head area: Alpina B12

Though BMW can be satisfied with sales of their cars and the revenues they bring in, there is one thing that displeases them. Despite a surpassing reputation as a manufacturer of highly sophisticated vehicles, their luxurious two door models never went down as well as those of Mercedes Benz. The former 8-series, the indirect predecessor of the Z8, was sold very slow and didn't reach sales numbers that worried the chiefs in Stuttgart.

The new Z8 sells better but the Mercedes bosses don't need to be worried yet, the SL goes in multiple quantities. And the competition gets harder. Especially on the US market. Maserati has recently launched the Spyder to capture the North American market, Aston Martin has introduced a concept car named American Roadster 1 that is aimed exactly at this market too and the new mid-range Lamborghini Gallardo is also conceivable as a roadster.

High time to strong up position for BMW before the new European luxury roadster wave swashes over America. Consequently Alpina's roadster plans for a Z8 based vehicle came right on cue to make the Z8 more popular. On the other hand, that joint venture makes the name Alpina known at the other side of the Atlantic which is to say that the concern is a real mutual advantageous deal.

German motoring magazines pay special attention to the fact that most of the cars are designated to the US and say that the BMW Alpina is right for the Americans because of its automatic transmission. A statement we don't understand. It may be correct that proportion of automatic cars is higher than in Europe but many American lovers of European cars rather shift gears manually. Even tough the BMW Alpina Roadster V8 is not that active sporting car like a 911 Convertible or an AMG SL55, the possibility to be master of the gearbox is fascinating nevertheless - especially for people who love fine cars like the Z8 based roadster, we think.

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