Car design: evolution or radical change? Chris Bangle and BMW

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DrJohnWright
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In 1992 Chris Bangle was appointed head of BMW design but his first all-new car was the 2002 E65 7-Series. I met Bangle at the international launch of the E46 3-Series in Germany in 1998. He told us that the evolutionary styling that had been BMW's theme since the 1970s had to finish. What was needed was radical change. The E65 (image 2) was widely reviled and now, frankly, looks just weird, though interesting. It has aged less well than either of its predecessors, the 1986 model (image 3) and its 1994 successor (image 4). Mercedes had one disaster with the S-Class, the W140 (image 5) but recovered with the beautifully lithe W220 of 1997 (image 6). The W221 (image 7) was an evolutionary advance which didn't actually constitute much of an advance (IMHO). So, here's the question: radical cut-through or careful evolution? Ever since the Bangle era of the early 2000s, BMW has retreated into a kind of doldrums of conservatism. (Jaguar, too, has had problems with its radical change of design. Some say the current models 'don't look like Jaguars'.)
2 months ago