enough to bid. Worst-case scenario, I can’t afford to send my son to college and he lives with me for the rest of my life.

Since the boy is funny (for a teenager) and helps me working on the cars, I could live with the chances that he was saddled to me for another decade or so. I took the plunge and started bidding with 5 minutes to go in the auction. The result is obvious – I wouldn’t be writing this up or have the web site if I lost the auction – and I didn’t even get that close to my final price. (For those who want to win an auction, here’s some advice: Show your intent by making your bids in large increments over the price, repeatedly if necessary. Folks can tell you’re not trying to simply get it for a few dollars more than their bid.)

The B7 getting on the truck in Portland

The B7 arrives!


The maiden voyage

At home

The rest of this web site will be going over the overall condition of the car and efforts to bring the car back to glory, but here are a few pictures of it getting off the truck and at home.

For now I’ll leave you with this: This is the fourth car I’ve bought sight-unseen (the second Alpina) and they all have quirks and unanticipated issues. But this one, so far at least, seems to have the least. Am I happy with the purchase? Yes. Do I love the car? Yes.

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