Chris Bangle. A Legend at BMW
The BMW E65 Series 7 will be the most important legacy of Chris Bangle, or probably one of the most renowned designers at BMW. Christopher Bangle started his career at BMW as chief of design in 1992 and retired from the same post in 2009 after clamorous calls by angry BMW lovers to have the company terminate him.
One of his early accomplishments at BMW was the design of the Z9 Gran Turismo concept car. Throughout his career, Bangle demonstrated an evidently independent streak and persistence with his views on automobile design. In addition to the BMW 7 series, Bangle also gets credit for working on designs for Rolls Royce, the Mini, and the concept car GINA. Although the latter two designs won him much acclaim and even though the BMW 7 is gaining some popularity, Bangle was never able to live down the controversy created by his design of the BMW E65 Series 7.
So what went wrong?
The Bangle Butt
When Bangle designed the BMW 7 in 2001, it came out with a trunk that was surprisingly higher than usual and more protrusive. This caused immense disappointment among BMW customers who slammed the car as ugly and created uproar over the company losing touch with its design tradition. In his defense, Bangle explained that the design’s creation was in response to strict European design standards, which required modification to make the car safer in the event of rear-crash accidents.
Moreover, he made explicit his design philosophy that called for periodic revolutionary changes after a period of minor evolutionary modifications to car design. Despite these explanations, the public were not willing to listen and the BMW E65 Series 7 eventually earned the derisive moniker of ‘Bangle Butt’. Another design of Bangle’s that created controversy was the 5-Series GT, which many denounced as an ugly car because of its long hood and negligible trunk.
To his credit, Bangle remained an original designer throughout his career. His inspiration was his own convictions, and design philosophy and never copied designs from other sources. What’s more, Bangle had acquired a legendary status in the automobile industry because of his bold approach to auto design. His legacy at BMW will continue and his influence on the company’s design philosophy will persist.
In 2009, Christopher Bangle resigned from BMW never to return to the automobile industry. He pursues his design philosophy in a relatively free environment.