We love concept vehicles, we truly do. Unleashed onto web pages and forums by designers, we value the exotic, arresting and at times, crazy approach towards vehicle design that these artists take. Unfortunately however, these concepts often remain as they are, concepts to be admired behind a screen, rarely if ever brought to life.
And so when we see a concept vehicle being brought into reality, it is our responsibility to report on it, especially if it features the work of Mark Atkinson and Mehmet Erdem. Two talented individuals in their own right, Mark and Mehmet formed an unlikely alliance, working together to create the BMW ‘Alpha’- The Mormon machinist from Utah, and the Muslim designer from Istanbul crossing boundaries in order to realise creative excellence.
It all began in 2015, when Mehmet posted his BMW Alpha concept online. Inspired by the great white shark, the Alpha was designed to be ridden on the legendary Bonneville Salt Flats. The great white shark connection is blindingly obvious from the front end of the Alpha. Like the body of the shark, the Alpha looks clean and perfect from the front. But just as the shark derives its power from its tail, the back of the Alpha is powerful and ugly, symbolising the beast within.
Word began spreading of Mehmet’s amazing design, and bike builder Mark the ‘Makr’ Atkinson was soon a fan, he himself a racer on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Growing increasingly obsessed with the Alpha, Mark soon resolved to bring it to life, turning it into a fully functioning motorcycle. Built on the carcass of a wrecked BMW K75, Mark began the construction of a chassis that properly respected the original design, working up to five hours on top of his original twelve hour jobs in order to complete the job.
His process is methodical rather than ‘big picture.’ “I let the problems surface and then work through them, one at a time. The whole picture is too much. I plan the total as an abstract distant goal but focus on each individual component. As I go, I design parts and pieces.”
Along the way, Mark managed to get Mehmet on board with the concept, and together, they worked and reworked the design over a period of 16 months. The end result? Stunningly glorious. Featuring everything from headlights to turn signals and a horn, the Alpha is likely to be street legal, albeit un-user-friendly. On its first firing up, Mark described it to idle just as a BMW should.
“Over the course of building Alpha I have learned a lot and have made new friends,” says Mark. “But is it my greatest achievement? Naw. Building an engine from scratch and setting a land speed record the first time running would be—but Alpha is a very close second.”