While coach-built works aren’t necessarily the first thing that springs to mind when you think of BMW, the manufacturer is no stranger to the low-volume game. You need look no further than the story of the Zagato Coupe, or the modern-day 3.0 CSL. More die-hard enthusiasts may recall a particular collaboration with Pininfarina that debuted at the 2013 Concorso d’Eleganza – the BMW Gran Lusso Coupe Concept. Production was promised as long as the vehicle was well-received at its debut – which it was. But, the $850,000 work of art never had its shot at the planned 200-300 unit run. In Steve Saxty’s three-book BMW Behind the Scenes set, you can learn more about the historic Pininfarina-penned concept car.
An Uncertain Arrangement
The Gran Lusso Coupe was on shaky ground from the very beginning. Most enthusiasts are already aware of Pininfarina and Ferrari’s relationship. The nature of which actually required the Italian automaker’s permission for the design house to display a second show car based on Ferrari components. Secondly, Pininfarina was sketching and working on the concept before even signing a design agreement with BMW. In Saxty’s book, Fabio Filippini recalls a fateful moment before Luca di Montezemolo in Maranello when everything falls into place.
Italian Passion Meets German Refinement
Felix Kilbertus, leader of the design team behind the Gran Lusso, fondly remembers styling the vaunted coupe. “The hood and fenders were sculpted to appear seamless and smooth…a motif in the [side] pillar visually stretched the rear glass a bit further backwards.” The stretched affect created a unique Hofmesiter Kink that solidified the Pininfarina design as something wholly unique to BMW. Along with insight from design heavyweight Joji Nagashima (E39 5 Series, Z3, E90 3 Series), the Gran Lusso shipped off to Munich for approval.
V12 Power And 7 Series Refinement
BMW and Pininfarina needed a drivable show car. For that, Pininfarina needed a BMW drivetrain. Which, of course, was happily provided. A shortened chassis was shipped direct to Italy, complete with running gear and V12 engine under the hood. The last hurdle was making an interior that felt unique, but still patently BMW. With a couple of shortcuts – revealed in Saxty’s book – and lots of hard work, the car debuted at Villa d’Este mostly as planned. Sadly, that was as far as the BMW Gran Lusso would travel.
A Glimpse of the Future
At the time, much of the automotive press were confident that the Pininfarina design was the BMW 8 Series. Though that wasn’t the case, one look at the stylish concept is enough to sell you on that idea even ten years later. The proportions and front bumper design are nearly identical to what made it to the production 8er Coupe. Today, the Gran Lusso holds up well, but it’s a shame we never got to see it on the road.
In the end, the Gran Lusso suffered a similar fate as the Zagato Coupe – another story you can find in the BMW Behind the Scenes set by Steve Saxty. So if you’re interested in learning more about what went behind the scenes, then the three-volume boxed set will be available soon – at a pre-order price of $299.95/€270/£78.11. Alternatively, the principal book, “BMW by Design” is available immediately for $99.95/€90.02/£88.10; all with free shipping in USA, UK and EU.