Bangle’s Best Work


By Gunnar Heinrich

CHRIS BANGLE may now be gone from BMW, but his flame surfaced legacy,  thanks to the nature of Bavarian product cycles, will be long-lived.

And as reports surface about the nature of events at BMW that surrounded his resignation, it’s interesting to note that Mr. Bangle’s influence extended well beyond the Roundel.

According to BusinessWeek, “[Bangle] also oversaw the design of BMW’s recent re-do of the MINI Cooper, as well as the MINI Clubman, more so than the design of the original 2000 MINI. And he led the design of the Rolls Royce Phantom after BMW acquired the iconic British brand.”

In the history of “villains” and Mr. Bangle was most certainly reviled by many for the controversial aspects of his work; most notably on the E65/E66 7-Series, not all sport handle-bar mustaches and eat puppies for breakfast.

There’s good mixed in with the bad.

And while the Phantom isn’t Royce’s loveliest work, it is a superior representation of the modern super-luxury chariot. It may just be the most positive point to Chris Bangle’s legacy at BMW.

If BusinessWeek‘s reporting proves accurate, there’s more to Chris Bangle than his detractors (myself included) have focused on.

[Linked: TheAutoBeat]

February 06, 2009

About the Author: Gunnar Heinrich is publisher of Automobiles De Luxe online and is executive producer of the Automobiles De Luxe Television series on PBS member station CPTV.

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  1. IIRC there Bangle’s ascension to head BMW design was greeted with anticipation by BMW insiders and the automotive press, but along the way something went horribly amiss. By the time Bangle arrived BMW’s design while often outstanding was becoming derivative of itself. My suspicion is that BMW’s management felt similarly and Bangle was given the task of making BMW as important in design as in engineering. It became a case of careful what you wish for.

    From the appearance of the first Z4 (a car I do like) spy pics and the intro of the 7 the reaction was pretty negative, but as loathed as flame surfacing has been the influence has spread. Honda incorporated several BMW design ques in the Accord and the Korean’s really adapted the language. So to an extent BMW was successful.

    I like the Mini, but the Clubman suffers from poor proportions. The Phantom is breathtaking, but it lacks the subtlety earlier RRs; seeming more a limo than a drivers car. Not far from an earlier residence a gentleman had a Silver Seraph as his daily driver. One day I found myself parking next to it in a garage. By coincidence the owner appeared as I was admiring the car and we began talking, I asked him what he like best about it and he told me that it was the cars ability to be noticed without commanding attention. Hard to say the same about the Phantom.

  2. You know, having driven the Clubman I don’t mind it at all. Those double rear, electronically open doors are cute touch, too.

    The Silver Seraph really was such an elegant car.

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