Zagato took home the prestigious Concorso d’Eleganza Design Award in 2010 for the Zagato Alfa Romeo TZ3 Corsa Coupé and again in 2011 for the Aston Martin Zagato V12. Add to this the fact that Zagato chief designer Norihiko Harada and Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice-President BMW Group Design 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.
“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. 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.” says Dr.Andrea Zagato, who represents the third generation of his family to sit at the helm of the company
“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, the newly appointed 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 form.
The most apt description would be the one from BMW itself : The BMW Zagato Coupé is a collaboration between auto enthusiasts – a BMW seen through the eyes of Zagato. 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. The car’s dynamic silhouette sees precise lines forging a path over taut surfaces towards the rear.
“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 Harada.
The characteristic BMW design features – kidney grille, twin circular headlamps and the BMW logo up front make this concept easily recognizable as a BMW. Integrated air intakes in bonnet are functional and direct air into the engine compartment. 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.
Zagato’s take on the BMW radiator grille is interesting, to say the least. Matt kidney frames house countless small matt Zagato “z” letters to make up the kidney grille instead of the more conventional slats! 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.
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.
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. This is another typical Zagato trait, that links the sides and rear via the C-pillar and ensures a harmonious connection between the different sections of the car.
Professor Kamm’s studies on aerodynamic rear end have inspired both BMW and Zagato to implement the K-tail layout. 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.The reduction of the wind resistance is assured with the Kamm Tail design, without any need for a separate rear wing.
Zagato stamps its personality again with the transparent panel in the rear upper section. 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 compartment.
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.
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. while the Bavarian automakers roots in aeroplanes is common knowledge, it would surprise a few that Zagato’s founder Ugo Zagato was building lightweight aircraft bodies when he decided try to transfer these techniques to cars.
The Paint finish : Rosso Vivace
The exclusive exterior paint finish Rosso Vivace 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. BMW and Zagato have achieved this by 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 materials and high-quality details are to expected in this handcrafted masterpiece. Horizontal lines in the instrument panel and doors, heighten the interior’s sense of sporting elegance. The lines continue into a dynamic upward curve. 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” is embroidered into the seat head restraints.
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.
Mechanical details of the BMW Zagato Coupe are scarce at the moment, all we know is the engine is mounted up front and the Coupe is rear wheel driven. We can safely assume though, the underpinnings must be of the Z4 Roadster.