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BMW Zagato Roadster – Bavaria meets Italy

Second offspring of BMW-Zagato collaboration makes its public debut at Pebble Beach

Published: August 20, 2012, 7:00 AM
Updated: November 22, 2021, 3:49 PM

BMW Zagato Roadster Concept

Three months ago, BMW introduced the BMW Zagato Coupé concept at the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este in Lake Como.

This weekend, a second offspring of that relationship between the Bavarian automaker and Italian coachbuilder – the BMW Zagato Roadster – made its public debut at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, in California.

The coach-building firm, Zagato, was founded by Ugo Zagato in 1919 is the only automotive body manufacturer still in independent ownership.

Encouraged by the positive reaction to the Coupé, Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design, and Andrea Zagato agreed to proceed with a Roadster model shortly after Coupé took its first bow.

"We set ourselves the challenge of preparing the car in time for the renowned Pebble Beach Concours," says van Hooydonk, which meant that Roadster was built in just six weeks, from the first design idea to the finished model.

The roadster configuration was a natural next step. No other concept embodies the pure fascination of motoring quite like this breed of car, BMW says. With the roof down, two seats and exceptional performance, it allows the driver to experience dynamic thrills and driving pleasure with all the senses.

BMW and Zagato both look have a long tradition of building roadsters. There is more to than just slicing the roof off a coupé, says Zagato chief designer Norihiko Harada.

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Like the BMW Zagato Coupé, the one-of-a-kind Zagato Roadster is ready to drive – and intended to be driven at high speeds.

The car’s proportions make no secret of that capability. The sweeping hood and long wheelbase put the driver well back, close to the rear wheels, and down low inside the cockpit.

The extroverted surface treatment is trademark BMW and the distribution of visual mass reflects Zagato's influence, resulting in an eager, athletic appearance.

A noteworthy detail of the BMW Roadster is its roll-bar treatment – which is quintessentially Zagato. The designers are said to have taken their inspiration for these components from an aircraft wing.

A bird’s-eye view of the car highlights Zagato’s interpretation of its hallmark double-bubble roof, which extends the lines of the hood all the way to the rear. This "doppia gobba," as it's called in local Italian, is a signature feature of Zagato design that can be found on almost every Zagato car.

A highlight of the BMW Zagato Roadster is its paintwork – a brilliant grey with a colour spectrum that ranges from dark grey to a light silver, depending on how the light hits the body.

While the BMW Zagato Coupé and Roadster appear to be natural replacements for the current BMW Z4, the company has revealed no plans for production of either.