Alpine has done it again. Every year, Alpine rolls out a new, over-the-top custom car, truck, or SUV at its display at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. These projects were designed and built at Alpine's headquarters in Torrance, California, by the company's in-house Advanced Application R&D team, which is currently: Steve Brown, Gary Bell, Brent Davison, and Glen Swackhamer from Alpine of Canada. The '06 show saw the unveiling of the team's Imprint RLS, a jaw-dropping customized Mercedes-Benz R500 SUV.

The purpose of the Imprint RLS was to showcase Alpine's Imprint sound processing technology, which was designed to bring out the original studio-quality sound of a musical recording and improve the staging and imaging of the music-regardless of the vehicle; which we discussed in "Trucktonics" in our Volume 33, Issue 7 magazine. This SUV had been modified to the same stratospheric levels as previous Alpine concepts, regardless of the product having been highlighted therein. So, let's talk about what was done.

The interior of the vehicle embraces the driver in waves of tan and brown that splash through the vehicle's cabin. Everything here is far, far from factory. Starting with the experience of getting into the vehicle, the R-class' four doors were replaced by a two-door configuration, with each door integrated with the seats so the doors rotate open, turning the seats outward, and then the combination rotates closed again. Alpine vehicles have long featured center-line cockpits, because it creates the opportunity to create visually stunning interiors that foster excellent audio acoustics for the driver. Nothing has changed in the case of the Imprint RLS, except for the fact that there are two seats instead of the usual one. Someone sitting in either seat can still operate the vehicle by using the driving controls on the center console. The big Mercedes-Benz emblem between the seats is actually an aluminum and leather steering wheel. In front of that, the transmission's shifter, and both the gas and brake pedals protrude from the floors of both footwells. At the front of the console is an audacious array of Auto Meter analog gauges that circle a clock bearing the Imprint logo.

Do you see the Mercedes-Benz emblem on the back of the vehicle? That's the amp rack. Well, part of it, anyway. In fact, it's the end cap for a motorized cylinder that extends outward 27 inches from the rear and rotates to reveal all of the amplifiers arrayed around it.