BMW Garmisch, the Rebirth of an Iconic Concept Car

BMW Garmisch 2019 21 photos
Photo: BMW Group
BMW 2800 Frua at BMW WeltMarcello Gandini and Adrian van HooydonkRebirth of the iconic BMW GarmischRebirth of the iconic BMW GarmischRebirth of the iconic BMW GarmischRebirth of the iconic BMW GarmischRebirth of the iconic BMW GarmischRebirth of the iconic BMW GarmischRebirth of the iconic BMW GarmischRebirth of the iconic BMW GarmischRebirth of the iconic BMW GarmischRebirth of the iconic BMW GarmischRebirth of the iconic BMW GarmischAdrian van Hooydonk and Marcello GandiniRebirth of the iconic BMW GarmischRebirth of the iconic BMW GarmischRebirth of the iconic BMW GarmischRebirth of the iconic BMW GarmischRebirth of the iconic BMW GarmischRebirth of the iconic BMW Garmisch
Almost five decades after its official presentation, the Garmisch was unveiled again, but this time as a recreation made by the carmaker's design studio. It was an ambitious plan led by Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President of BMW Group Design.
Usually, concept cars are held in storage by carmakers and, sometimes, they appear on public display or at auctions. Yet, this particular prototype just disappeared from radars a long time ago.

Bertone tried to get a better connection with BMW in 1970, and produced a prototype based on a BMW platform. It did follow some of the lines used on other BMW models from that era, but differently. The man in charge of the project was Marcello Gandini, the Design Studio Director of the Bertone Stile studios in Turin for 15 years. But not even him recalls what happened to the original car.

Adrian van Hooydonk says "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." After seeing a faded picture of the original car, he decided to recreate the vehicle. But that was not an easy task. Yet, the entire design department was excited to work with the famous Italian designer.

In 2018, Adrian van Hooydonk visited Marcello Gandini in Turin and asked for his permission to remake the Garmish. It was an unusual request, but the Italian design master not only agreed, but also helped as much as he could, from choosing the right materials and colors to assisting in designing and tracing the lines of the original vehicle. The end result was so close to the original version that even Gandini couldn't tell the difference. Since there is no original model, we have to take his word for granted. After all, he penned the car.

Rebirth of the iconic BMW Garmisch
Photo: BMW Group
"The original idea for the BMW Garmisch came from Nuccio Bertone himself, who wanted to consolidate his existing relationship with BMW by designing a surprise show car for the Geneva Motor Show," said Marcello Gandini. "We wanted to create a modern mid-sized coupe that was faithful to BMW's design language, but that was also more futuristic and even a bit provocative."

BMW's design team started with only a few pictures of the original car, no sketches, no drawings, no nothing. But the team had valuable help from Mr. Gandini himself, who jumped in and helped re-create the Garmisch. They rebuilt the car based on a running chassis of a BMW 2002. The original version was based on a 2002 tii platform. Also, the new vehicle was designed and built with the help of new technologies that involved 3D printing and computer-aided design (CAD).

The Garmish featured a stylized shape for the kidney-grille at the front, with angular shapes instead of rounded ones. In addition, it was flanked by glass-covered headlights, a feature which was already used by the four-door sedan 2000 tii. Unlike that one, though, it featured corner-mounted turn-signals with an angled-down shape.

Gandini added functional louvers on the C-pillars, which was something often seen on sports cars. But the car was a regular coupe. The sloped trunk was later carried over on the 3-, 5-, 6-, and 7-Series. Just like other sports cars from that era, the rear window featured a honeycomb mesh cover. That idea was carried over from the Lamborghini Marzal concept car, also designed by Gandini. For the re-creation model, the design team 3D printed it.

Rebirth of the iconic BMW Garmisch
Photo: BMW Group
Unlike many other concept cars, which are rushed for shows, the 2019 Garmisch featured a complete interior. Here, the designers benefited from Gandini's memory regarding the materials and colors used for the upholstery. It was a flamboyant mix of 1970s cream colors and fashion materials from that era. The dashboard featured a narrow center stack with the radio mounted vertically below the ventilation controls. An unusual feature for those times was the pull-out glovebox in front of the passenger and an oversized mirror suitable for fixing makeup.

Choosing the name was a difficult task for the Bertone studio in the '70s, but they took inspiration from a famous German ski resort. "We picked the name Garmisch because skiing was very popular in Italy at that time. It evoked dreams of winter sports and alpine elegance." Thus, it made a clear connection with the targeted customers for such a luxurious coupe. Eventually, in 1977, BMW introduced the 6-Series, a car that showed a few shapes carried over from the Garmisch.

The re-made car was driven at the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este by Adrian van Hooydonk accompanied by Marcello Gandini. Currently, the Garmisch is showcased at the BMW Welt in Munchen in the Tempi Italiani exhibition alongside the BMW 2800 GTS Coupe Frua, a car that deserves another story, for another time.
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About the author: Tudor Serban
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Tudor started his automotive career in 1996, writing for a magazine while working on his journalism degree. From Pikes Peaks to the Moroccan desert to the Laguna Seca, he's seen and done it all.
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