Apprentices have restored a rare, one-off BMW in a project spanning several years.

The 1600 GT convertible is the only surviving example of two prototypes commissioned from Italian designer Pietro Frua in the ’60s.

The cars left the production plant in Dingolfing for the first time In the autumn of 1967, but the test drive for one came to an abrupt end when it was involved in a catastrophic accident.

The second car was was handed over to BMW AG’s then major shareholder, Herbert Quandt.

The 1600 GT remained in the hands of the Quandt family for many years before it was sold.

A string of owners followed that included a fashion model from Munich and businessman from Fürth in Franconia, before the car found a new home at the Munich-based Allianz Centre for Engineering.

It was here that major restoration work was undertaken for the first time, to ensure the car was preserved for posterity.

When BWM Group Classic acquired the car, it came up with a plan to return the convertible to its original condition at the very place where it first saw the light of day.

The restoration project at the Dingolfing plant formed part of the training of apprentices who aspired to become bodywork and vehicle construction mechanics.

BMW Group Classic supported the project in a number of ways, with the supply of original parts while components that were no longer available were painstakingly remanufactured.

When the BMW 1600 GT was originally built, the company had just taken over the Dingolfing plant from car maker Glas, a company that had successfully produced the Goggomobile since 1955.

The compact sports car was fitted with the rear axle, the seats and the 77kW engine from the BMW 1600 TI, a BMW kidney grille for the front end of the automobile and the round headlights from the BMW 02 Series.

The idea of placing a convertible alongside the sporty coupé came from the USA.

A proposal was made by the importer Max Hoffmann to develop a new version of the coupé with a 2.0-litre engine and an open-top version.

In October 1967, Frua delivered a convertible body mounted on a strengthened floor assembly.

This was then painted in Dingolfing where all further assembly work took place.

On November 16, the BMW 1600 GT convertible was entered in the plant’s production book as being completed.

However, plans for series production and export to the USA never came to fruition.

CHECKOUT: BMW prints a million car parts

CHECKOUT: Holy BMW, it’s the Batmobile!

Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.