Named for its dual purpose, the Spicup is a contraction of ‘Spider’ and ‘Coupe’ into one word.
This one was a joint effort and actually led with Bertone proposing the idea of a spider coupe with a retractable hardtop to BMW. A 2.8-liter straight six lives up front and the one-off Spicup BMW opened the door to more Bertone-BMW collaboration later in the 1970s.
The machine is certainly unique and eye-popping today: imagine it today as some form of BMW Z4 variant: a cabrio two-door built off a traditional sedan platform. More accurately, considering the roof and semi-popup headlamps, was a comparison with the Honda Civic Del Sol of the 1990s. This car also wore a mini targa panel for rainy days.
The BMW Spicup solution to storing the two-section roof panel in a tall roof pillar was, and remains, very unique in its style and practicality. The front segment slid inside the rear segment, which in turn hid under the roll hoop.
During the late 1960s, BMW was in a desperately lean period of sales – perhaps its most perilous post-war financial and product situation. The German car market was still tiny by the numbers, and BMW was unable to find a wider audience for its E3 models.
So there was little to lose in letting Bertone convert one into a trendy convertible – BMW surely did not have the budget to do so itself.
The BMW 1600 sedan was nearly finalized at this point in 1970, and BMW brought the Spicup to all the latest motor shows to drum up interest in the brand. Whether the Spicup can take some responsibility for launching the BMW 2002 phenomenon in the 1970s is not clear — but it definitely helped take the design pulse of the day.
Today, the Spicup is a minor celebrity, worth far more than the tall coupe’s of BMW’s own creations in the 1970s. This one-of-a-kind car sold by Bonham’s in 2011 for $586,000 — in spite of, or perhaps helped by, this unoriginal color and frame-up restoration by BMW and Bertone before the sale.
Shown in original orange and current green here.
1969 BMW 2800 Spicup