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Designer updates a classic BMW


Now... and then, the inspiration and the update | images from davidobendorfer.com
Now… and then, the inspiration and the update | images from davidobendorfer.com

Although this day job is designing Riva yachts, David Obendorfer is intrigued by classic cars, especially those that have become icons of design. What Obendorfer likes to do is to see if he can reinterpret such designs so yesterday’s cars might fit into today’s — and tomorrow’s — driving environment.

Obendorfer’s latest project is the BMW CS Vintage Concept.

(We’re curious to see what you think of Obendorfer’s work and the whole idea of reinterpreting classic designs. After you’ve read this story, use the Comments box below to let us know your thoughts.)

“More than anything else, they are private experiments,” the designer said in an email exchange with classiccars.com. “They are concepts that I make for the simple reason that they intrigue me.”

Obendorfer's ideas are based on Michelotti's
Obendorfer’s ideas are based on Michelotti’s

But, he admitted, there is more to the effort than that.

“I see it as a kind of workout that helps me in my every day work on the yacht projects. I hope to explore interesting crossing points between nautical and automotive design, between past and present.”

Obendorfer is a graduate of the University of Art and Design in Budapest, Hungary. His latest “experiment” — the CS Vintage Concept — is based on the 1965 BMW 2000 CS and the 1968 E9 series, the latter the Karmann-built CS coupe designed by the great Giovanni Michelotti.

A video on Obendorfer’s personal website calls the project, “A tribute to Giovanni Michelotti.”

Same pose, different eras
Same pose, different eras

“Back at the time,” notes Car Body Design, a newsletter for car designers, “Michelotti introduced a new front end with the arrow-shaped nose and twin round headlights in place of the rectangular, and gave the German carmaker an unmistakable identity, still present today on the entire model lineup.

“Based on the platform of the [current] 6 Series, the CS Vintage Concept combines a modern surface treatment with a number of trademark BMW styling cues,” the design newsletter continued. “In addition to the already mentioned arrow-shaped hood and twin headlights, the profile features the typical silhouette with the cabin slightly pushed back, the Hofmeister kink on the side windows and the flanks defined by horizontal character lines.

“Among the distinctive design elements is the front layout, with the kidney grille separated from the headlight fascia, which is visually matched by a horizontal air intake at the bottom.

“The clean surface treatment and the prevalence of horizontal lines give the CS Vintage Concept a rétro look that has its roots in the brand’s recent history.”

Panel in dash hides modern touch screen display
Panel in dash hides modern touch screen display

The newsletter also notes that Obendorfer’s update includes details “inspired by nautical styling solutions,” and that the minimalist interior employs such high-quality materials as wood and hand-stitched leather.”

Obendorfer said, “Technically, almost all the old cars could be reinterpreted.

“The E120 and E9 are beautiful classic coupes. I’ve tried to preserve somewhat of their timeless elegance.”

Michelotti was perhaps the most prolific of all car designers, with some 1,200 of his designs built as one-off or production vehicles. He worked for Farina, Vignale, Bertone and Ghia before opening his own studio. His designs include the Arnolt Bristol, Cunningham C3, Triumph Spitfire, various BMWs, Ferraris, Lancias and Maseratis, and he was the first Italian designer to create cars for the Japanese automakers.

By the way, Obendorfer doesn’t drive a classic or modern BMW. His daily driver is a Fiat 500.

To learn more about the CS Vintage Concept, and to see other examples of Obendorfer’s updates, including Fiat 127 and Renault 4 concepts, visit www.davidobendorfer.com.


Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


  1. As an owner of an E9, I think he has done a beautiful design- especially compared with all the current BMW design. But, I would not trade for a moment for it. The original is still the better design in my personal opinion. However, I’d love to have a new BMW Vintage CS !

  2. fantastic design, beautifully modernized without loosing the classic lines of the CS….Bravo! I will stand in line at my BMW dealer if this is made into reality.

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