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The Best of the Best 2003: Sports Cars - BMW Alpina Roadster

Fluto Shinzawa

In today’s horsepower-crazed market, it is a rare occasion when an auto- maker dials down performance in a second edition. But for many owners of the sleek retro-styled BMW Z8, the roadster’s rev-happy 5.0-liter, 394-hp manual M engine was a mite too powerful for everyday driving.

In response, BMW turned to Alpina, a German aftermarket company, and commissioned it to build the $137,595 BMW Alpina Roadster. The machine’s styling is nearly identical to the Z8’s, but Alpina introduced a more user-friendly V-8. The engine has shrunk to a 4.8-liter, 375-hp block, but at low rpm it produces more power than the original: The Alpina delivers 383 ft lbs of torque at 3,800 rpm, while the Z8’s M engine puts out 368 ft lbs. This difference is significant because it enabled BMW to mate the V-8 with an automatic transmission (the Z8 is available with only a 6-speed manual).

BMW, www.bmwusa.com

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