The Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este hosted a spectacular world premiere in 2012 with the introduction of the BMW Zagato Coupé, the result of a collaboration between BMW and Zagato, the world-famous Milanese coachbuilder and winner of the prestigious Concorso d’Eleganza Design Award in both 2010 and 2011.
BMW and Zagato say they designed the hand-built BMW Zagato Coupé to highlight the fascination of the automobile with a fusion of the design DNA of the two companies. The venue for its debut is very appropriate as the Concorso d’Eleganza began as a show where coachbuilders presented their latest hand-built creations.
The BMW Zagato Coupé is a fully functional and drivable car based on the BMW Z4 roadster. It is registered, meets all legal requirements worldwide and has shown its capabilities at high speeds on the BMW test track.
“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 93-year-old company.
“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.”
The partnership, which was proposed by Andrea Zagato, was a natural: Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice-President BMW Group Design, and Zagato are fans of each other’s work. Beyond that, van Hooydonk and Zagato chief designer Norihiko Harada have been friends for many years.
“Working with Zagato was a fantastic experience. It was extremely enriching for us to create something with people who share our understanding of good design and passion for cars,” explains Karim Habib, Head of Design BMW Automobiles. “And that is what makes the car so special – the open and constructive dialogue with Zagato, their experience, craftsmanship and incomparable sense for forms. All of these gifts are wrapped up in the BMW Zagato Coupé.”
The body of the BMW Zagato Coupé, with its classic long hood and Kamm tail, promises performance. Zagato designer Harada said, “For me, the BMW Zagato Coupé holds a very special magic. It exudes a certain spontaneity which, when combined with the type of unconventional solutions typical of Zagato, lend the car a very individual elegance.”
A very distinctive touch is the trademark BMW kidney grille, which is filled with a meshwork of chrome Zagato Zs.
The paintwork is a story all by itself. Zagato began with a black base coat, followed by a coat of metallic silver, six coats of Rosso Vivace red and topped off with two layers of clear coat to seal the finish. Depending on the lighting, the color varies from nearly black to a brilliant red.
BMW and Zagato have posted a seven-minute video about the Zagato Coupé on YouTube. Watching the Zagato craftsmen making the body is amazing.
While the BMW Zagato Coupé is strictly a one-off exercise, a close copy could be offered: perhaps as a limited-edition model. The platform is already there, it would be a matter of adapting the hand-formed contours of the show car so they can be produced in quantity, hopefully without running the price into the six figures. The fact that BMW specifically said the car met worldwide legal requirements leaves the door open for U.S. sales. Stretching things a bit on no basis whatsoever, the Zagato Coupé could even be a replacement for the current Z4, which could use a fresh injection of excitement.