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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Car Design: Bangle Dangles

Chris Bangle, BMW's controversial chief designer, has announced his retirement from the company and indeed the entire auto industry. While this is understandable considering the scarcity of good jobs in the autoverse right now, Bangle is simultaneously one of the most loathed and influential modern car designers.

2007 7 Series
The American born Bangle's "flame surfacing" design had little to do with Burger King but everything to do with unusual curves, angles and lines. His 2002 7 Series was widely panned, as was his 5 Series, but both were sales successes. His 7 Series trunkline in particular can be seen in a whole host of luxury cars included the current Mercedes S-Class.
2004 5 Series
He also was a big influence on the first Rolls-Royce to emerge from BMW ownership, the brutalist moderne Phantom in 2003.

Before he was at BMW he was best known for creating the slashed-sided Fiat Coupe.
Fiat Coupe
Love him or hate him, he pushed car design away from bland look-alikes and into more daring polarizing areas, surely a good thing. My favorite of his BMW tenure is the 6-series - to my eye the best blend of his big shapes and eye catching detailing.
6 Series
Bangle is succeded by Adrian Van Hooydonk who did last year's fantatsic Homage concept and the CS big sedan concept as well as the underwhelming new 7 Series. BMW has taken a turn back to conservatism of late - let's hope they allow Van Hooydonk the same freedom as Bangle enjoyed.

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