Alpina considered tuning a Mini Hardtop

Alpina considered tuning a Mini Hardtop

It canceled the project for a number of reasons.

BMW tuner Alpina nearly added the original Mini Hardtop (pictured) to its line-up as an entry-level model, the company's chief executive revealed. The project -- which is nearly two decades old as of 2019 -- never made it past the prototype stage.

Alpina made at least one Mini hatchback-based prototype, CEO Andreas Bovensiepen told British magazine Autocar. He wasn't working at the tuner at the time, he spent most of his career at BMW, but he remembered that his dad Burkard, who founded the firm and ran it in the early 2000s, wasn't convinced expanding into Mini territory was the right decision to make.

Bovensiepen pointed out Alpina has tuned BMWs since the early 1960s, but it has never worked on a Mini before; the heritage wasn't there. And, making a hot-rodded small car was expensive, yet it had to keep pricing in check in order to make the model competitive against John Cooper Works-badged variants developed in-house.

Alpina stopped working on the project when BMW announced the second-generation 6 Series internally. Adding the big 6 to the Alpina portfolio made more sense from every perspective. The heritage was there, Alpina put its name on several versions of the original, E24-generation 6 Series, and it could credibly charge more for the model without alienating buyers. The Bovensiepen family has never been overly concerned with volume, so it shelved the Mini project and focused on the 6.

Autocar added Alpina has never again considered making a Mini. It's open to adding more models to its line-up, but it will expand upwards before it moves downmarket.