CERNOBBIO, Italy – The posh Concorso d’Eleganza at Villa d’Este, promoted and managed by BMW Group, provides the perfect setting for the unveiling of the bespoke BMW Pininfarina Gran Lusso Coupe that will set the German auto maker’s standard for car design this decade and likely will influence the entire auto industry.

The masterpiece honors both companies and their ability to constructively cooperate born of a shared passion for automobile advancement.

“The joint-design venture was born here at Villa d’Este,” Fabio Filippini, Pininfarina vice president-design, says after a long and friendly conversation with Adrian van Hooydonk, BMW Group director-design.

“In our conversation we were sharing the same vocabulary for our cars: purity, style, elegance, technology, excellence,” Filippini recalls. “I told Adrian that we at Pininfarina would love to show him some of our visions of a luxurious BMW Pininfarina. He encouraged me to do so, and here we are with our Gran Lusso Coupe.” 

Although designed and built at Pininfarina, the Gran Lusso is the outcome of a common effort under the direction of van Hooydonk and Karim Habib, head of design for both BMW Group and the BMW brand. They ensured the design approach of the two partners would merge to create a car whose character expresses both 100% Pininfarina and 100% BMW.

The one-off stands out for its Italian exclusivity and modern finesse, as well as its fluent and purposeful surface design. Clear contours highlight the elegant, tailor-made bodywork. At the same time it bears the unique hallmarks of BMW, with a long wheelbase, stretched hood, short overhangs and a setback greenhouse with smoothly sloping roofline.

Our sources add a few more details: the Gran Lusso is built on a new platform provided by BMW, with a wheelbase 1.7 ins. (4.3 cm) shorter than the current 7-Series. As such it would be built on the bones of the next-generation 7-Series while introducing an entirely new design.

The Gran Lusso’s holistic, dynamic sculpture combines with a superlative V-12 powertrain to speak the language of sovereign motoring.

Whether BMW will want to keep the bespoke Gran Lusso Coupe for itself or for a limited number of customers worldwide is to be seen. However, many BMW executives at Villa d’Este say they would love to see the car on sale some day.

Herbert Diess, member of the board in charge of research and development, says that if market research and public reaction indicate the car would find 5,000 buyers willing to pay a reasonable €200,000 ($257,000) for it, a business plan would make sense.

Rolls-Royce last year delivered almost 4,000 cars; selling 5,000 Gran Lusso Coupes in a lifecycle of two to three years would not be out of the question.

Working with Pininfarina continues BMW’s long and successful tradition of collaborating with exclusive designers. Habib recounts past projects such as the Giugiaro-styled BMW Bertone 3200 CS with the so-called Hofmeister kink featured on BMWs in production today, and the 328 Coupe Aerodinamico that won the 1000 Miglia open-road race in 1939. 

Michelotti designed the 1959 BMW 700 which marked the auto maker’s renaissance, and the early 1970s saw creation of the M1 designed and produced by Italdesign.

With BMW’s expansion into new, unfamiliar territories such as volume production of front-wheel-drive cars and electric or full-hybrid models, there is a risk that the balance between the auto maker’s premium image and growing popularity of the brand will tip toward the latter. The Pininfarina Gran Lusso Coupe will add significant weight to the opposite site of the scale.