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Concept Car of the Week: Bertone BMW Pickster (1998)

Fri, 23 May 2014 00:00:00 -0700

The creation of new niche products is an ongoing process for car manufacturers and sometimes combining different segments into one can provide a popular solution. Nowadays, all these mongrels are usually categorised under the same label ‘Crossover', which doesn't mean much anymore a part perhaps for an artificial off-road appearance.

But back in America's sixties, the combination of a pick-up's functionality with the style and driving performance of a sports car became so successful that it created a whole new segment. Cars like the Chevrolet El Camino or the Ford Ranchero were hugely popular, and even today in Australia, the Holden Ute is still being manufactured.

In 1998, Bertone presented the Pickster concept at the Geneva show and surprised everyone with an unusual european interpretation of the american pick-up/sports car combo.

A very menacing front end with razor thin headlights, large nostrils and front splitter leaves no doubts about its sporty intentions. In side view, the brutally sculpted flanks appear to have been carved by a modeller on his twentieth expresso, which is understandable given the compressed timeline of the project of only three months. The fast B-pillar opens to the vast loading space which is kept closed off by a functional rear spoiler on which the tail lamps were mounted.

A loud metallic yellow was chosen for the exterior colour with contrasting grey accent on the hood to connect with the wraparound DLO. A silver rocker also visually stretched the car's length. Overall, the proportions remain balanced, mostly thanks to the large 21-inch wheels.

Inspired by the minimalism of race cars, the interior put the emphasis on the sporty character of the concept with 5-piece seats and minimalist structural details finished in a contrasting blue leather.
Bertone did not forget that functionality begins with fun and equipped the pick-up with a 3.2-liter engine from an E36 BMW M3. The rest of the car used the underpinnings of a BMW 528i from which the rear suspension offered the ideal configuration to be used on a pick up.

First seen 1998 Geneva Motor Show
Length 4,833mm
Width 1,970mm
Height 1365mm
Wheelbase 3,056mm
Engine 6-cylinder, 3.2-liter, 24 valve from BMW M3 E36
Power 320 bhp

Your author, Flavien Dachet, is a UK-based, French-born car designer. You may know him as the purveyor of KarzNshit, a photo blog that if isn't already in your bookmarks, certainly should be.

By Flavien Dachet