Italy’s Zagato is one of the legends of the coachbuilding industry, having penned some of the most expressive cars in Italian automotive history. BMW is one of the world’s most respected and recognized automakers. Together, they’ve collaborated to design the BMW Zagato Coupe, which was just revealed at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. From the looks of it, they’ve worked very well together.
While the BMW Zagato Coupe was mainly a styling exercise that allowed BMW and Zagato to collaborate and stretch their design teams in new directions, this car is a runner. BMW says the Zagato coupe is a fully road-legal car that has undergone high-speed testing, which challenged the designers further as they had to pen a car that could actually hit the streets and the track. While BMW made no mention of powertrain or running gear, the Zagato coupe appears to be Z4-based, no doubt making it easier to get the car to the street.
This is far from the first time BMW has worked with Italian designers and firms, but it’s been more than 30 years since it has done so, making this the first true modern collaboration. The BMW/Zagato designers used all the latest techniques and technology at their disposal to create the BMW Zagato Coupe, but the car’s aluminum body was fully hand-built and molded into its dynamic shape.
The Zagato coupe’s long hood is reminiscent of the Z4, and its set back greenhouse features a double-bubble style roof -- a Zagato signature design cue. It also employs a take on the Kamm- tail made famous in part by the 1940 BMW 328 "Mille Miglia" Kamm coupé. Out front, air intakes have been integrated into the hood in order to send extra air into the engine. Zagato gave the BMW grille some new touches, with matte kidney frames (highlighted by z’s in the grille mesh) inspired by Buckminster Fuller geodetic structures, for all you Buckminster Fuller aficionados out there.
The rear end of the BMW Zagato coupe is highlighted by an upper transparent panel that’s also a traditional Zagato flourish. The three-section look uses dark-tinted glass surfaces to help open up the interior and create better sight lines. The rear bumper feeds into a large diffuser and matte finish tail pipes that give it an aggressive, race-themed feel. The car rolls on 19-inch, five-spoke propeller-look alloys (also with a matte finish), and it’s sprayed in a special paint finish called Rosso Vivace, a rich, red sheen that can change hue depending how the light hits it thanks to a complex, multi-layered paint process.
Inside, the Zagato coupe has several hand-designed elements, including specially designed horizontal lines in the instrument panel and doors, gray materials with contrasting red stitching, and other red accents. There’s also a Z embroidered in the seats -- we’ll give you one guess what that means.
In recent years at Villa d’Este, BMW rolled out its M1 Hommage and 328 Hommage design exercises -- concepts paying tribute to two of the most amazing cars in its history. But with the BMW Zagato Coupe, BMW and Zagato have designed a vehicle that melds their design DNA into something new and expressive -- a car that would easily look at home on today’s roads.
“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,” said Karim Habib, BMW’s design chief in a statement announcing the car. “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.”