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BMW Skytop: Will It Be on a Concours Lawn in 2074?

by Joe DeMatio
5 June 2024 3 min read
BMW Skytop: Will It Be on a Concours Lawn in 2074?
(Photos: BMW)

“I believe it’s important for us to make things our customers can dream of,” said BMW Group global design chief Adrian van Hooydonk recently on the shores of Italy’s Lake Como. The occasion was the ritzy Concorso d’Eleganza, a magical little car show in late May on the grounds of the historic Villa d’Este Hotel, and the dream car he was referencing is the BMW Concept Skytop, a gorgeous champagne-coloured confection built on the platform of the existing M8 convertible.

Dreams can become realities, particularly when money is no object. BMW, a major presence at the Concorso since it was resurrected in 1999, started introducing design concepts here about a decade ago. In 2022, the 3.0 CSL that debuted at Villa d’Este was so well received by the well-heeled attendees, BMW hand-built 50 of them – to commemorate 50 years of its M division – and had no trouble finding buyers at €750,000 (about £650,000) apiece. Van Hooydonk and other BMW officials made it clear that a similar path could be followed for the Concept Skytop.

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If BMW, encouraged by informal polling of affluent collectors, indeed decided to pull a few 8-Series ragtops from the regular production line at its Dingolfing, Germany, plant and give them the Skytop treatment in a dedicated workshop, deliveries could likely commence in 2025 for about £400,000. “Some people came up to me last night [after the car’s debut],” remarked van Hooydonk. “They said they definitely want one, and from a technical point of view, it’s very, very feasible.”

He further explained that it’s much easier for BMW to accomplish a very limited production run of a car like the Concept Skytop, something that requires only a few dozen buyers, than to scale up a few thousand examples of a special edition that must be run through the company’s global sales and distribution network. And if the Concept Skytop doesn’t make a lot of money for BMW? He shrugs.

“If you look around here [at the Concorso], you see a lot of fantastic cars,” he said. “And if you dig deeper into their history, often they didn’t sell a lot of them, they were incredibly hard to make, and commercially, they were not very often a success.”

The car is unlikely to be offered officially in the United States, as BMW would be required to submit five examples, or ten percent of likely production, for crash testing. But a keen buyer could potentially import it here under show-and-display regulations, a loophole which, BMW tacitly admits, several buyers of the 3.0 CSL have taken advantage of. 

Although the Skytop is adorned with the slimmest slashes of state-of-the-art LED headlights and taillamps, they are, van Hooydonk stresses, entirely road-legal and not just styling flourishes. The Skytop’s shark-nose front end nods strongly to BMW tradition, and van Hooydonk cites both the 503 from the 1950s and the Z8, which incredibly is a quarter-century old, as inspirations for his design team. (Consider that the Z8 was itself inspired by the 507 of the late 1950s . . . making the Skytop a tribute to a tribute, in a fashion.)

In the spirit of the Concorso d’Eleganza, which celebrates the beauty, elegance, and handcraftsmanship of the automotive past, the Concept Skytop is a design and desirability exercise rather than an expression of high performance. Not that anyone will scoff at the twin-turbocharged 617bhp 4.4-litre V8 borrowed from the M8 Competition model. BMW artisans wrapped nearly every interior surface with rich, reddish-brown leather, then continued the hides over the roll bar, which contains a power-operated window, and the removable roof panels. As the roll bar structure meets the trunk lid, the leather colour continues into the paint, gradually fading away toward the rear of the car. A stunning detail.

Van Hooydonk clearly relishes the opportunity to use the Concorso to introduce cars that might someday appear at similar events. “You feel like this [event] is sort of an island,” he mused during a roundtable discussion with US media. “It’s like it’s not connected to the real world, but for two or three days, it’s okay. Then we go back to solving the world’s problems.” 

Spoken like a man who is one of the principal executives at a carmaker that is, like all carmakers, struggling to plan products for five, ten, and twenty years in the future at a time of technological upheaval and great uncertainly in the global marketplace. “I think, for the brand and also for our customers,” van Hooydonk continues, “it’s nice if there are some things floating around where they go, ‘I can’t afford it, but it’s nice that the company is doing it.’ So it’s something for [BMW fans] to dream of.”

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Comments

  • Pierre Noir says:

    In a word: no.

    At least, not one worth its salt. Or one that isn’t dedicated to the BMW marque. While it has *some* nice flowlines, its styling (particularly at the front end) is overall too garish. Slapping lots of chrome about the car doesn’t help, either.

    Perhaps time will prove me wrong but I suspect the combination of i) the continued preservation of current classics and ii) the emergence of prettier modern classics will push the Skytop to the margins.

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