2002 Alpina V8 Roadster: BMW of North America
E52 (2002-2003) #AH62539
4,857cc F5/1 inline six-cylinder
BMW of North America
Woodcliff Lake, NJ (since 2002)
With its M5-sourced drivetrain, the Z8 was available only with a manual transmission, excluding potential customers who wanted a premium roadster with an automatic. To rectify that omission, Alpina offered its V8 Roadster, developed by Andreas Bovensiepen (son of Alpina founder Burkard) during his time at BMW.
The V8 Roadster featured Alpina’s five-speed Switch-Tronic automatic in place of the three-pedal six-speed. Introduced in 1992 and evolved continuously thereafter, Switch-Tronic allowed drivers to shift gears through buttons on the steering wheel, just like BMW’s SMG but with a torque converter’s inherent smoothness. Alpina also replaced the Z8’s M5-sourced engine with its own V8, the 4,857cc F5/1 that delivered another 18 pound-feet of torque compared to the Motorsport-built S62.
The Alpina V8 Roadster was slightly slower from zero to 60 mph, but it made up for it with a higher top speed and easier driveability. The latter was enhanced by Alpina’s softer but lower suspension, tuned to accommodate the car’s 20-inch Alpina wheels and low-profile tires—non-run flats for improved ride quality.
From June 2002 to October 2003, Alpina built 555 V8 Roadsters, including 450 for the US and Canada. It was thus the first Alpina imported officially to North America. The car seen here is #500 of 555, owned by BMW NA since new.