Best of Bavaria: Greatest cars from BMW M and Alpina

The 3.0-litre B7 Turbo was one of a trio of machines that Alpina launched in 1978 to announce the fact that its factory would now supply customers with a complete car, rather than simply offering upgrades for BMWs. With technology trickled down from F1, the B7 was also the first turbocharged Alpina, and given that in 1978 it made almost as much torque as the E39 M5 would a quarter of a century later, it’s easy to see why forced induction became an Alpina hallmark – and why the clutch was reinforced.

BMW M3 (E46) – £40,300 in 2001, £13,500 now

Legend has it that M engineers set up the E46 M3 to steer more sweetly on opposite lock, and given the aptitude with which it will hold slides, we don’t doubt it. But there are other reasons why this M3, like its M5 contemporary, can lay claim to being the greatest M car ever. It’s ideally proportioned for B-roads, the S54 is one of the most soulful and linear engines ever made and there’s the option of a six-speed manual gearbox. Buy while you still can.

BMW M5 (E28) – £31,300 IN 1985, £65,000 now

What makes the E28 M5 so extraordinary is that while it didn’t make waves when new, being almost as expensive as the (admittedly less powerful) Ferrari 308 GTB and aesthetically restrained, it set the template for M cars. Under its bonnet was the same M88 engine used by the M1 supercar, yet its interior was sumptuous and its road manners polite. And, of course, it properly handled, with a mechanical limited-slip differential at the back.

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