BMW Unveils Recreated Bertone Concept Car at Villa d’Este Almost 50 Years After The Disappearance Of The Original
Every year the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este is host to a stunning selection of beautiful and often priceless automobiles from all eras. Scattered around them are one-off creations and concept cars with fascinating designs and histories. Yet even amongst this remarkable display, the BMW Garmisch classic concept recreation stood out as something rather special, not just for its unique Bertone styled coachwork but also for its role in influencing BMW’s design language. The original Garmisch concept was designed by Marcello Gandini for Bertone but it disappeared soon after its original debut at the 1970 Geneva Motor Show. All that remained to prove it ever existed were a few images and documents.
BMW Group Design and the BMW Classic department used these images and details to piece together enough information to recreate a car that was true to the original, down to the light champagne metallic exterior color that was in fashion at the time. Marcello Gandini himself contributed to the research process and while cutting-edge 3D modeling technologies were used to create the original structures and shapes, the recreated BMW Garmisch was still hand-built by craftsmen in Turin just like the 1970s original.
“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,” says Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President of BMW Group Design, who has been intrigued by the BMW Garmisch since he first discovered a faded period picture of the car some years ago. “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.”
The Garmisch retained many core BMW design elements of the time but Gandini’s aim was to create a mid-sized coupé that was both more dynamic and a little bit provocative. The sleek side profile incorporated sportscar-like louvers on the C-pillars, and the honeycomb-patterned mesh over the rear window glass is pure Gandini and is reflected in the unique kidney grille design too.
Although this car was created in just a few months the interior has also been carefully re-made to mimic the original show car, from the vertical radio mounted in the center console to the elaborate fold-out mirror for the passenger and the flamboyant colors and materials. It was all intended to look very glamorous and impressive. When asked why the concept had been given its rather unusual name Gandini said, “We picked the name Garmisch because skiing was very popular in Italy at that time. It evoked dreams of winter sports and alpine elegance.”
Just like many other Italian show cars of the 1960s and 1970s, the original BMW Garmisch was developed by Bertone as an independent design proposal to demonstrate the studio’s creativity. “The original idea came from Nuccio Bertone himself who wanted to consolidate our existing relationship with BMW by designing a surprise show car for the Geneva Motor Show,” remembers Marcello Gandini, who was in charge of Bertone’s design department at the time. The BMW Garmisch is an archetype of the radical new style that was pioneered by Italian studios such as Bertone, Italdesign and Pininfarina in the late 1960s and early 1970s and as an ambassador of avant-garde design thinking, the Garmisch is also meant to inspire contemporary designers to keep on reimagining the shape of the automobile.
“At the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, we should reflect on the past, but we should also think about where we are going,” said van Hooydonk. “Marcello Gandini’s designs have always been very clear and very clean, but also very dramatic. This is why I find his work so inspiring. He was always able to create something spectacular using very few design elements. This approach of trying to accomplish a lot with less is quite modern still today.”
Images courtesy of BMW