But the smaller, less expensive models will remain forbidden fruit.
We recently spotted what looked like an Alpina X7 testing on the Nurburgring. So when we had the opportunity to sit down with Alpina's owner, Andreas Bovensiepen at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, we asked him about this potential model. "Indeed we are looking, the CEO admitted. "Generally speaking, SUVs are more and more in trend and we are currently investigating with BMW of North America whether it makes sense to have a huge SUV model from Alpina."
Alpina already builds its own versions of the X3 and X4 but neither are sold in the US. We asked Mr. Bovensiepen which markets the X7 would be sold in and he said, "the most important market would be the US."
We initially expected Alpina's X7 to be sold with a diesel engine under the name 'XD7' but if it were to be sold in the US, the SUV would likely use the same 600 horsepower 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 from the B7 with the name 'XB7.'
The arrival of an XB7 in America would be big news because the US market has always been limited with Alpina models. In addition to the X3 and X4, Alpina currently builds versions of the 3 Series, 4 Series, and 5 Series, none of which are sold in the US. Bovensiepen says the reason why only the big, expensive Alpina-badged BMWs make it to the US has to do with exchange rates.
"Basically, the dollar was always quite weak to the euro. American cars typically have high standard equipment and it would be hard for us to sell a 3 Series or 4 Series and make money on it," he explained.
Don't expect Alpina to bring over any of its smaller models to the US any time soon. Even though the Alpina XD3 and XD4 are actually built in the US at BMW's Spartanburg plant, they are only sold with diesel engines and "in the US, diesel is not successful," Bovensiepen said. "It doesn't make sense to have these cars in the market."
With Alpina cars being quite rare in the US, we asked if any of them could turn into future collector's items. Bovensiepen quickly pointed out the Alpina V8 Roadster, which was based on the Z8. "450 got sold in the US and nowadays is sold for more than $350,000 and new it was about $135,000."
He also mentioned the E36 generation Alpina B8. "We had the first V8 in a 3 Series in 1995. It was a 4.6-liter with a six-speed manual transmission. This would be a perfect car [to import] for the US market."
With the US's 25-year import restriction, this is a car you can think about importing next year. Alpina also revealed a limited edition, 99-unit run 4 Series Coupe at Geneva, which is sure to appreciate in value.
Alpina has a long and storied model history, much of which the US was never able to experience first hand. "In the middle of the '90s, Alpina was quite small. My father always had a credo - I'd like to do 500 cars for the world and why should we sell cars in America? With their 55 mph speed limit, they can not enjoy our cars there," Bovensiepen explained.
Even without a large presence in the US, Alpina has made a name for itself by building what we think are the most desirable BMW models on the planet. Part of their desirability stems from Alpina's signature 19-spoke wheels, which have evolved over the years while remaining easily recognizable. "Our design is always form follows function. If you look in Formula 1 or DTM, you'll always find that the lightest wheels are 16 to 19-spokes," Bovensiepen explained. So if you've ever wondered why Alpina wheels are so dang attractive, that should answer your question.