Alpina’s involvement with cars began with Burkard Bovensiepen’s purchase of a used Fiat 1500 – he wasn’t satisfied with the performance of the Fiat so he brought the car to a friend for a tune-up and make sure that is was running correctly. Burkard and his friend added a Weber carburetor, a more aggressive camshaft and opened up the muffler. This raised the horsepower from 67 bhp to 75 bhp. But shortly thereafter, a cloud of blue smoke began to follow the car and Burkard decided to stop driving Fiats.
Bovensiepen had always been interested in BMW cars. And when BMW introduced the 1800 in 1963, he saw an opportunity. The customers who had recently purchased a 1500 were of course disappointed. The BMW 1500cc four-cylinder engine had four well-designed intake ports and only one small carburetor, so he recognized that he could improve the performance of the car with modification to its intake system. And with that, the first BMW-Alpina tuning kit was created. The tuning kits cost 980 DM including installation and raised performance of the 1500 to parity with the newer 1800. BMW’s own R&D department tested the Alpina kit and they found nothing wrong with Alpina’s work. This lead to the first BMW factory support for Alpina, which over time proved invaluable. That support made the company’s products more desirable to BMW enthusiasts, as it meant that installation of Alpina components did not void the BMW warranty.
However, Alpina didn’t receive immediate acclaim from the press. Auto, Motor und Sport stated that Alpina’s engine modifications would have a negative effect on longevity and reliability. Bovensiepen invited Auto, Motor und Sport to test the car themselves instead of just commenting on the concept of BMW tuning. That test showed that the Alpina-BMW 1500 was equal in terms of performance with the stock BMW 1800. The Alpina car showed no signs of stress or fragility. Auto, Motor und Sport were clearly enthusiastic about the Alpina’s performance. They also noted that the quality of the car´s fit and finish was such that it appeared to have originated directly from BMW. The BMW factory themselves were so impressed that the higher-performance 1800ti was introduced with engine components identical to those developed by Alpina.
In 1983 – after a lot of hard work – Alpina become a car manufacturer in its own right.