(from BMW Press
Release) The BMW Zagato Coupé.
Cernobbio. The Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este will once again host
a spectacular world premiere in 2012 and, in so doing, build on its
tradition as a gathering of the industry’s leading coachbuilders.
The premiere in question will see the time-honoured Milanese
coachbuilder Zagato team up with BMW to unveil the result of a
unique collaboration: the BMW Zagato Coupé.
Zagato has worked in close collaboration to create an exciting and
emotionally charged coupé in the finest tradition of automotive
workmanship. The BMW Zagato Coupé embodies the unbridled fascination
of cars and fuses the design DNA of the two companies into a fresh
and desinctive whole. This one-off model is the product of many
hours of skilled hand-craftsmanship and breathes new life into the
tradition of coachbuilding.
It is hard to think of a better occasion for the premiere than the
Concorso d‘Eleganza Villa d’Este, one of the most exclusive events
in the world of classic cars and motorcycles. The vehicles shown on
the banks of Lake Como are hand-picked, the number of entrants
limited and the surroundings simply without comparison. The Concorso
began as a get-together of coachbuilders presenting one-off
hand-built creations, and the BMW Zagato Coupé follows very much in
Made for the road.
The two partners settled
on a realistic and applied approach to the development of the BMW
Zagato Coupé. “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 company. To this
end, the car is registered for road use and meets all the legal
requirements worldwide. “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.” Indeed, the new creation has
already cut a “bella figura” at high speeds during testing on the
BMW test track.
Both partners can look back on a rich heritage, sharing as they do a
passion for cars that stretches back over 80 years. Added to which,
Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice-President BMW Group Design, and
Andrea Zagato are long-time appreciators of each other’s work;
indeed, Zagato took home the prestigious Concorso d’Eleganza Design
Award in both 2010 and 2011. However, this collaboration is about
more than mutual respect.
Zagato chief designer Norihiko Harada and van Hooydonk have been
friends for many years, so when Andrea Zagato proposed a
collaboration, it wasn’t long before the decision was made to build
a car at Zagato that embodies the two companies’ passion for cars.
BMW and the Italian design.
After sawing in 1939 the
creation of the first BMWs sporting tailor made Italian metalwork, a
coupé based on the BMW 328 for the upcoming race season and
specifically for the Mille Miglia (where it triumphed in 1940), BMW
was back to Milan in 1954 to buy from Renzo Rivolta, founder of ISO,
drawings, license and tooling necessary for the production of the
Almost sixty years later BMW had the opportunity to re-establish a
connection with the Rivolta family. As a matter of fact Marella
Rivolta, wife of Andrea Zagato, is Zagato Art Director and
responsible of BMW Coupé Zagato trim and colours.
The hands of Italian designers were also responsible for the
eye-catching looks of the BMW 3200 Michelotti Vignale (1959), BMW
700 (1959), BMW 3200 CS Bertone (1962) and BMW M1 (1978) – all of
which retain the status of design icons to this day.
The BMW Zagato Coupé heralds a new chapter in the tradition of
cooperation between BMW and Italian designers. Much has changed
since those earlier collaborations, however, with the advent of new
working methods such as digital sketching, Photoshop and CAD/CAS
tools opening the door to an entirely new way of working. Despite
these advances in the design tools available, the human touch is
still essential to the process. “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 has been built entirely by hand. As
in the past, the new skin was tailored to fit the car’s mechanical
architecture, tracing its lines yet giving it space to breathe. The
Zagato experts spent many hours crafting the aluminium sheet metal
by hand and meticulously moulding it to give the car its unique
The design – a BMW seen through
the eyes of Zagato.
The BMW Zagato Coupé is
a collaboration between auto enthusiasts – a BMW seen through the
eyes of Zagato. This comes through in the design of the car,
hallmark design cues from both companies merging to form an
emotion-laden coupé in the best Zagato tradition. The brief for the
car was clear from the outset: the BMW Zagato Coupé was to be a
“Vmax concept”, a road-registered, aerodynamically optimised machine
capable of achieving high speeds yet at the same time meeting all
legal requirements and crash-related stipulations – a car that is
ready and eager to be driven.
The proportions of the BMW Zagato Coupé alone exude the promise of a
very special driving experience. The extremely long bonnet,
greenhouse set well back and double bubble roof and Kamm Tail sum up
the dynamic focus of the car as only a coupé could. The flowing
roofline melts away into the compact, muscular rear, where the car’s
power is transferred to the road. This sculptural and visually
striking surface treatment is a Zagato hallmark and lends the BMW
Zagato Coupé a distinctive and instantly recognisable personality.
The surface treatment, on the other hand, is clearly inspired by
BMW. The car’s dynamic silhouette sees precise lines forging a path
over taut surfaces towards the rear. Surfaces moulded with
eye-catching depth underline the sporting statement of the BMW
Zagato Coupé. “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,” says Zagato chief designer Norihiko
A striking front end.
