BMW: Touring Coupe with 400bhp and a manual gearbox ‘possible’ for production
“Now it’s just a question of gauging market interest,” said BMW design boss
BMW is primed and ready to resurrect the 'Clown Shoe'. Speaking to TopGear.com at last weekend’s Villa d’Este concours show, BMW’s big design boss Adrian van Hooydonk said all the pieces are in place to build a limited series of its new Concept Touring Coupe.
Which means the Z3 M Coupe – the original BMW breadvan – will spawn a successor with more power and the promise of pointy dynamics.
“It’s not planned at the moment, but we did [the CTC] in a way so that it could be done,” van Hooydonk said. “We’ve been through this cycle before. We've shown some concepts here [at Villa d’Este] where we got a lot of positive reactions, and people said ‘build it’, and most of the time we couldn't do it because it became too difficult.
“We’ve gone through that cycle with the CSL recently. Now we know what it takes. So it would be feasible. It would be possible,” he added.
He said if the breadvan were to see the light of a production facility, it’d be a ‘niche’ product. “It’s probably best to keep it outside of the main organisation because our factory produces 1,000 cars a day. If I ask them, ‘excuse me, I’ve got this idea for 50’, they might not want to take my call.
“If it were up to me, I’d be happy if we could do 50, like we did of the CSL. If we could do that year after year, or every second year, that would be a great thing, because then you keep adding classics to the lineage,” he added.
He confirmed the engine inside the new CTC is a 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six, here producing “close to 400bhp”, which is a fair chunk more than the regular Z4 M40i’s 335bhp. He also notes how “we offer a manual now in the Z4, so you could combine these ingredients into a very nice driving car”.
Indeed, closing the roof on the Z4 promises to bring boons for handling and grip. “The open-top car has enough rigidity already built in, then when you add the roof, you add extra stiffness.” He said the Z4 Roadster’s rollover protection hoops were retained for this concept car, while the actual business of the roof and rear hatch was entrusted to Superstile in Italy, BMW’s long-time specialist construction partner.
“The craftsmen in Italy were able to weld this aluminium roof and fender to the existing body parts. They’re very good at that kind of manual work,” he said. “We knew them, we loved them, and we knew they would be able to do it in a short amount of time.”
Indeed, work on the CTC began last October when van Hooydonk went to Superstile's Italian HQ waving a sketch of what he wanted, and was immediately met with a positive response. Though, the idea of a new breadvan stretches back even further.
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“As a matter of fact, we had this idea floating around the studio some five years ago,” he said. “When we were designing the Z4 Roadster, we had this idea of a coupe already, so we had some studies even back then.
“We even made a full-size foam model but then we shelved the idea – we had other things to do. When we were thinking about Villa d’Este, we thought now is the time. Let’s do it. We pulled out the preserved foam model, showed it to a few people including Markus Flasch, and we said ‘OK, good idea, let’s do it’.”
No surprise he thought it a good idea. Flasch, who until recently was in charge of BMW’s M Division, still owns this car’s predecessor. “We know our heritage very well, and that’s recent history,” van Hooydonk said of the original Z3 M Coupe. “A lot of us have actually driven that car and loved it. I had one at the time. Marcus still has one.”
As for reprising the Clown Shoe for the 21st Century? “Now it’s just a question of gauging market interest,” van Hooydonk said of putting the Concept Touring Coupe into limited production. Judging by how many people accosted him at Villa d’Este, a small production run seems like a foregone conclusion.