28 January 2005

BMW could be gearing up to launch a new flagship car – the Z9. These official renderings – created by BMW’s Californian styling studio – were released at the Los Angeles Auto Show at the beginning of January.

Dubbed the California Spyder concept, BMW’s Designworks studio says the concept would have a folding carbonfibre roof and be powered by the ‘700bhp V10 engine that powers the BMW-Williams F1 car’.

At first glance these sketches might look like a flight of conceptual fancy, but BMW bosses have already admitted that a flagship project is on the drawing board. It would almost certainly be powered by the M5’s V10 and could be based on a development of the Z8’s aluminium chassis.

It’s likely that this is the supercar project that a senior BMW figure mentioned at a meeting of financial analysts last July. The official said that BMW was considering building such a car, and that it was closely monitoring the market and moves from rival car makers.

When Autocar attempted to clarify the surprise comments, a senior BMW spokesman played down the possibility of an imminent launch. He hinted that the project could be rendered pointless by the arrival of the M6 and M6 CSL.

The studio computer renderings pictured here show a big, elegant machine that takes the Z4’s ‘flame-surfaced’ looks and refines them considerably. The sketch that shows the Spyder with doors open reveals the folding hard-top under the boot lid. The smaller rendering shows how the car could look in coupé mode with the roof erected.

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