• Feb 5, 2012

Chris Bangle
may be the name most recently associated with BMW design, but he's just one of many men and women who have sketched and sculpted automobiles for Bayerische Motoren Werke. BMW enthusiast website BMWism.com has gone all the way back to the beginning of the brand, when a BMW was a knockoff of an Austin 7. The names we all know show up in the chronology; giants of post-World War II automotive design world like Michelotti, Bertone, Gandini, Bracq, and of course, Hofmeister.

In addition to the Italian hired guns who sketched for BMW at one time or another, a few surprising names dot BMW's history. Josef Ganz, the largely unsung automotive engineer responsible for much of the original Volkswagen Beetle, also did contract work for BMW. Aerodynamicist Wunibald Kamm based his Kamm-Coupe on BMW 328 mechanicals. Raymond Loewy's mid-century lines were wrought upon at least one BMW 507, and Albrecht von Goertz was a colleague of Loewy's before he designed the 507.

In more recent years, it's intriguing to note the diversity of backgrounds. You've got Bangle, Henrik Fisker, current design chief Adrian van Hooydonk (the man actually responsible for the "Bangle Butt"), and Z4 designer Juliane Blasi. Perhaps the most understated of all BMW designers is Jojii Nagashima, the man responsible for the outgoing E90 3 Series, the iconic E39 5 Series, and, along with Boyke Boyer, the E36 3 Series. Taken as a whole, BMW has a pantheon of automotive design big-thinkers, a trend that doesn't look to be slowing anytime soon.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 12 Comments
      GFB
      • 2 Years Ago
      I own an e36 with over 250k on the clock and an e39 with over 170k. I will drive them till the wheels fall off, then I will be in the market for a used e90 (with a manual, of course). Joji Nagashima should be a household name right next to Giugiaro. Nagashima's cars just look right. I'd love to see what comes off of his drawing board next.
        design eye
        • 2 Years Ago
        @GFB
        You are so right, GFB. I worked with Joji for 5 years at Opel design before he went to BMW. He was a thrill to work with and a joy to have lunch with, especially when he drove....sideways in his R5! He's an unsung hero in my eyes.
      eljay001
      • 2 Years Ago
      Joji Nagashima. I'd never heard of him before today but I do love the E39 and the E90. E39 is one of those cars I wish I could see on the road forever. It's just so perfect-looking. I do hope BMW eventually goes back to taking some design risks as they did under Bangle. The 3/5/7 that have come out since he's left are pretty conservative.
      Dwight Bynum Jr.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Despite their lack of popularity with some, I feel Chris Bangle and Adrian van Hooydonk have done more for BMW's styling in the last decade or so than most that came before them.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      MHayes
      • 2 Years Ago
      Not much love for CCS in Detroit - 1 designer. Though they definitely have a love affair with Art Center.
        design eye
        • 2 Years Ago
        @MHayes
        CCS has only recently (15 years) come into it's own in a much bigger way. Alot of their great grads got lost among the murky masses of the big 3. Art Center had a more internationaly-focused outlook, and during the economic slump of the early 80s, when Detroit wasn't hiring, grads went to Europe. Greg Greason, J Mays, Dave Robb, Chris Bangle, Ed Golden, and more.
      Jonathan
      • 2 Years Ago
      the E30 is the quntisencial(sp?) BMW.
      A P
      • 2 Years Ago
      They, hands down, have the most gutless designers in the world right now. No feeling, no risks and no interesting designs.
        design eye
        • 2 Years Ago
        @A P
        It might seem that way at the moment, but in the long run, their design language still has "legs". Bangle brought them kicking and screaming out or their conservatism, and it's someone else's job to strategize the next big move. I am very curious myself how this will evolve.