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My BMW Alpina B10 replica

Almost a quarter of a century later he managed to buy one; an Alpina B10 replica. (Alpina is a German tuning, customising and motorsport company specialising in BMWs.) Kelly's car started life as a 1986 BMW M635 CSi. It was bought for $55,000 in 1993 by Martin Dibb of Melbourne who then spent $82,000 completely rebuilding it to Alpina B10 specifications.

The first thing to go was the auto box which was replaced with a Getrag five-speed manual.  It also received a shorter drive shaft, engine remapping, Alpina-spec suspension, Bilstein dampers, stainless steel exhaust system, engine blueprint and balance, Alpina forged pistons, Alpina brake callipers, ventilated discs, Alpina wheels, a Stowes of Sydney paint job and exterior/interior fit-out with Alpina stickers, badges and decals, including a replica certification plate on the glovebox.

The new owner fell in love when he saw it.  "My wife Gail and I love everything German," Kelly says.  The first car the Californian bought was an American 1955 Fordomatic V8 he paid $300 for when he was 16.  "I outgrew it and went to uni and sold it," he says.

He then owned a Nissan 269Z, followed by an MG TD before he started his German love affair with a Porsche 924 which he took to Germany where he worked for a while.  "A bit silly to buy it in the States and then take it to Germany," he says  "That's when Gail started falling in love with BMWs. She had a 735i."

The couple then moved to Australia where they owned a Toyota Camry, Honda CR-V, then a 2004 BMW X5 4.4-litre V8, a 1981 Porsche 928 auto and a 1984 928 GTS.  They still own the X5 and Porsches and belong to both the BMW and Porsche owner clubs.

She says "German cars are reliable, comfortable and they feel safe."  He says, "I like the styling and power."  She says, "He used to rubbish me because I loved BMWs."

Then he stumbled on the BMW Alpina replica and the friendly family feud over marques ended.  He bought it for $55,000 in December and plans to show it at various concourse events.  "I was looking for the perfect show car and this is it," he says.

"I didn't mind it being a replica.  "It was converted with Alpina's blessing, but they wouldn't give it a genuine coach badge."

So how does it drive?  "Absolutely great," he says.  "It's got herb," she says. "But it's his baby. I don't drive it."  They haven't been driving it much at all lately as they don't take it out in the rain.

"The previous owner never drove it in the rain, either," Barry says.  "I spend a lot of time cleaning it, nourishing the leather, conditioning the trim."  He keeps his baby in his garage under a special tailored cover he had made in the US for $300.  "It fits like a glove," he says.  "And I always keep a chamois in our cars, just in case it rains."