BMW recreates the lost 1970s Garmisch concept car

BMW recreates the lost 1970s Garmisch concept car

BMW’s history is awash with design classics, but sometimes it’s the cars that aren’t built that tell more interesting stories. That’s certainly the case of the BMW Garmisch, a concept car created for the 1970 Geneva Motor Show by Marcello Gandini, working for the iconic Italian design house Bertone.

The Garmisch was built on the 2002 platform, BMW’s then popular small two door saloon. Completed in just a few months at Bertone’s studio in Turin – where the body and interior was entirely handmade – the original Garmisch was far ahead of its time, with minimal detailing, sharp-edged lines and an angular abstraction of the BMW double kidney grille. There were other period details, like the passenger side vanity mirror and the honeycomb mesh over the rear window. Named for the German ski resort, it was a bold statement of 70s glamour. And then after the show, the car vanished, presumably into the garage of an obsessive collector, or perhaps broken up for parts or even crushed.

BMW Garmisch dashboard detail view

At this year’s Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este (24–26 May 2019), BMW unveiled an all-new Garmisch, lovingly and carefully rebuilt from the ground up to represent a picture perfect duplicate of Gandini’s original. So why recreate this snapshot of history? BMW isn’t just tapping into the current vogue for 70s era design. For a start, it’s not hard to see elements of modern BMW concepts through the faceted prism of Gandini’s approach, especially last year’s iNEXT electric crossover. More importantly, the much-vaunted all-electric era will call for even more variation in design, especially with regard to customisation.

Could the Garmisch be a hint of what’s in store for well-heeled collectors? It’s certainly a proof of concept, demonstrating the skills and ability of the BMW Group Design studio, working alongside BMW’s Classic department. The 2019 Garmisch is a truly faithful recreation, but it had to be assembled from photographs of the original car, using a new 3D model built by the BMW’s together with input from Marcello Gandini himself. The Italian master, now 80, was personally approached by BMW’s Design Director Adrian van Hooydonk, and the car was ultimately coach-built in Turin, just like the original. Having a firm grip on the past is an essential part of modern brand management and by recreating this lost classic, BMW hope to cement their long-standing image as a proponent of progressive design. §

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