1982 BMW 3 Series323i E21 Kit Alpina
Year of manufacture1982
Engine numberJCG 010 D
Chassis number: WBAAH310808042061
Engine: JCG 010 D
Introduced in 1975, the BMW E21 replaced the ageing 2002 and heralded BMW’s revival. It would be a worldwide success and marked the start of the ‘3 Series’ name, which is still in use today. The E21 served as the basis for many motorsport enthusiasts: after all, it came from Germany, home to many tuners and specialist workshops which were then in their heyday. On the – by no means exhaustive – list of these mechanical wizards, the name of Alpina is known to all.
Jean Claude Giroix (alias JCG) was one of the leading BMW dealers in France at the time, and from 1980 the exclusive importer of Alpina through the Garage du Bac. Alpina enjoyed considerable success in competition and also sold engine kits to its customers for their road-going cars. The cars were comprehensively modified and re-assembled by Alpina in Germany at considerable expense.
Drawing on his success in competition and faced with the high cost and lengthy waiting time for the tuned engines from Alpina, Giroix offered his customers an alternative approach to preparing their engines, carried out in his own workshops. These tuning kits are exceptionally rare, as the work was undertaken with great care but in very limited numbers. They could be found on the cars used for promotional purposes or loaned to racing drivers in the 1981/82 seasons to travel to the different circuits. It was at this time that Jean-Pierre Malcher was crowned the French touring car champion, driving a 320 prepared by the Garage du Bac at Montlhéry.
The tuning work carried out in period concerned the head (the valves were changed and hotter cams fitted) and also the pistons. The capacity of the engine remained unchanged at 2.3 litres, but maximum power increased from 143bhp to 173bhp at 6500rpm. The work on the cylinder head is magnificent and the six-into-two steel exhaust manifold is a real work of art. The changes made to the chassis and running gear are no less thorough than those to the engine, with Alpina parts used throughout and performance options from BMW including the limited-slip differential and BMW Sport gearbox with a dog-leg first.
During this time, the German carburation specialist VGS (Viktor Gunther Sport) offered its customers an intake kit for the 320 or 323i comprising three 40mm Weber carburettors, which boosted the power developed by the engine and above all changed the sound produced by the magnificent in-line six. These special intake manifolds are now extremely rare!
The car we are presenting today, fitted with kit number 10, shows the Garage du Bac at the top of its game in the early 1980s. With its somewhat flashy appearance typical of the period, it is a real time machine. With the ignition on and the driver and passenger comfortably installed in the bucket seats with their Alpina logos, the engine fires up at the first turn of the key. The sound of the 2.3-litre engine is captivating, fed by the VGS Weber carburettors and breathing freely through the Alpina exhaust with its twin tailpipes. Although the engine’s state of tune appears impressive on paper, the BMW is surprisingly smooth. Very tractable at low revs, it turns into an absolute monster when you have some fun with the rev counter and short-ratio sports gearbox.
With its unique patina, this JCG presents very well: only the bonnet and boot lid have been repainted, even the Alpina stickers are original! Its history is clear and well-known, with six previous owners, all of them passionate about this amazing car. Its current owner is the co-founder of both the Alpina France Club and the BMW E21 France Club.
The car is ready to hit the road and comes with three sets of keys, its safety inspection certificate (‘contrôle technique’) and regular French registration papers.