As I signed in, I noted a teaser which said I was a lover of all things BMW. I'd like to make an exception to that. This is it.
The 1969 BMW ‘Spicup’ Convertible Coupé is a one-off with a sliding roof that was rediscovered after 20 years in a barn, restored and just sold by Bonhams for a whopping $600,000. There was no report of white canes in the room, but I'd have believed it if there were. "Rare and should be" exactly summarizes this cheesy monstrosity. As they say, bad taste is timeless.
During the '60s, BMW enjoyed a close relationship with Italian designer Bertone, whose Giorgetto Giugiaro was been responsible for the 3200CS coupé. When Bertone wanted to showcase engineer Enzo Cingolani’s idea for a three-piece sliding top made of stainless steel, he pitched the idea to BMW.
This unfortunate result was the Spicup, which was unveiled at the 1969 Geneva Motor show. The name Spicup is a combination of the terms ‘Spider’ and ‘Coupé’. It was based on the BMW 2500 (E3) saloon and powered by a 2.8-liter straight-six engine which provided 170bhp and 174 ft-lbs of torque, with a top speed of 130mph.
Visually the car was a disaster, a sort of rounded Fiat X19 with an Alfa Montreal nose. It was totally out of line with BMW's increasing sophisticated offerings — imagine if your bride-to-be turned up to meet your Ivy League parents in a 1970s disco outfit and a big Afro, talkin' trash.
Mercifully, the Spicup had little to do with past or future BMW’s, so the only one built was bought by a German dealer in Düsseldorf, who had a special showroom devoted to exotic cars, perhaps the equivalent of the castle tower in Jane Eyre, in which the mad wife was locked up.
A few years later, the Spicup was purchased by a Dutch dealer who actually road-registered it. The exterior colour was changed from bilious green metallic to orange and the elaborate green and silver interior was sprayed black.
The owner was enthusiastic about the roof, which transformed the car from spider to coupé and back again, but he also reported that that the car’s roof was not watertight which led to disastrous leaking and subsequent rust.
Thanks to its E3 underpinnings, the car was used as a daily driver between the Netherlands to Germany and racked up 100,000 kilkometers in 10 years, which makes it probably the most-used one-off show car in the world.
Emigration plans could not influence the owner to sell the Spicup, so it was put in storage in the 1980s, and finally discovered in 2008. The car was offered accurately as ‘some weird model with BMW badges’, and was purchased by collector of coach-built exotica.
Tired, incomplete, scratched and dented, and with serious corrosion, the Spicup was restored by Carrozzeria Granturismo in Milan. It was first shown at the Villa d’Este concours d’élégance in 2009 — surely testing that august event's idea of elegance — and subsequently at the BMW Museum during the summer of 2010.
I'd say the seller got the last laugh here. The new owner certainly has a talking point, though the Spicup will continue to leave most observers shaking their heads, 42 years later. — Paul DucheneBack to News