There's little question Chris Bangle is one of the greatest designers of his generation. His cars were rarely pretty, but their influence resonated around the automotive world like a pipe bomb in an echo chamber. Much like cutting edge graphic design is born inside art school graduate schools years before it's ready for massive public consumption, Bangle's Bimmers were ahead of their time. And they changed nearly everything. Controversial? Of course, but that's how the public digests new design.
The BMW GINA Light Visionary Model was not only about doing more with your car, it was about multiplying the concept of what kind of object a car could be. BMW's design chief ,Chris Bangle, the man behind the BMW GINA Concept, was a recent guest professor at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and brought the vision of GINA with him.
It didn't start off as a way for readers of England's Telegraph newspaper to engage in the popular pastime of bashing American cars, but it wound up that way. To be fair, there are plenty of odd and ugly vehicles from all over the place on the Telegraph's list of the 100 ugliest cars of all time, and the voters didn't beat up on the colonies too badly. With so much homegrown hideousness to choose from, we can see how they'd be reluctant to throw stones.
BMW's current E65/66 7-Series has been roundly bashed since its introduction in 2002, and it's creeping up on retirement. Whether it was deserving of all the uproar or not is down to taste, but following up the classically styled E38 while also making a turn toward a new ethos is a 1-2 punch of controversy. BMW's finally grown into its flame surfacing, and the 2009 7-Series has been nabbed in its peculiar paisley camouflage.
BMW might be willingly giving up its title of the Ultimate Driving Machine... at least in its advertising. BMW execs were shocked to find out that a whopping 75-percent of luxury car buyers aren't considering a BMW, despite the brand's dominance in terms of sales. The answer? Push design and financial independence, and have the brass to develop advertising campaigns that draw the creative class, not simply stuffy old business types.