BMW apprentices restore ultra-rare 1600 GT convertible to tip-top shape

Only two original prototypes were built — this one survives

BMW 1600 GT Convertible
BMW 1600 GT Convertible / Image Credit: BMW
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It's not often that apprentices at any company, big or small, are given major responsibilities. It's even less often for trainees to handle projects that deal with rare and precious pieces of a company's history. But that's exactly what happened when BMW restored a BMW 1600 GT Convertible with coachwork by Pietro Frua.

BMW built only two prototypes of the 1600 GT Convertible, which was commissioned from Italian designer Frua of Maserati and Ghia fame. One prototype was crashed during testing, leaving one in existence. Early in its life, it belonged to Herbert Quandt, an important BMW AG shareholder at the time. After living in that family, it was passed through many owners before making it back into BMW's hands.

Such a special car needed special, careful care, so it was brought back to the Dingolfing facility where it was first produced. For the past several years, with the guidance and watchful eye of their superiors, a vocational training team of apprentices has done a full factory restoration to the car's original condition and spec. BMW did not provide "before" photos or many details of the restoration, but we believe the car's original color was the same seen here, silver, with a red interior and red convertible top.

BMW Group Classic assisted the hopeful bodywork and vehicle construction mechanics by finding original parts. When certain parts were not available, BMW Group Classic re-created replicas to fit the car.

The 1600 GT's history is directly related to Frua and one of his previous projects. Frua had previously designed the Glas 1300 GT and Glas 1700. BMW purchased Glas, and a version of the Glas sports coupe was fitted with a new rear axle, the engine from the BMW 1600 TI, a BMW kidney grille, and headlights from a BMW 02 Series. From that sprouted the convertible prototypes.

Now that the 1600 GT is refreshed, it will live BMW Group Classic's collection. It's probably better it stays inside. We wouldn't want anybody to crash this one.

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