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CHICAGO – Although it may seem meager, BMW AG is happy having delivered eight Alpina B7s in the U.S. so far.

The ultra-luxurious and fast 7-Series-based Alpina B7 sedan, making 500 hp and rocketing from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 4.8 seconds, is taking its North American bow at the auto show here.

However, the Alpina B7 has been on sale in the U.S. since early January.

U.S. orders for the vehicle exceed 200, Berkay Demircioglu, 6-Series and 7-Series advocate-BMW of North America LLC.

“Every single unit that comes (to the U.S.) is sold, so they drive off the lot as soon as they come in,” he says.

BMW plans to sell only “hundreds” of the Alpina B7 in the U.S., Demircioglu says, not thousands. The car is manufactured by Alpina in Germany.

The Alpina B7, already on sale in Europe, is based on the 750i model, which is 400 lbs. (181 kg) lighter than the more powerful 760Li with its 438-hp V-12 engine.

The 750i was equipped with the old 325-hp 4.4L V-8 at the time development began on the Alpina B7. The current 750i has a more powerful 4.8L V-8.

For the B7, Alpina supercharged the V-8 and coupled it to BMW’s Valvetronic variable intake lift system, a first for a Valvetronic engine, resulting in 500 hp at 5,500 rpm and 516-lb.-ft. (700 Nm) of torque. It has a limited top speed of 186 mph (299 km/h), and torque is electronically limited with the first two gears of the ZF 6-speed automatic with manual mode.

The auto maker says the supercharger used in the B7 provides lag-free response and is relatively quiet. It also produces low exhaust backpressure and has the ability to run the engine at part load, improving fuel economy.

Meanwhile, Alpina strengthened the crankshaft and connecting rods of the V-8, crafted special cylinder-head gaskets, added another belt drive for the supercharger and a centrifugal clutch at the supercharger, which engages at 1,100 rpm.

A totally new exhaust system uses catalytic converters with metallic catalysts vs. less costly ceramic catalysts, and limits noise, as well as backpressure at high power outputs, BMW says.

The B7’s chassis retains the 7-Series’ Active Roll Stabilization, but the springs and shock absorbers have been recalibrated for a firmer feel. Brakes employ the larger discs used in the European 760i.

Wheels are 21 ins., bigger than the ’06 760i’s 20-in. wheels, and have a 20-spoke design.

Exterior design touches for the Alpina B7 include a new bumper and spoiler treatment, high-gloss Shadowline trim on side window framing, special Alpina blue metallic paint and Alpina B7 badging.

The B7’s interior differs from that of the 7-Series, with a unique instrument panel and steering wheel and wheel-mounted buttons for manually shifting the automatic transmission. The engaged gear is displayed on the dash, even when the transmission is in automatic mode, BMW says.

Interior amenities are similar to those on the high-end 760Li with the V-12 engine, including self-closing doors and trunk, heated rear seats and a lifetime subscription to Sirius Satellite Radio service.

The Alpina B7 bases at $115,695, including the $695 destination charge. Various option packages are available, including a $2,200 rear-seat entertainment system.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com