While many view the Isetta, the M1, and some of the more recent concepts as the extent of BMW’s relations with the Italians, the history is actually more involved. The Bertone-designed 3200CS succeeded the Albrecht von Goertz-styled 503 in 1962, and the next ten years would see close collaboration between the engineers of Bavaria and designers of Italy. But while the 3200CS came about after the realization that the Lancia Flaminia coupe’s Pininfarina-built body would fit atop a BMW chassis without much trouble, and the resulting range-topping Bertone-styled V8 coupe would go on in influence BMW styling going forward, it wasn’t the only model of its kind in the lineup during the 1960s.
Those well-versed in BMW history will be aware the acquisition of Glas in 1966. By this time, the 3200CS had been out of production for a year, and when production ceased, so too did that of BMW’s all-aluminum pushrod V8. With Glas now under the control of BMW, the fate of its models now had to be decided. While all would ultimately meet their end within the ensuing decade, the Glas GT would be restyled and re-engineered with BMW’s M10 engine and sold for a few more years, while the V8—which used Glas’s own overhead-cam engine—was given an upsized power plant and sold as the BMW-Glas 3000 V8 until 1968.
Just 666 Glas V8 and BMW-Glas V8 coupes were constructed from July of 1966 to May of 1968, which makes seeing one in the flesh—especially a BMW variant—a particularly rare occasion. Considering that the BMW-Glas V8 lacked kidney grilles, it was never intended to be a formal part of the model portfolio, and after the original design was shown in 1965, it quickly earned the name Glaserati owing to its visual similarities the Maserati Quattroporte, which was also designed by Pietro Frua.
There was one BMW-Glas V8 fitted with kidney grilles though, and it’s scheduled to come up for sale this week. Initially intended to succeed the BMW-Glas V8, this Frua-designed fastback coupe never made it beyond the prototype that will be auctioned by Bonham’s in Paris, France. Just one was ever built, and although it was well received from all accounts, BMW chose to focus on the E9 coupe, which was selling in strong numbers.
This one-off, V8-powered, Italian-bodied BMW fastback coupe was shown at the Frankfurt and Paris auto salons of 1967, followed by Geneva and Barcelona in 1968 and 1969. At the last event, it was displayed wearing red, as opposed to the light metallic blue it was originally finished in. The resemblance to the Maserati Ghibli and perhaps even the Alfa Romeo Montreal is evident, but so is a sleek quality looks like it is ready to cut through the air at continental distances. After its final public appearance, it was sold to a Spanish owner who would keep it for the next twenty years before an employee of the his estate purchased it after his passing.
Few specific details are known about the car’s history through the decades, but five years ago, a restoration of sorts was completed. Work involved with this process included reupholstering of the interior, returning the exterior to a shade of light blue that matches the original, and mechanical revitalization. After restoration work was completed, the Frua fastback prototype was acquired by its current BMW collector consignor. During this tenure, additional mechanical work has been performed and the prototype is described as being in running, driving condition, and ready for use or display.
Today, Pietro Frua’s BMW V8 fastback coupe is as stunning and as captivating as it was when it first appeared over 50 years ago, and it’s too bad nothing more ever came of it. In a video from 2015, it can be seen driving, and the details of the interior along with the sound of the interesting 3.0-liter OHC Glas V8 are both captivating. Although nearly impossible to accurately assign a valuation given its one-off status, this 1967 BMW-Glas 3000 V8 fastback prototype is guided to cross the auction block from $280,000–390,000, and we’ll be watching what it hammers for.—Alex Tock
[Photos via Bonhams.]