Off radar

The Fallen Stars
BMW Nazca M12

Challenge to grow

Photo credit: BMW, Wheelsage

To beat the competition, the designers and technicians of large manufacturers must be kept on their toes and at peak performance. Especially with prestigious brands, such as BMW, who create a sort of virtual gym where prototypes and concepts are developed that on rare occasions actually make it to the market but nevertheless serve as a unique way to look towards the future. A great example of this methodology can be seen in the three versions of the BMW Nazca that saw the light of day between 1991 and 1993. 

The meticulous search for fluid lines gave the first version of the Nazca, the M12 from 1991, a drag coefficient of just 0.26 thanks to a pronounced wedge shape

In this case, the challenge was taken on by an external designer, Italdesign, in the years when control of the company had passed from the founder Giorgetto Giugiaro to his son Fabrizio. Faced with the theme of designing a super sports car powered by a 12-cylinder engine, it would have been difficult to forget the charm of the M1 from the 80s, created to compete in the Pro Car Championships and driven by F1 drivers during the Grand Prix races. Giugiaro had already developed similar models using Oldsmobile and Bugatti mechanics, something that proved very useful in the conception of the first Nazca, the M12, which was presented in Geneva in 1991. Its engine was the same one used in the 750i and 850i at the time, a 5-litre V12 producing 300hp. 

Giugiaro had already worked on the search for fluidity and aerodynamic efficiency the previous year, creating this concept for Bugatti: the ID 90

The very fluid and aerodynamic lines were received very favourably, so much so that a second version was created, baptized the C2, with a slightly lightened rear end. With the same engine modified by Alpina to produce 350hp, the C2 featured an elegant integrated rear wing obtained by opening up the previously enclosed upper section of the tail fascia between the lights. Everything seemed ready or production, to the point that the C2 Spider appeared at the Monaco Grand Prix. Among the novelties introduced with the C2 were the visible rear engine and the clever removable side and rear windows that were stored in the very generous luggage compartment, converting the C2 into an open-topped spider. 

The wedge shape of the Nazca M12 gave it a rather voluminous and heavy rear end that was corrected with the C2

Ready to receive the orders? Nothing! Only 3 made-to-order examples of the C2 were ever produced. Back in Munich, they decided that this beautiful training session for the technicians – in the latest version, the engine had been increased to 5,600cc and produced 380hp – and the designers had reached the end of its road. Too bad. Thanks anyway, Giugiaro, for the stimulus.

1992. Important work carried out on the rear end of the Nazca C2 lightened the car and introduced the elegantly integrated spoiler
In this image the first Nazca, the M12, and in the second, the C2 for comparison
1993. The Nazca project took another big step forwards: on the C2 Spider, the engine was visible, a fashion destined to spread rapidly in those years
Beautiful, with the ingenious removable glass system that converted it into a targa version, the C2 Spider marked the end of a promising project but remained a pure design exercise