BMW unveils re-creation of Gandini’s Garmisch concept car

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Adrian van Hooydonk and Marcello Gandini examine the re-creation of Gandini's 1970 BMW Garmisch concept car before its unveiling this past weekend | BMW photos

In 1970, Marcello Gandini of Bertone designed the BMW Garmisch concept car to be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show. At the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este this past weekend, BMW unveiled a re-creation of that 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,” BMW senior vice president of group design Adrian van Hooydonk said. 

“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.”

According to a BMW news release, van Hooydonk became intrigued by the Garmisch concept after discovering a faded period photograph of the car several years ago.

Re-created concept goes for an Alpine test drive

“Since the early days of the brand, BMW has been inspired and influenced by Italian design and coachbuilding culture,” the company said. “From the lightweight aluminum BMW 328 Mille Miglia created at Carrozzeria Touring in the late 1930s to the wedge-shaped BMW M1 designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, there has always been a vital exchange of concepts and ideas across the Alps. 

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“And 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 intended 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,” said Gandini, 80, when asked recently about the concept by BMW.

Concept’s profile was much sleeker than was typical of BMW in 1970
Design details: Mesh over rear window and air vents built into the C pillars

“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.” 

The car featured a sleek and clean profile with an almost angular version of the BMW kidney-shaped grille, flanked by square glass headlamps. The car also had louvers on the C-pillars and a honeycomb mesh over the rear window.

Inside, the car had a vertical radio on the center console, a fold-out mirror on the passenger’s side and a mix of colors and materials termed “flamboyant (with) an elegant Piemontese twist.”

“We picked the name Garmisch because skiing was very popular in Italy at that time,” Gandini added. “It evoked dreams of winter sports and alpine elegance.”

Gandini and von Hooydonk look at the details of the re-created concept car

With only a few period photographs and Gandini’s memory as the basis for the re-creation, BMW’s design and classic departments were challenged.

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“When I first heard that BMW wanted to re-create the BMW Garmisch, I was a bit surprised,” said Gandini, who was visited at his home in Turin by von Hooydonk in the summer of 2018. “Now I am very pleased that I was able to be part of this project and happy that BMW chose to recall this enjoyable past. Having seen the final car, it is hard for me to even distinguish it from the original.”

“Marcello Gandini’s designs have always been very clear and very clean, but also very dramatic,” said von Hooydonk. “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.”

Vertically positioned radio and large passenger-side mirror are among the interior details recreated nearly 50 years later


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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 books. In addition to being Editorial Director at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times, writes a weekly automotive feature for The Detroit News and is an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Um-
    a) Please learn to spell before spew.
    b) Design language of the ’80’s (ya didn’t notice?). Put on yer Pet Shop Boys, Wham!, and Lisa Lisa. Lens of time, eh?

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