The Garmisch Unveiled: BMW’s Enigmatic Masterpiece

As the sun sets gently over the horizon, casting its golden hues across the asphalt, there lies an enigmatic figure shrouded in mystery, waiting to be rediscovered. Georg Meier here, and I have the distinct honor of introducing you to a remarkable piece of Bavarian history, the BMW Garmisch.

A masterpiece born from the creative minds of the esteemed design house, Bertone, and a symbol of BMW’s rich heritage, the Garmisch model has been resurrected in our “Classic Chronicle” section.

A time capsule from an era of bold experimentation, the Garmisch model first graced the world stage at the 1970 Geneva Motor Show. Designed under the watchful eye of the legendary automotive maestro, Marcello Gandini, the Garmisch was a stunning testament to the synergy between Italian design finesse and German engineering prowess.

The car’s angular lines and distinctive features, such as the bespoke honeycomb mesh grille and signature trapezoidal rear window, were a far cry from the conservative design language prevalent at the time.

And yet, as suddenly as it had appeared, the Garmisch vanished without a trace, leaving behind only whispers of its existence and a handful of photographs. For decades, the fate of this enigmatic beauty remained unknown, a mystery that would haunt BMW enthusiasts for generations.

It wasn’t until 2019, nearly half a century later, when the Garmisch would resurface, its legend meticulously revived by BMW Group Classic in collaboration with the very same design house, Bertone.

In this issue of Classic Chronicle, we’ll take you on a journey through time, exploring the captivating history of the BMW Garmisch, from its inception to its resurrection.

We’ll delve into the minds of those who brought this icon back to life, and investigate the enduring legacy it has left on BMW’s design philosophy. For the die-hard aficionados and the curious newcomers alike, we invite you to strap in and join us as we unravel the enigma that is the BMW Garmisch.

Let the Garmisch enchant you, as it has done for countless others. After all, in the immortal words of Marcello Gandini himself, “Design is, above all, about telling stories.” And the story of the Garmisch is one that deserves to be told.

Origins of the Garmisch

The origins of the Garmisch can be traced back to the late 1960s when BMW sought to collaborate with the renowned Italian design house, Bertone. At the time, BMW was focused on expanding its reputation beyond its traditional market and decided to work with Bertone to explore new design possibilities.

This collaboration aimed to bring together the best of both worlds: the engineering prowess of BMW and the artistic ingenuity of Bertone.

Marcello Gandini, a leading automotive designer, played an instrumental role in the creation of the Garmisch. Gandini had already made a name for himself in the automotive world with his groundbreaking work on the Lamborghini Miura and the Alfa Romeo Carabo.

At Bertone, Gandini was tasked with the responsibility of designing a concept car that would showcase BMW’s potential for innovative design.

The Garmisch was an expression of Gandini’s creative vision, incorporating various design elements that were groundbreaking at the time. The car featured a sharp, angular design with a clean, minimalist approach that contrasted sharply with the curvy, flowing lines commonly seen in other vehicles of the era.

The Garmisch also sported distinctive features, such as the bespoke honeycomb mesh grille, a trapezoidal rear window, and a unique vertical radio console, which would become a signature element of BMW’s later models.

The Garmisch was built upon the platform of the BMW 2002, a popular model of the time. However, it diverged from the 2002 in its exterior design, showcasing a more futuristic look.

This bold design, while polarizing to some, demonstrated the potential for a new design language for BMW. In essence, the Garmisch served as a precursor to the design direction that BMW would later adopt in the 1970s and beyond, paving the way for models such as the BMW 3 Series and 5 Series.

The BMW Garmisch was a testament to the collaboration between BMW and Bertone, reflecting a harmonious balance of German engineering and Italian design aesthetics.

This unique combination resulted in a concept car that captured the imagination of the automotive world and left a lasting impact on BMW’s design philosophy.

Disappearance and Mystery

Despite its captivating debut at the 1970 Geneva Motor Show, the BMW Garmisch mysteriously disappeared shortly after. The exact circumstances surrounding its disappearance remain unclear.

Some speculate that the vehicle was either lost during transportation or destroyed, while others believe it was carefully hidden away by a private collector.

For decades, the Garmisch’s fate was shrouded in uncertainty, with only a handful of photographs and sketches remaining as evidence of its existence.

Various theories emerged in the years following the Garmisch’s disappearance. One theory suggests that the vehicle was returned to Bertone’s workshop in Italy, where it was subsequently dismantled for parts.

Another theory posits that the Garmisch was secretly acquired by a collector who chose to keep it hidden from the public eye. Some even believe that the car was intentionally concealed by BMW or Bertone to protect its innovative design elements from being replicated by competitors.

Despite the numerous theories, no concrete evidence has surfaced to confirm any of these speculations.

The enigmatic fate of the BMW Garmisch became a topic of great intrigue within the automotive world, particularly among BMW enthusiasts. The disappearance of such a groundbreaking and visually striking vehicle fueled curiosity and speculation for years.

For many fans, the Garmisch represented a piece of BMW’s history that was tantalizingly out of reach. The model’s absence only served to heighten its mystique, turning it into a near-mythical figure within the BMW community.

The Resurrection

In 2018, BMW Group Classic, the division of BMW responsible for preserving the company’s historical vehicles, decided to embark on an ambitious project to revive the Garmisch.

This decision was driven by a desire to pay homage to the innovative design language that the Garmisch represented, as well as to honor the collaboration between BMW and Bertone.

The project aimed to reconstruct the Garmisch as accurately as possible, using the original design sketches, photographs, and historical documentation as reference material.

To ensure the accuracy and authenticity of the Garmisch’s reconstruction, BMW Group Classic enlisted the help of the very same design house that had created the original vehicle, Bertone.

