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First Look: BMW Concept Skytop Set to Debut at Concorso d’Eleganza

by | May 24, 2024

BMW’s new Concept Skytop is a retro-futuristic ragtop that carries over distinctive design features of the Bavarian automaker’s historic 503 and Z8 models. It’s making its debut this weekend at Italy’s annual Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. Headlight.News has a first look.

BMW Skytop concept front shot

BMW’s Skytop concept is pushing the envelope of BMW design

Italy’s Lake Como is home to one of the world’s most elegant classic car shows, the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, and BMW is a familiar participant, not only showing up with some of its most historic models but introducing some intriguing new concepts, as well.

And so it is this year with the debut of the striking new BMW Concept Skytop. It’s a futuristic 2-seater that harkens back to some of the brand’s most revered roadsters and convertibles without simply settling into the retro category.

“The BMW Concept Skytop is a truly unique and exotic design, in the tradition of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este,” says Adrian van Hooydonk, head of BMW Group Design. “It offers a combination of driving dynamics and elegance at the highest level, comparable to its historic ancestors, like the BMW Z8 or BMW 503.”

Forward into the past

BMW Sky Top concept top down

The Skytop pays homage to past BMW roadsters like the Z8

If BMW had to draw from any past models, the Z8 and 503 are certainly good choices. In their day they were purist designs that were as much automotive art as mere transportation. And that’s clearly what van Hooydonk and his team were shooting for with the Concept Skytop.

In keeping with modern design, the overall shape is clean and aerodynamic. But it’s no jellybean. Its surfaces are, in BMW’s words, “taut and muscular,” with the emphasis on a handful of character lines, notably the subtle crease that emerges out of the front wheel wells and flows back through the rear quarter-panels.

The hood rises out of the front shark-nose fascia, with another, central crease accenting the Skytop’s athleticism. That spline was directly lifted from the Z8, noted van Hooydonk. A subtle flying buttress gives a sense of motion and, at the back end, aluminum trim atop the trunk lid further accents the flow of the vehicle’s design.

With the Skytop, BMW clearly steps away from the retractable hardtop designs that had been so popular in recent decades, opting for a removable soft top. Finished in leather, the automaker explained in a statement, they “can be stored in a special compartment in the luggage space.” Completing the design, the concept features a fully retractable rear window.

Step inside

BMW Skytop concept interior

The interior is an oasis of simple luxury accents and sleek technology

One of the more creative details sees traditional door handles replaced by subtle winglets that, with a tap of a finger, activate a power release function.

The cabin boasts a decidedly modern appearance, with both a digital gauge cluster and a large touchscreen rising out of the center stack. The familiar BMW iDrive controller sits atop the center console.

Reddish-brown leather and accents dominate the interior, including the twin sport seats. “The technically elaborate colour gradient was crafted by an experienced master painter at BMW Group Plant Dingolfing,” BMW noted in a statement.

Crystal elements complete the appearance, giving the cockpit a more elegant and sophisticated look.

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Skytop concept top down above shot

The removable soft top quickly stows away inside a special compartment in the rear

While the Bavarian marque has put significant emphasis on electrified drivetrain technology with its recent concepts – notably the Neue Klasse prototypes – it sticks with a traditional drivetrain for the Concept Skytop.

Like the Z8, BMW noted, the new show car draws power from a 4.4-liter 617-horsepower TwinPower Turbo VW borrowed from the M8 Competition model.

The carmaker doesn’t specifically address the obvious questions about what the Concept Skytop represents. It describes the show car as a “one-off,” though there’ll likely be plenty of interest from Concorso attendees in seeing whether the Skytop might influence a future BMW 2-seater.


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