Image: All Images BMW

In 1970 Marcello Gandini designed the BMW Garmisch concept for Bertone. Following its debut at the Geneva Motor Show that year, the car simply disappeared and has not been seen since. This year for the Villa d’Este Concours, BMW recreated the coachbuilt Garmisch inch for inch, from an old neue klasse 2002, just as it had been done in 1970. A missing piece of BMW history has been recreated for, uh, funsies.

“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”, says Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President of BMW Group Design, who greenlit the project. “Building the BMW Garmisch for a second time gave us the opportunity to pay tribute to Mr. Gandini, recall one of his lesser-known cars and highlight Bertone’s stylistic influence on the evolution of BMW design. For me, that alone was reason enough to do this project – filling in the gaps and completing BMW’s history.”

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The Garmisch concept is both garish and elegant somehow at the same time, allowing for flamboyant design mixed with restrained features. The Gandini-trademark honeycomb pattern rear window louvering is my personal favorite feature. It’s such a unique look that wouldn’t look at home on anything not featuring his bodywork.

This recreation was painstakingly crafted from nothing but period photographs, many of them in black and white. One piece of the puzzle that helped this process, however, was Marcello Gandini himself. BMW called upon the maestro to help with things like color choice and interior materials. The team then used 3D modeling tech to give it shape, then it was hand-hammered by skilled tradespeople in Turin, as the original Garmisch had been.

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“When I first heard that BMW wanted to recreate the BMW Garmisch, I was a bit surprised”, Marcello Gandini recalls. “Now 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.”

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That’s pretty high praise, then. BMW and Bertone have crafted a convincing dupe of an original concept from 1970. I’m genuinely impressed.

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I appreciate everything about this car, and truly wish that it had been pressed into production as a high end luxury compact coupe. The vertical radio and heater controls are unique and interesting, and the design of the steering wheel warps my tiny human brain. The design is dramatically well ahead of its time. With reduced curvature and simplified language, this almost looks like a precursor to the larger E24 6-series that wouldn’t be on the market for another six years.

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Oh, and these crazy elongated hexagonal kidney grilles are simply exceptional. I wish BMW had followed that line of design reasoning through to today.

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In any case, it is mighty impressive that a company could recreate an actual three-dimensional and functional car from nothing more than fuzzy decades-old memories and a few stacks of photographs.

I love it, and I want one.

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