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Design Thoughts: The BMW Alpha Concept

The BMW Alpha is a rather interesting amalgamation of brilliant high tech conceptual design, old school manufacturing with vintage guts, and a blatant disregard for actual usability. It’s fantastic.

Currently on display at the Petersen, the BMW Alpha is the brainchild of Mehmet Doruk Erdem and sorta-but-also Mark Atkinson…and BMW if we’re crediting where the guts came from. Originally a purely computer-aided  design study with no real plans for production, Erdem’s design was all the rage on the internets back in 2016. It caught the eye of Mark Atkinson who in turn made it a reality.

The thing is, when it comes to riding it, well, it’s terrible. Atkinson refers to it as a lakebed racer (think: El Mirage in California, or Bonneville in Utah near Atkinson) but videos on the internet (if you can sift through all the cats) show that this thing is probably even too low to the ground to perform its intended purpose.BMW alpha

Intent is a loose term here though. I suppose its true intent was design for the sake of design, which effectively puts it into the realm of art. Some feel that art’s only purpose is to exist and to have no other function…than itself and I think that describes this perfectly. It’s ridiculously overpowered, totally unstable, and probably quite delicate. It’s meant to be parked and admired. It’s art.

BMW alpha One thing that’s interesting to notice is that, under scrutiny, the signature ‘twin-kidney’ radiator grille that defines all BMWs (apart from the roundel) is rather asymmetrical, likely hand formed and quickly at that. The odd thing about that is that a 3D printer was used for much of the fabrication, so I’m puzzled as to how that one important element wound up with a human touch.

BMW alpha

Keep in mind that if you aren’t looking closely, you won’t notice this on what is otherwise an exquisite object to behold. I really wish it was truly ride-able though. Perhaps beneath that massive faring (when lie BMW K75 guts), there might be room for a compact compressor to add an air suspension of sorts, because this thing is way too cool to sit parked in museums and at shows forever. It needs to be ridden. Photos are also available in the hi-res Gallery. Thanks for taking a look.
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