2010 Chicago: 2011 Alpina B7 Sells Itself

Automobile Staff
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Most auto show debuts involve some ridiculous fanfare and don't really allow questions from the audience. Alpina decided to skip the fanfare and give more individual presentations about the car to small groups of journalists at the Chicago show. Aside from the powerful engine, however, are numerous details that Alpina took the time to point out to attending journalists.

One big detail, literally and figuratively, are the 21-inch 20-spoke wheels. Not only are they surprisingly light considering their size (the official weight remains a secret, but the fronts are said to weigh just under 20 lbs and the wider rears just over), but they feature a valve stem that's built into the center hub to improve balance. A duct leads from the valve, which is accessed by removing the locking center cap, to the tire. As a bonus, the location means that checking the pressure won't get your hands dirty and the wheels as a whole look better. Surrounding the wheels are high-performance Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires, with Alpina pointing out that the car isn't under-tired in the name of reliability.

The car's cooling is substantially beefier than that of a standard 7 Series as well. The B7 features the biggest radiator offered on a BMW, an extra oil cooler, transmission cooler, power steering pump cooler, as well as larger-diameter ducting. Another Alpina touch is the steering wheel, which features shift buttons on the back positioned specifically for the driver's middle fingers.

Although the cars are assembled primarily on a BMW conveyor and are 90-percent complete when they roll off the line, the changes that Alpina has to make at its own factory mean that the small operation can build a maximum of five cars per day, with three to four per day being a more reliable volume. Alpina expects total sales volume in all markets to be under 1000 cars a year, with over half being sold in the U.S. It also expects demand to outpace supply, quite an achievement for a car that starts at $122,000 and will receive exactly zero marketing.

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