The Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este will once again host a world premiere in 2012 and, in so doing, build on its tradition as a gathering of the industry’s leading coachbuilders. The premiere in question will see the time-honoured Milanese coachbuilder Zagato team up with BMW to unveil the result of a unique collaboration: the BMW Zagato Coupé.
Zagato has worked in close collaboration to create an “exciting and emotionally charged coupé in the finest tradition of automotive workmanship.” This one-off model is the product of many hours of skilled hand-craftsmanship and breathes new life into the tradition of coachbuilding.
The vehicles shown on the banks of Lake Como for the Concorso d‘Eleganza Villa d’Este are hand-picked, the number of entrants limited and the surroundings simply without comparison. The Concorso began as a get-together of coachbuilders presenting one-off hand-built creations.
The two partners settled on a realistic and applied approach to the development of the BMW Zagato Coupé. “Zagato has always provided its customers with ready-to-drive cars which can be sent into action on the road or race track without further ado – and the BMW Zagato Coupé fits the same template,” says Dr Andrea Zagato, who represents the third generation of his family to sit at the helm of the company. To this end, the car is registered for road use and meets all the legal requirements worldwide. “It is relatively easy to build a design study which is not intended for use on the road. Not having to meet any stipulations governing crash safety or pedestrian protection opens up a host of new avenues in terms of design,” he adds. “The challenge lies in injecting the emotional appeal of a concept car into a road-legal machine. And we think we have succeeded in doing just that with the BMW Zagato Coupé.” Indeed, the new creation has already cut a “bella figura” at high speeds during testing on the BMW test track.
Zagato chief designer Norihiko Harada and van Hooydonk have been friends for many years, so when Andrea Zagato proposed a collaboration, it wasn’t long before the decision was made to build a car at Zagato that embodies the two companies’ passion for cars.
In 1939, the first BMWs sporting tailor made Italian metalwork was a coupé based on the BMW 328 for the upcoming race season and specifically for the Mille Miglia (where it triumphed in 1940), BMW was back to Milan in 1954 to buy from Renzo Rivolta, founder of ISO, drawings, license and tooling necessary for the production of the legendary Isetta.
Almost sixty years later BMW had the opportunity to re-establish a connection with the Rivolta family. As a matter of fact Marella Rivolta, wife of Andrea Zagato, is Zagato Art Director and responsible of BMW Coupé Zagato trim and colours.
The hands of Italian designers were also responsible for the eye-catching looks of the BMW 3200 Michelotti Vignale (1959), BMW 700 (1959), BMW 3200 CS Bertone (1962) and BMW M1 (1978) – all of which retain the status of design icons to this day.
The body of the BMW Zagato Coupé has been built entirely by hand. As in the past, the new skin was tailored to fit the car’s mechanical architecture, tracing its lines yet giving it space to breathe. The Zagato experts spent many hours crafting the aluminium sheet metal by hand and meticulously moulding it to give the car its unique form.
The brief for the car was clear from the outset: the BMW Zagato Coupé was to be a “Vmax concept”, a road-registered, aerodynamically optimised machine capable of achieving high speeds yet at the same time meeting all legal requirements and crash-related stipulations – a car that is ready and eager to be driven.