BMW Garmisch – Recreation of a Lost Legend by Marcello Gandini


Villa d’Este at Como served as a beautiful background for BMW Group to show a recreation of a car… lost fifty years ago. Yes, you read it right. Lost. The automobile we are speaking about is BMW Garmisch and was a prototype designed by Bertone Studio as an independent design proposal. The avantgarde lines were firstly premiered at the Geneva International Motor Show in 1970 after which, all traces of the car disappeared.

What was left were few pictures and some drawings in Bertone Studio’s archives, and great memory of the head designer – Marcello Gandini. Being doubtlessly one of the most famous car designers in the World, throughout his career he was responsible for few of the iconic vehicles that changed the automotive world – including Lancia Stratos Zero, Alfa Romeo Carabo, Lamborghini Countach, Miura and Marzal. His trademark were brave lines creating wedge shapes, which he also blended into the Garmisch.

When asked about the design of the Garmisch, Mr. Gandini said: “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.” Additionally, even though many concepts usually lack the final interior touches and focus more on the body geometry, Garmisch was finished with incredible nuances, such as a vertical radio or ridiculously big and flamboyant mirror jumping out of the glovebox… or should one say glove-drawer?! Even the name of the car was not random. As skiing was very popular in Italy back in the 60s and 70s, the automobile was named after one of the Alp resorts – Garmisch-Partenkirchen.


At some point, the idea of rebuilding Garmisch was born. Who else could be of better help to rebuild the car, than the original creator himself? As the answer is no one, Adrian van Hooydonk headed to Turin to meet the master, ask for his approval and at the same time – for some help. Based on the very limited documentation, specialists from BMW Group Design and BMW Classic departments created a 3D rendering of the car, followed by a full-scale model. Then, Marcello Gandini added the missing bits and pieces from his memory, as well as lead the team to refabricate all relevant details, such as external color and internal finishes, fabrics and textures.

To top it all off, the car was not put together on a modern assembly line, as rather traditional coach-building methods were used by skilled craftsmen from Turin. The final effect is simply jaw-dropping. The front of the car attacks the viewer with sharp, angular variation of the traditional kidney-shaped air intakes, surrounded by square, glass-covered headlights. But the rear of the body does not disappear, either. Marcello Gandini added a pair of louvers on the C-pillars and then signed his piece of art with honeycomb mesh covering the rear window – just like he did on the Marzal.

Although a little bit surprised by the wild idea at the very beginning, Mr. Gandini was more than happy with the final effect. “(…) 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.”


The recreation of BMW Garmisch, involvement of Marcello Gandini himself and eventually rebuilding the one-off, lost car is a fantastic story. To me it shows that the big brands really do care about their heritage to a great extent. They are willing to go the distance, to devote large teams and work on small but invaluable projects, when speaking in terms of discovering their past and remembering the roots. In my book, it is a confirmation that the automotive industry is a great environment, full of not only keen businessmen, but also true enthusiasts.

Chapeau bas, BMW and Marcello Gandini for what you have achieved by rebuilding the Garmisch. Your work truly is inspirational and impressive.

Text & Photos: Adam Pękala ©
Quotes and vintage photos: Courtesy of BMW Group Media Communication

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