Pietro Frua was one of the leading Italian coachbuilder during the 1950s and 60s, during that glorious era of car design, BMW commissioned him to create two prototype 1600 GT Convertibles. Frua was already recognised for his work on the 1955 Maserati A6G/54 Coupé and the Renault Floride during his tenure at Ghia Design. Thus, in his capable hands, the BMW 1600 GT Convertible, one of the rarest classic cars was born in 1967.
Infamously, one prototype crashed during testing, leaving the sole remaining Pietro Frua 1600 GT Convertible in the hands of a very important majority shareholder of BMW AG, Herbert Quandt. In the last 50 years, the classic convertible passed through many hands before BMW Group Classic acquired the vintage automobile during a private sale.
Ultra-rare Pietro Frua BMW 1600 GT convertible Restored to Glory
The inimitable Frua passed in June 1983, that meant that less than veteran designers and coachbuilders had to work on such a vital piece of automotive history. The one-of-a-kind BMW 1600 GT Convertible with Frua coachwork had to be restored by BMW Classic Group’s vocational training team. After being tracked down and acquired, the trainees and apprentices at BMW’s Dingolfing factory, the birthplace of the classic convertible.
For 7 years, the vintage Frua coachwork 1600 GT Convertible was carefully restored to its original condition and specifications under the guidance of vocational team mentors. BMW Group Classic then assisted in production of the vintage mechanical components or crucial bodywork that were missing or no longer in production, re-creating replicas from heritage plans for the classic car. What resulted was the silver bodywork with red interior and red convertible top which ignited the imagination of in-the-know car enthusiasts of the 60s.
In terms of design provenance, Frua had previously designed a range of cars for Glas, Germany’s smallest car-maker at the peak of his career, working on the Glas 1300 GT and Glas 1700. When BMW acquired Glas, this bit of serendipitous crossroads allowed Frua to work directly with BMW. Taking a Glas sports coupe, Pietro Frua then experimented with various BMW components including grilles, headlights and engines (104bhp engine from a BMW 1600 Ti in fact) and from there, a heritage for convertible prototypes began.
The restored 1600 GT BMW convertible will be exhibited as part of BMW Group Classic’s collection. Covering a total area of 13,000 square metres, the site is located around the corner from BMW Group headquarters, close to BMW Welt, the BMW Museum and the BMW Group Plant. Besides facilities for attending to all aspects of classic vehicles, such as restoration, spare parts and an archive, Incidentally, this historic collection of buildings once included the very first BMW Group plant in Munich, fittingly, the brand’s past has now become part of its future.