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BMW encores Zagato Coupe with Roadster

Twin top: Following a positive reaction to the BMW Zagato Coupe at the Italian Villa d’Este event in May, the German-Italian duo teamed up again to produce this stunning Roadster.

Zagato and BMW rush out Z4-based Roadster in time for Pebble Beach debut


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20 Aug 2012

BMW and Zagato premiered a Z4-based Roadster concept at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California over the weekend as a follow-up to the BMW Zagato Coupe unveiled at the Italian Villa d’Este event in May.

The one-off coach-built sportscar was quickly prepared following a positive reception to the road-legal Coupe in Italy less than three months ago and took just six weeks from initial design sketches to finished product.

Apart from a switch from deep metallic red on the Coupe to a silver-grey finish on the Roadster, described as resembling liquid metal, the front-end’s styling remains unchanged, retaining the re-profiled headlights, low-set kidney grille – with Z-patterned mesh – and large, deep-set bonnet and side vents.

Around the back, Zagato has applied its signature double-bubble roof shape to the open car’s rear deck, with bulges stemming from behind the leather-trimmed roll-over hoops to the beginning of its integrated rear spoiler.

Echoing the Coupe’s dark glass tailgate extension between smoked tail-lights, the Roadster features a slim glossy strip that more elegantly covers the rear fascia, seamlessly linking the rear clusters.

The flattened rear deck arising from the lack of a fixed roof also accentuates the muscular haunches that are shared with the coupe and help build the impression of a squat, purposeful stance.

Matte-finish bright silver five-spoke alloy wheels complement the colour of the bodywork and are said to hint at aircraft propellers, pointing to the shared aeronautical origins of both BMW and Zagato.

Instead of the coupe’s moody interior colour scheme of dark grey with red piping, the Roadster gets black seats, lower dash and door trims with large swathes of tan leather on the dash-top, centre console and seat sides, plus generous amounts of tan piping and stitching – including the trademark Zagato ‘Z’ embroidered on the head restraints.

The tan colour flows across the interior’s upper surfaces like a ‘rail’ that creates “a visual connection between the inside of the car and its exterior … embracing the driver and passenger like a large protective arm”.

Senior vice-president of BMW Group Design Adrian van Hooydonk credited the expertise of and “outstanding teamwork” between BMW and Zagato with producing the show car within such a tight schedule.

Andrea Zagato, CEO of the famed Milanese design house and coachbuilder, said the project “shows what is possible when two successful companies pool their resources”.

The Coupe was BMW’s first collaboration with an Italian design house since the Giugiaro-designed M1 coupe of 1978 and this second vehicle points to an ongoing relationship.

Although both Coupe and Roadster are one-off concepts, Zagato insiders have reportedly not ruled out strictly limited production – if the price is right.

Rumours abound that elements of the Zagato Coupe and Roadster point to the next-generation Z4 that will supersede the current E89 folding-hardtop sportscar that was launched in 2008.

The presence of separate Coupe and Roadster concepts could suggest the next-gen Z4 will return to the two-model line-up of the original Z4.

Through the Coupe project, BMW re-established a connection with the Italian Rivolta family – from whom the Bavarian car-maker bought the production rights to the famous Isetta “bubble car” in 1954 – as Marella Rivolta is the wife of Andrea Zagato and was responsible for overseeing the car’s interior trim and colours.

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