BMW Individual, the Bavarian marque’s bespoke department, celebrated its 25th anniversary last year – and it all began with Karl Lagerfeld. In 1992 the famous fashion maven presented sketches for a personalized BMW, the first such request according to the firm. It was a 750iL in two-tone paint, black at the bottom and silver on top, with a fine green line separating the two. The interior coverings were made out of the same fabric as Lagerfeld’s briefcase, and from the front passenger seat, Lagerfeld’s favorite place to sit, he placed access to a fax machine, among other amenities.
For BMW, this was the beginning of a concept that had not been seen since the halcyon days of pre-war motoring when luxury motorcar manufacturers would produce a rolling chassis, and have it sent to a coachbuilder for client completion. With Lagerfeld as the first customer, BMW Individual was launched, and the entire industry took note.
Now, 25 years later, after creating numerous tailor-made cars for clients across the globe, BMW Individual teamed up with a very unique partner to produce an automobile unlike any other: the one-off M760Li Nautor’s Swan.
An elite and esoteric builder of high-performance, luxury sailing yachts, Nautor’s Swan is located in western Finland, where the sea can freeze during winter – an unlikely home for what is believed by many to be the best shipyard in the business.
One of these believers is customer-turned-company-owner Leonardo Ferragamo of fashion industry fame. The son of the family scion, Salvatore Ferragamo, Leonardo was so impressed by Nautor’s Swan that he bought a controlling interest in the firm several years ago. Recently he took delivery of Solleone, a new $20 million sailing super yacht (which is available for charter via Fraser Yachts when Ferragamo’s not at the helm).
“The first time I went to visit the shipyard in Finland,” said Ferragamo in an interview with Boat International, “was as an owner of my first Swan, years before my involvement in the business, and I was amazed. This was not an industry but a conglomerate of craftsmen. They work with their hands, passing on their talent from generation to generation; these are the same families who built ships for some of the greatest navies in the world. So, I wanted to treasure that.”
Under the leadership of Ferragamo, Nautor’s Swan has continued to maintain its superior reputation and, perhaps most noticeably, enhance its design aesthetic and luxe appointments. The 25th anniversary model produced by BMW Individual in partnership with Nautor’s Swan is a luxury sport sedan with unmistakable yachting cues.
The foundation of this dynamic sculpture is the BMW M760Li xDrive Excellence, a model that Automobile heralded as “The best driver’s V12 sedan on the market,” and about which Car & Driver gushed, “Everything it does is impressive.”
Understanding the assigned nomenclature of the car is essential to understanding its significance: M = the performance enhancement division of BMW, signifying motorsport; 7 = the flagship 7 Series model of cars; 60 = 6-liter engine; L = long wheel-base; i = fuel injection; xDrive = all-wheel drive; and Excellence = the highest level of premium fittings. In short, the best of the best.
With this German super sedan as the focus, the Finnish yacht builder contributed elements that include, most noticeably, teak panels fitted by hand with joints filled with a precise layer of rubber that allows the wood to expand and contract with changing temperatures. The gorgeous teak application is visible in the interior trims, entry sills and floor mats, as well as the floor of the trunk, all of which expertly infuses the custom-made car with a spirit of sailing without inane thematics. The result is an automobile of supreme comfort and performance that seamlessly represents the allure of the open road and open sea.
While there will only ever be one BMW Individual Nautor’s Swan, the exquisite car deftly celebrates two of the best names in their respective disciplines while demonstrating the immense appeal and charm of personalized motoring. If it inspires you to commission your own nautical bespoke BMW, so much the better.