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17 September 2012

Painting with sheet metal: BMW Zagato Roadster

Words by Leo Lim | Photos courtesy of BMW Group
As one of its definitions, art is something that has the ability to move an individual’s emotions, and such emotions have been constantly stirred by a design firm in Milan, Italy. Zagato has been known to produce art since World War I, using sheet metal as its canvas. So it is not a surprise that established car companies come knocking on their door step for one-off creations and prototypes, to which BMW is no exception.  
Following the much-lauded Zagato Coupe which launched four months ago, BMW and Zagato decided to up the ante and craft a drop-top version. The result made its debut at the recently-held Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. This is the BMW Zagato Roadster.
A lot of the Zagato Coupe’s laurels were simply carried over - the distinct Z-mesh grill, five spoke alloy wheels, and the nose's shark-like grin. The flowing lines from the wings also transcend to the doors similar to that of the coupe; but beyond that, the roadster is a completely new animal. Looking at its rear end especially, the new Roadster definitely makes one think how hard the designers labored over the design-changing appea. 
Unlike the Coupe, the Zagato Roadster has a better visual balance from front to rear due to the shedding of the roof. Owing mostly to how the lines were sculpted, the Zagato Roadster has that feeling of being lighter, not to mention a smaller rear profile which we completely love. The only question that I have left unanswered is, “Did the transition to a roadster design kill off the double bubble roof that Zagato cars are well known for?” 
Now that the roof's gone, you get a better view of the cabin that will leave you similarly breathless. The Roadster moved on to a more sophisticated tan and black leather color combination from the grayscale racing tones of the Coupe. The colors encompass the vehicle's interior to such an extent that even the roll bars at the back of the seats are covered in leather.  
As a design exercise, the BMW Zagato Roadster has exceeded high expectations set previously by the Coupe version. A chopped down version of the Coupe it is not, but rather, a work of art on its own right. I hope and pray that such a beautiful car reaches production and on to the pavement for the public to enjoy.