The BMW Zagato Coupé is
extremely three-dimensional, very wide and powerfully contoured at
the front. The dynamically forward-surging front end dips down
prominently towards the road and gives the car an agile sense of
purpose, as if in mid-leap. A stunning interpretation of the classic
BMW face – with its twin circular headlights, kidney-shaped radiator
grille and BMW logo – marks the BMW Zagato Coupé out as a BMW
without the need for a second glance. These extremely low, width-emphasising
elements lend the front end an undeniably sporty appearance.
The contoured bonnet builds on this dynamic flair with its sweeping
lines and taut surfaces. A pair of air intakes integrated into the
bonnet send extra supplies of air into the engine compartment and
highlight the presence of the high-performance engine beneath. The
contours of the bonnet are picked up by the double-bubble roof as
the lines of the body continue on to the rear of the car. These two
domes built into the structure of the roof are a signature feature
of Zagato design and reduce the front area. As well as providing
greater headroom when wearing a helmet on the track, the double
bubble (“doppia gobba”) roof also enhances the car’s aerodynamics
and increases the roof’s torsional rigidity. The roof of almost
every Zagato features this design.
Looking further down below the bonnet, the headlights of the BMW
Zagato Coupé focus purposefully on the road ahead, and accentuate
the car’s driver-oriented character and high-speed potential. Low
down between the headlights is Zagato’s take on the BMW radiator
grille, with matt kidney frames inspired by Buckmister Fuller
geodetic structures A stand-out detail here is the use of countless
small matt Zagato “z” letters to make up the kidney grille. Viewed
from the front, the “z” letters appear to be floating within the
kidneys. Close-up, it is clear that they are set against a
collection of other dark-coloured “z”s positioned into octagons.
Gleaming chrome “z”s are used only on the visible side of the
octagons. This arrangement injects added depth into the kidney
grating and gives the front end an extra touch of class.
The design of the front apron steers the eye to the wheels and the
car’s broad stance. Large air intakes add low-set finishing touches
to the car’s nose, their dynamic form and size hinting at the power
of the engine under the bonnet.
Dynamic, powerful flanks.
From the side, the BMW
Zagato Coupé displays the pared down, clearly defined distribution
of visual mass for which Zagato is renowned, blended with the
familiar surface treatment and design language of a BMW. Its coupé
design also necessitated a new roofline, which highlights the car’s
potential with impressive fluidity and dynamic élan.
The long, sweeping bonnet sends the greenhouse a long way back
towards the rear and the car’s visual focus is therefore also pulled
rearwards, in traditional Zagato 2 seater style. The rear end itself
is cut almost vertically in another Zagato cue, which enhances
aerodynamics. The flanks, meanwhile, adopt the classical BMW
Roadster lines, imbues them with extra tautness and extends them
into the muscular rear end with a compelling swing of the hips. The
attractive interplay of lines here draws attention to the rear
wheels and the car’s rear-wheel-drive configuration. The powerful
flourish above the rear wheels is picked up and passed on by the
spoiler, injecting the whole area with additional dynamic impetus.
The side air vents reference the form of the bonnet intakes and
extend their dynamic agenda to the car’s flanks. Below the side
vents, the silver “z” provides another nod to the cooperation
between BMW and Zagato.
Slightly offset behind the silver “z”, a matching indentation
provides greater depth and three-dimensionality. The two “z”s in the
air intakes and BMW badges are the only gleaming chrome elements on
the BMW Zagato Coupé.
Another characteristic Zagato design theme is the specially designed
“criss-cross” transition from the side windows into the rear window.
The lower section of the side window surrounds slants dramatically
upwards just ahead of the rear end and extends to form the upper
border of the rear window. In so doing, this hallmark design element
links the sides and rear via the C-pillar and ensures a harmonious
connection between the different sections of the car. This aspect of
the BMW Zagato Coupé design is particularly striking when viewed
A common heritage
Both BMW and Zagato are
famous for getting the same inspiration from Professor Kamm’s
studies on aerodynamic rear end. The 1940 BMW 328 Kamm Coupé as well
as the Alfa SZ and TZ boosted a typical Kamm-tail (K-tail) layout.
This solution became famous in Italy with the name “Coda Tronca”
bodies which were tested by Zagato in the beginning of the 60s.
Kamm Effect is part of the functional design approach that aims to
the aerodynamic efficiency. According to this, the CX can be lowered
by keeping compact volumes at the same time. The reduction of the
wind resistance is assured with the Kamm Tail design, without any
need of a very stretched “drop” shape of the tail.
BMW Zagato Coupé doesn’t need the support of any fix or mobile rear
wing since the aerodynamic of its tail is already very efficient.
A muscular rear end.
The distinctive rear end
provides the clearest evidence of Zagato’s influence. Formed almost
without a single joint, the rear end cuts a classy figure, appearing
as if formed from a single mould. Nothing interrupts the flow of
surfaces and the powerful sculpture of the rear. At the same time,
this also provides evidence of the high degree of hand-craftsmanship
involved in making the car and Zagato’s experience in the
manipulation of surfaces and forms, channelled into the car’s design
at the company’s studio.
