The Forgotten- Fisker Coachbuild

Anyone remember Fisker Automotive? Well, if you don’t I’ll give you a quick history lesson. Fisker automotive made the Karma, which was one of the world’s first plug-in electric hybrids and the car that, amid other pressing issues such as financial issues and the resignation of company founder Henrik Fisker, was plagued with recalls and deemed a fire hazard. Fisker declared bankruptcy in 2013, leaving a short legacy and a few cool cars in the rear view. However, the story starts well before the Karma. 

Henrik Fisker, whose resume is purely epic, decided to build his own brand sometime in 2004. Side note: Mr. Fisker, is the man responsible for car designs such as the BMW Z8, Aston Martin V8 Vantage and DB9 among other high-end vehicles. He decided to team up with a a buddy and create Fisker Coachbuild, which was a short lived brand but produced a coupe of pretty cool cars. They were hand built machines, which catered to the whims of the future owner. In other words, the cars were built per customer spec. 

Fisker Coachbuild was meant to offer customers of high end sports a way to be even cooler on the golf course, with a high end custom car built to the customer’s wants. This was an attempt to bring back the lost art of coach building.

Enter the Tramonto, which was Fisker Coachbuild’s first car. Although production was expected to reach about 150 units, only 15 were built. It piggybacked off of the SL-Class Mercedes with its architecture but differs in design. The customer commanded either a V8 or V12 AMG power plant from the luxurious, Italian leather clad interior. Out of the 15 that were built, 14 were V8 powered (meaning a 3.6 second 0-60 time and 202mph top speed) and the last one was powered by a mighty AMG V12, forcing over 700HP and 1000lb-ft of torque. The V12 model was capable of a 0-60 time in 3.2 seconds and a 205+mph top speed which is impressive even for today’s standards. 

After the Tramonto had it’s time on the assembly line, Fisker’s next project required a BMW 6-Series for the base architecture. This car was dubbed the Latigo CS. It’s similar to the Tramonto, in the build process but differed in design and units produced. The driver say in Italian leather seats while pushing a 650HP, RD Sport motor. This one wasn’t as popular as Tramonto, with only 2 units every being built, which only adds to its rarity. #000 was the prototype built on a 645i chassis. while #001 was the only Latigo CS ever delivered to a customer. #001 now resides in a private collection somewhere.

These two cars came during the worst time, due to the fact that customers wanted the exclusivity combined with fuel efficiency, effectively destroying the plan with Fisker Coachbuild, which turned to Fisker Automotive which eventually went bankrupt and is now being resurrected to become Karma Automotive. But what is in a name?

As far as I’m concerned, the Tramonto and Latigo CS, were two ideas, conceived at the improper time. Nowadays, these two cars would still be relevant and Fisker could have been Tesla before Tesla, if the Karma would have not been problematic. By now, Fisker’s EV’s would have probably stunted Tesla’s growth and dominance in the market. But, the Tramonto and Latigo, would have been huge money makers had atleast the U.S. not been stuck on the SUV craze, and driving gas prices thru the roof.

At the end of the day, we all only knew Fisker for its Karma and it’s epic fails. However, rewinding time a few years before the Karma, would yield the Tramonto and Latigo CS, which ironically enough were based on two cars, from two rival companies. Maybe that’s why the idea didn’t work. I don’t think Mercedes and BMW could work under the same nameplate, but it made sense at the time, and could have been successful. 

So, remember this much. The ill-fated Fisker Karma was not the first car the bear the Fisker name. The Tramonto and Latigo CS were.

Photo Credits to the Photographer 



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