BMW Pickster, the Bavarian pick-up you didn’t know existed

Although it is hard to find examples, some European companies have dared to try their luck in the pickup truck segment with better or worse results. That’s what Bertone did in the late nineties when he decided to create the BMW pick-up you didn’t know existed: this was the BMW Pickster and this was what it represented for the automotive industry.

As we said, the firm behind the BMW Pickster is that of Bertone, the famous Italian coachbuilder: It was not a direct creation of the German brand, although it does take one of the models from the Bavarian house as a starting point. It took them three months to shape the project in order to present it at the 1998 Geneva Motor Show.

Bertone engineers and designers got to work: they had to find a car that would allow them to create a van. The chosen one was a BMW 528i, that saloon was perfect because both the design of its rear part and the suspensions of that axis gave the possibility of having a wide space capable of accommodating a flat cargo platform.

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Solutions ahead of time

The BMW Pickster measured 4.8 meters long, 1.96 meters wide and 1.35 meters high: figures that were not far from those of the BMW 528i that acted as a donor car to create this peculiar prototype. Bertone retained most of the mechanical features: it was powered by a 320PS 3.2-litre inline-six engine from BMW Motorsport. Of course, the exterior and interior were radically modified.

For this transformation they used BMW parts as well as others made to measure and necessary to create this unique piece. Interestingly, in the body of the BMW Pickster the logo of the Bavarian brand does not appear, but the traditional grill… that they modified a bit to give it their touch.

It sports 21-inch wheels, which was also uncharacteristic in the late 1990s on most production cars. On them he had mounted some Michelin PAV tires, which were Run Flat: Another rarity for its time. Inside, covered in blue leather, the unique design of the seats, which were made up of five pieces, and a Magnetti Marelli navigation system stood out.

Convert a saloon into a pick-up

The box of the BMW Pickster was the key element in the creation of Bertone, which, at first, it aspired to fill the gap left by the Chevrolet El Camino and the Ford Ranchero in the US market. His idea, however, was more focused on performance than utility: the Italian coachbuilder was keen to offer GT capabilities with a vague sense of functionality. An idea that raised doubts.

The part intended for cargo I was too small for any kind of professional purpose, but it seemed like it could offer some kind of usability on an individual level… despite that rear wing that prevented easy access and was removable for precisely that reason.

enjoy the concepts

Probably, and although it has never been confirmed, Bertone never had the intention of selling his project to BMW or of making it happen on his own. The history of the Italian bodybuilder and their prototypes that never reached the public It is long, but it served to show his capabilities. The idea of ​​a BMW pick-up that, in the nineties, mixed performance, a different style and a touch of practicality was as utopian as it was brilliant.

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The exercise they did with this prototype perfectly represents that time when the automotive industry was not shy about investing heavily in creating show models like this. The German pick-up showed the world what happens when a famous coachbuilder decides to go out of the way to transform a vehicle into a vehicle that its manufacturer would not consider designing for him. And he reminds us that there was a time when conceptual models could exist for the sole purpose of enjoying them.

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