I once owned a modified car. I was in my late twenties, and having obtained enough money to spend on myself, I indulged the fantasies of my inner teenager and bought a car to modify. It had the works done; brakes, springs, turbo, exhaust etc. Sure, I was brash with the alterations, and perhaps didn't make the best decisions - a symptom of being overly gleeful at the promises of a finished product - however there was one aspect of the project for which I hadn't accounted.
Or, more accurately, the aggressive attention.
Perhaps I wasn't ready for the full responsibility of joining the culture of car modification. Perhaps it was just something that occurs in the places I drove. But it seemed that at every set of lights there was someone who was ready for a drag, or another person who wished to point out how much of a bell-end I truly am.
Sure, the exchanges are harmless and can even be fun sometimes, but after a while, it began to be tiring. Every red light was a moment of dread as someone else sidled their car up in the adjacent lane, and I awaited any attempt they made to obtain contact.
Sometimes nobody cared about what I was driving. Othertimes they did care. They cared enough to make some obscene gesture in my direction. Competitive banter is fine, but it does become tiresome.
One of my dream rides is an E92 BMW M3, in manual. There are many merits to this vehicle, such as the unabashed rawness of the V8 beneath that sculpted hood/bonnet, however I find myself drawn to the understated nature of the car's styling. The clean lines and panels of the car would make it invisible to all but the car enthusiast who notices the telltale side vents and differently-shaped bonnet.
But time, as it is wont to do, marches on. Fashion trends rise up before eroding into the quagmire from which they bubbled. The M3 (and M4) still maintain a restrained styling, although it seems that the M twins have emerged a little from their timid shell, now hinting at their performance creds with more creases, nooks, and crannies, and a more frowny front.
Which leads me on to the brand that has recently obtained a little more attention of late - at least in the country where I reside; Alpina. The outfit that has seen fit to spruce up BMWs and give the models a bit more time in the cellar has now caught my eye, and definitely appeals to my wallflower tendencies.
Although, if press are to be believed, the car's performance belies its arguably pedestrian exterior.
Gone are the garish details like side vents, and while the front and rear of the Alpina could be considered busy, I don't feel they are too far beyond the current BMW pencil - and are decidedly timid in the face of what is currently being shown for future BMW models.
Yet my rationale isn't all about the styling and the ability to fly under the radar of every traffic light hoon. There is also the matter of handling.
M cars are fun. They are meant to be fun. I do not deny that, and do not begrudge anyone who delights in partaking in the sideways dance that feature on seemingly all video car reviews. Upon viewing video after video of M3 and M4 reviews that feature screams of laughter inside a happily-sideways car that is wearing a tail of blue clouds, I cannot help but wonder if I am too fuddy-duddy for the M brand now.
I am not going to deny my fuddy-duddiness.
It feels as though the M cars are for providing that white-knuckled experience when the driver wants it, and to provide it with as much drama and theatre it can. Whereas I feel the Alpina is delivering the surge of performance competently, even if it is a little slower than the barmy M model. It will thrill in those rarer moments that a spirited drive is demanded, but is far more tolerable for the 95% of journeys.
As the miles I travel are predominantly sedate, with only the few enthusiastic swerves through curving roads in the hills, I would prefer a car that is smooth and refined for its sole purpose, but in a moment will provide just enough urge and surge to satisfy that inner teenager. It doesn't need to be the best, as I am sure the M cars provide. It just needs to be "enough".
So, I'd rather take a "B" while others have an "M". And to those who would call me a bell-end, well they are just "W's" as well.