BMW recreates age-old Garmisch concept in spectacular fashion

To honor famed designer Marcello Gandini, BMW has literally recreated the BMW Garmisch concept, which Gandini designed at Bertone for the 1970 Geneva Motor Show. The 80-year-old Gandini, perhaps best known for the Lancia Stratos and Lamborghini Miura, even personally lent a hand with the project, which got its first public showing at this year’s Villa d’Este concours on the shore of Italy’s Lake Como.

The original BMW Garmisch was a speculative, independent design proposal, intended by studio head Nuccio Bertone to strengthen his firm’s relationship with BMW by surprising the Bavarian company with an all-new concept vehicle, based on BMW’s Neue Klasse cars, for the Geneva show that year. The car was named after the Garmisch ski resort, not far from Munich. “We wanted to create a modern mid-sized coupe that was faithful to BMW’s design language, but that was also more dynamic and even a bit provocative,” Gandini said.

The Garmisch had a sleek profile, an “almost angular” version of BMW’s kidney-shaped grille, and Gandini’s signature C-pillar louvers and rear window mesh. The clean, minimalist lines and geometric shapes are an early example of the style language that predominated Italian design houses like Bertone, Italdesign, and Pininfarina in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

After the Geneva show, however, the Garmisch disappeared.

BMW Garmisch steering wheel
BMW Garmisch front

BMW Garmisch designer

Adrian van Hooydonk, BMW’s design head, said he had been intrigued by the Garmisch since first seeing a faded photograph of the concept car.

“Marcello Gandini to me is one of the grandmasters of car design and his cars always have been an important source of inspiration for my work,” said van Hooydonk. “Building the BMW Garmisch for a second time gave us the opportunity to pay tribute to Mr. Gandini, recall one of his lesser-known cars and highlight Bertone’s stylistic influence on the evolution of BMW design. For me, that alone was reason enough to do this project–filling in the gaps and completing BMW’s history.”

Since few of the original drawings and documentation of the Garmisch remained extant at Bertone, a team comprised of members from BMW Group Design and the BMW Classic restoration program had to recreate the car (using a BMW 2002tii as the foundation) from a small number of period photographs, most of them black and white. From the photographs, a digital 3D model of the Garmisch was created, which was used to fabricate a full-scale mockup of the concept that was then refined and fine tuned. Gandini himself assisted the project, remembering unrecorded details, like the exact shade of the metallic champagne paint and the materials used to upholster and trim the interior.

As with the original, craftsmen in Turin coach-built the body.

Marcello Gandini is pleased with the results. “Having seen the final car, it is hard for me to even distinguish it from the original,” he said.

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