Alpina founder Burkard Bovensiepen has died at the age of 87

The maker of the coolest BMWs is unfortunately no more

"Burkard Bovensiepen was a visionary, a perfectionist, a man of clear ideas," Alpina said in a statement. "Whenever he had an idea in his head, he was never too tired to refine it until it matched his vision and expectations 100 percent." Alpina founder Burkard Bovensiepen has built a beautiful brand in the 87 years he has lived.

Bovensiepen was born in 1936 in the German city of Chemnitz. After high school, he studied mechanical engineering before switching to business administration. He later developed modified intake systems for carburetors to improve performance. Bovensiepen did this for 'different car brands', but there was only one brand that really excited him: BMW.

Approval from BMW

In 1963, the first Alpina version of a Bimmer rolled out of the factory: a BMW 1500 with a 'state-of-the-art' four-cylinder. Due to the good work, BMW sent a message to customer service stating that the adjustment could be added safely without running into warranty issues. “Essentially a nod of approval from BMW's board,” Alpina said.

Despite BMW's approval, Alpina was unable to secure a spot at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1963. That is why the brand decided to put an Alpina brochure under the windshield wipers of every BMW 1500 that was in the parking lot. 'A smart marketing campaign that secured sales of the first hundred carburetor sets' according to the brand.

Where does the name Alpina come from?

Bovensiepen named his company – which was founded in 1965 – after his father's typewriter factory. That name is another nod to the nearby Alps. Bovensiepen also entered motorsport with Alpina in the 1960s.

"According to him, motorsport was the stage where one could best demonstrate his technical know-how and fanaticism," says Alpina. Bovensiepen did not sign small boys. Drivers such as Derek Bell, James Hunt, Jacky Ickx and Niki Lauda were 'all on Alpina's payroll'.

The first car from Alpina itself

It took until 1978 before Alpina's first own car was built. There were three by the way: the B6 2.8, the B7 Turbo and B7 Turbo Coupe. In 1983, Alpina registered as a real car manufacturer. Later highlights include the B10 biturbo, which in 1989 was the fastest sedan ever. Then came the first 3 Series with a V8 in 1995 and the first diesel from Alpina in 1999. Of course we cannot forget the Alpina Roadster, based on the Z8, which was the first Alpina in America.

Since 2002, Alpina has been managed by the two sons, while Burkard focused on Alpina's wine business (which he started in 1979). After more than fifty years of collaboration, BMW purchased the rights from Alpina in March 2022. Bovensiepen's company may continue to build the current line-up until 2025. After this, BMW calls the shots and Alpina gets 'a new strategy'. BMW has not yet revealed what that strategy will be.

'We owe it to his life's work that BMW Alpina cars and the Alpina brand enjoy a first-class reputation worldwide. His legacy is visible to this day in every car delivered,” the brand wrote. Rest in peace, Burkard Bovensiepen.