Yesterday evening we capped off Day 2 on our Los Angeles to Pebble Beach marathon with the guys from BMW North America. The day dawned overcast (as we sort of expected) but by the time we finished breakfast at local favorite Paula’s Pancake House a mere two hours or so later, the cloud cover had burned off and the sun was shining, promising another beautiful day of driving.
Paula’s was incredible. Seeing as how the place is famous even among locals, I had to go for Paula’s pancake special, which consists of Danish-style pancakes, which are flatter than your American buttermilk version and so big they barely fit on the plate. They come covered with powdered sugar, fruit, and whipped cream. I went for the apple-festooned versions, and fellow journo Mike Harley chose strawberries. Holy cow.
After stuffing ourselves silly—that is easily the biggest breakfast I can remember consuming in I don’t know how many years—we walked back to the hotel, loaded up, gassed up, and hit the road.
It just so happened that I jumped out of one Alpina, the V8 Roadster yesterday, and into the other, the 7 Series-based B7, for the first leg of this day’s drive. Like the Roadster, this is a pretty special car, just one of 400 to be built. Along with subtle-yet-functional aerodynamic appendages and lightweight 21-inch wheels wrapped with Michelin PS2 tires, the B7 features a specially tuned version of BMW’s 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 that puts out peaks of 500 hp and a crushing 516 lb-ft of torque. Launching it with full force to 60 mph in a claimed four and a half seconds.
This is easily the fastest car in our caravan. While we debated among ourselves whether or not the Z4 Sdrive 35is could take it off the line (BMW claims the Z4 is two tenths slower to 60 mph), at speed the B7 would simply blow its doors off. And a lot of other cars too. This thing is a classic autobahn stormer. If you happen to look up in your rearviews and see this thing filling them up, it’ll look absolutely menacing. Your knee-jerk reaction is to dive the hell out of the way.
The massaged V8 is hooked to Alpina’s own six-speed Switch-Tronic automatic transmission that’s programmed to offer shift characteristics for any situation. The driver can take matters into his or her own hands using buttons located on the back of the tailored Alpina steering wheel, each shift taking place in a matter of just a few hundred milliseconds.
Midday found us in Morro Bay, where we rolled into town just a few minutes past noon—right on time. Our lunch stop was The Galley Seafood Grill, then it was back on the highway with no time to waste.
Our afternoon diversion was the famous Hearst Castle, the erstwhile estate of the late publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. If you look at the pic of our caravan at the park’s entrance, you can just barely make it out waaayyy the hell up there on the hill just above the gate booth.