Taken as a whole, the rear of the BMW Zagato Coupé has a very broad,
low-slung appearance, its powerful, solid form and purposeful design
language giving the car a planted stance on the road.
The most distinctive feature of the rear end is the transparent
panel in its upper section familiar from other Zagato creations.
Divided visually into three sections, the generous glass surfaces
open up a line of sight to the lights and into the interior. Their
dark tint gives the BMW Zagato Coupé an even sportier look. A curved
bar featuring the Zagato trademark splits the surface into sections
and gives the car a greater impression of width. The likewise tinted
rear window can be opened, offering access to the rear luggage
A prominent rear bumper feeds downwards into a large diffuser. The
diffuser extends well out to the sides, providing an effective
contrast to the bar dividing the glass and lending the rear an
extremely broad and sporty presence in the process. Matt edging
accentuates the form of the diffuser, draws the focus to the wheels
and underlines the planted stance of the BMW Zagato Coupé. The
exhaust tailpipes, positioned towards the outer edges of the rear,
add further emphasis, their matt finish contributing another stylish
flourish to the rear.
Highlights and details.
The unique character of
the BMW Zagato Coupé is reflected in even smaller details. The
19-inch light-alloy wheels in classically sporty five-spoke design
have a hint of propeller about them, offering a subtle nod to the
origins of both companies. Indeed, both BMW and Zagato founder Ugo
Zagato took an airborne route into automotive construction. Their
subtly attractive matt finish lends the car extra allure from the
A very special highlight of the BMW Zagato Coupé is its paintwork.
The exclusive exterior paint finish Rosso Vivace – an expressive
shade of red – brings the surfaces and forms of the BMW Zagato Coupé
to life. Depending on how the light hits the body, the colour
spectrum ranges from something close to black all the way to a
brilliant red. This remarkable depth and radiance is possible thanks
to sophisticated paint application technology. The primer coat –
made up of a black application, followed by a layer of shimmering
metallic silver – is applied first. Then come six ultra-thin coats
of the exclusively developed red shade to deliver this unique
effect. Finally, two layers of clear coat seal in the colour.
Exquisite touches in the interior.
The interior is clearly
structured, in customary BMW style, and invites the keen driver to
take the helm. This character was picked up by the Zagato designers
and given further emphasis by an exclusive colour and materials
concept. Exquisite materials and high-quality details provide an
extremely stylish showcase for the interior’s sporting flair and
Additional elements fitted by hand, such as horizontal lines in the
instrument panel and doors, heighten the interior’s sense of
sporting elegance. The lines culminate in a dynamic upward curve for
extra sporting effect. The base colours for the exclusive leather
trim are a light and dark shade of grey. Together, they underline
the horizontal geometry of the interior, while red decorative
stitching in the instrument panel, doors and seats brings the colour
of the body into the interior and adds extra sporting touches. A “z”
embroidered into the seats is the clearest reference in the interior
to the origins of the BMW Zagato Coupé.
The “horizontal line” design theme has also found its way into the
luggage compartment, as have the two shades of grey and the red
accents. Here, the lines are a subtle reference to the form of the
double-bubble roof. Two exclusive accessories – a hat bag and a
travel bag – set the seal on Zagato’s colour and materials upgrade.
The travel bag also recreates the form of the double-bubble roof and
is designed to maintain its bulbous lines even when empty.
Zagato – a coachbuilder with a
Founded by Ugo Zagato in
1919, today Zagato is the only automotive body manufacturer still in
independent ownership. From its earliest days, Zagato has taken a
minimalist and pared-down approach to its creations, very much in
keeping with the Milanese tradition of design. Volumes takes
precedence over details, thanks in part to technical considerations.
Body designer Ugo Zagato learned his trade in – among other
industries – aviation, where aerodynamics and lightweight
construction play a central role. Zagato duly applied these
principles rigorously in the construction of cars and soon
celebrated a rash of race victories as a body construction partner
to Alfa Romeo. The “necessary beauty” of aerodynamics and
lightweight construction came to represent a maxim of design, one
that has defined the form of every Zagato since. The narrow focus on
coupés, two-door driving machines stripped back to their essential
components, also became a Zagato tradition, underpinning an
“unspoilt” driving experience.
Today, with Andrea Zagato becoming the third generation of his
family to take his seat at the helm, the company describes itself as
a design studio combining the emotion and hand-craftsmanship of body
construction with the precision of state-of-the-art technology.
Zagato follows coachbuilding tradition in developing only the shell
of the car and leaving the mechanics of the machine untouched. And
it does so not by taking over the design process for large
carmakers, but by working in tandem with the relevant design teams.
More than 200 Vmax concepts, special editions and micro-series have
been created in this way down the years and find appreciation among
connoisseurs and collectors the world over. Indeed, all Zagatos are
coveted collector’s items today and worth many times what their
original owners paid for them.