2007 Fisker Latigo CS

Sam Smith

"From a design perspective, we want to create really beautiful, timeless cars. We don't cater to the immediate, in-your-face impact. We cater to those who truly appreciate style-not because they want to be seen, but because they appreciate the finer things in life. It's about a limited-edition, truly personalized design." - Henrik Fisker

Yes, that's Henrik Fisker, the Henrik Fisker, the Danish designer behind the BMW Z8, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, and most (if not all) of the Aston Martin DB9. And yes, it sounds a lot like some shopworn old infomercial pitch, or maybe something from the advertising section of Nouveau Riche Monthly. As a mission statement, it's grand, noble, and entirely unbelievable. In other words, it's exactly the kind of marketing-speak you would expect to hear from the man at the helm of a young, small, high-end car company.

Here's the funny part, though: All that stuff Fisker says? He means it. On top of that, it's actually... true.

For the past two years, Irvine, California-based Fisker Coachbuild has quietly gone about the business of reinventing the long-dead tradition of the coachbuilder. His $183,500 Tramonto roadster is attractive and sleek, arguably more so than the Mercedes-Benz SL upon which it is based. His clientele are almost always tasteful and wealthy - not exactly a common combination. And his cars actually seem to be unique (despite their being based on mass-produced corporate products), stylish, and worth their astronomical sticker prices. (That $183,000 fee that the Tramonto brings is a base number; most come in roughly $50,000 to $100,000 higher, and the only true price cap is the customer's imagination.)

So here we are in the summer of 2007, and the affable Fisker has decided to pop out with yet another production car. Unlike the Tramonto, Fisker's latest offering is based on a BMW product - it's essentially a reskinned and retrimmed BMW 6-series, albeit one whose engine can produce upwards of 650 hp, one that looks almost nothing like the ugly-baby car it began life as. Pay careful attention here: Yes, that's right. The Fisker Latigo is actually pretty.

Here's how it works: You pony up for a hideous-looking-but-really-quite-fast BMW 650i or M6, then drop it off with Fisker and his crew in Irvine. Your 6er is then cloaked in all manner of carbon-fiber and aluminum bodywork (carbon hood, bumpers, fenders, sills, trunk, rear diffuser, aluminum doors). The entire interior is dismantled-sadly, iDrive stays, though it's at least gifted with an uber-cool billet aluminum knob-and retrimmed by hand, with multiple grades of leather and a virtually endless selection of colors available. (The highest-grade leather on offer feels and looks like Italian furniture skin because, well, it is.) Billet aluminum touches such as switch surrounds and trim panels are installed - again, all to your particular taste and preference - and the headliner is retrimmed in heavily sueded Alcantara. There's an almost blinding amount of dead cow - it's like bathing in a sea made of the world's nicest couches. In short, everything in the interior is revamped, recovered, and extensively facelifted.

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