The project reunited BMW with Marcello Gandini, who generously provided insight and guidance on his original vision for the Garmisch. This collaboration was essential in recreating the concept car with the utmost fidelity to its original design.

The task of reconstructing the Garmisch was a challenging one, given the scarcity of reference materials and the need to rely on decades-old photographs and sketches.

BMW Group Classic’s team of experts had to carefully study the available images and interpret the original design intentions, while also sourcing period-correct components and materials.

The team faced various obstacles in sourcing specific parts, as many were either no longer available or had to be custom-made to match the original specifications.

In some instances, contemporary technology was employed to recreate certain elements of the Garmisch, such as using 3D printing to reproduce the unique honeycomb mesh grille.

Despite the challenges, the dedicated team at BMW Group Classic, along with the guidance from Bertone and Marcello Gandini, successfully reconstructed the Garmisch in a manner that closely resembled its original form.

The resurrection of the BMW Garmisch was unveiled at the 2019 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, a prestigious event celebrating the world’s finest automobiles. This unveiling marked a triumphant return for the Garmisch, rekindling the fascination and admiration of automotive enthusiasts around the world.

The Garmisch’s Legacy

The Garmisch, although a concept car, left a lasting impact on BMW’s design language. Its distinctive features, such as the angular lines, trapezoidal rear window, and bespoke honeycomb mesh grille, were precursors to design elements that would later become a signature part of BMW’s models.

Garmisch’s minimalist and futuristic approach to design foreshadowed the direction that the company would take in the following decades, most notably seen in the development of the BMW 3 Series and 5 Series.

The Garmisch represents a significant chapter in BMW’s history, as it showcases the company’s willingness to explore bold, innovative designs and collaborate with renowned design houses like Bertone. This collaboration highlighted BMW’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of automotive design, a philosophy that has been integral to the brand’s success.

The Garmisch also reinforced BMW’s image as a forward-thinking and sophisticated car manufacturer. By embracing Italian design sensibilities and blending them with German engineering, Garmisch demonstrated BMW’s ability to create unique and captivating vehicles that stand the test of time.

In the realm of classic cars, the Garmisch holds a unique place as a symbol of a bygone era of innovation and experimentation. The story of its disappearance and subsequent resurrection only adds to its allure, capturing the imagination of classic car enthusiasts and BMW aficionados alike.

The Garmisch has become a testament to the importance of preserving automotive history and honoring the creative visionaries who shaped the industry.

The resurrection of the Garmisch serves as a reminder of the enduring impact that concept cars can have on automotive design and history.

It stands as a beacon of inspiration for future generations of designers and engineers, proving that bold ideas and unique collaborations can leave a lasting legacy in the world of automobiles.

The Garmisch Today

After its triumphant unveiling at the 2019 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, the reconstructed BMW Garmisch was returned to BMW Group Classic’s collection. The Garmisch now resides in Munich, Germany, as part of BMW’s prestigious lineup of historical vehicles.

BMW Group Classic has taken up the responsibility of preserving and maintaining the Garmisch, ensuring that this remarkable piece of automotive history remains in pristine condition for future generations to admire.

Since its resurrection, the BMW Garmisch has made appearances at various automotive events and exhibitions worldwide. Its presence at these events serves as a tribute to the collaborative spirit between BMW and Bertone, as well as an opportunity for enthusiasts to experience Garmisch’s unique design up close.

The Garmisch continues to captivate audiences, inspiring a new generation of automotive enthusiasts and reminding them of the rich history behind BMW’s design evolution.

The story of the BMW Garmisch remains a fascinating tale of innovation, mystery, and resurrection. Garmisch’s captivating design and enigmatic history continue to resonate with automotive enthusiasts around the world.

As the Garmisch makes its way through various events and exhibitions, it serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving and celebrating our automotive heritage.

Garmisch’s legacy lives on, as a symbol of BMW’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of design and engineering. It stands as an enduring testament to the creative vision of Marcello Gandini, Bertone, and the collaboration between the Italian design house and the Bavarian car manufacturer.

With the Garmisch, the spirit of innovation and the pursuit of automotive excellence remain alive and well, inspiring future generations to continue this remarkable journey.

In Conclusion

The BMW Garmisch is a striking example of the power of collaboration and creative vision in the automotive world. Born from the combined efforts of BMW and Bertone, under the guidance of legendary designer Marcello Gandini, the Garmisch showcased a groundbreaking design language that would later influence BMW’s design direction.

Its mysterious disappearance and subsequent resurrection have only added to its allure, turning the Garmisch into a near-mythical figure within the BMW community and the world of classic cars.

The story of the Garmisch highlights the significance of preserving and celebrating our automotive heritage. By reconstructing the Garmisch, BMW Group Classic has demonstrated the value of honoring the past and acknowledging the creative visionaries who have shaped the industry.

Garmisch’s resurrection serves as an inspiration for future generations of designers and engineers, reminding them of the importance of innovation, collaboration, and bold thinking.

As the Garmisch continues to captivate audiences around the world, its unique design and enigmatic history stand as a testament to the enduring allure of classic automobiles. The Garmisch represents a moment in time when two iconic forces, BMW and Bertone, came together to create something truly remarkable. With the Garmisch now restored and preserved for future generations, its legacy lives on, reminding us all of the power of creativity, collaboration, and the relentless pursuit of automotive excellence.

Georg Meier

BMW technician since 1996, began his automotive journey in 1993 as an apprentice mechanic at Automag, the world's oldest BMW dealership located in Munich. With years of experience and dedication under his belt, Georg has garnered a wealth of knowledge about the intricacies of BMW vehicles. His profound love for the brand led him to found BIMMERIST website, where he now shares his expertise and insights with fellow enthusiasts.

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