If there’s something about Japan that has always surprised me, it’s the immense popularity of Alpina.
I guess it goes hand-in-hand with the need that Japanese people have to stand out from the crowd and make a statement. BMW make good cars, but the German manufacturer also sells quite of lot of them in Japan, so even if you do fork out the big bucks for an M machine, it’s a given that many other people will do, or have done the same. Alpina, however, slaps an added dimension of exclusivity onto your average BMW; a fine mix of performance and luxury presented in an instantly recognisable package. There’s the pin-striping, the finned wheel design, the sedate trunk spoiler, the quad tail pipes, all topped off with that metallic blue or green hue which sets these Bavarian beasts apart from run-of-the-mill Beemers.
I came across one last night as I was passing through Shinjuku; the previous generation B7 Bi-Turbo looked so imposing, I just had to stop and take a quick picture. It may not make much sense, but it’s cars like these that define Japan’s car culture just as much as a drift car at Nikko or a time attack machine at Tsukuba.
Dino Dalle Carbonare