Chris Bangle may be the name most recently associated with BMW design, but he’s just one of many men and women who have sketched and sculpted automobiles for Bayerische Motoren Werke. BMW enthusiast website BMWism.com has gone all the way back to the beginning of the brand, when a BMW was a knockoff of an Austin 7. The names we all know show up in the chronology; giants of post-World War II automotive design world like Michelotti, Bertone, Gandini, Bracq, and of course, Hofmeister.
In addition to the Italian hired guns who sketched for BMW at one time or another, a few surprising names dot BMW’s history. Josef Ganz, the largely unsung automotive engineer responsible for much of the original Volkswagen Beetle, also did contract work for BMW. Aerodynamicist Wunibald Kamm based his Kamm-Coupe on BMW 328 mechanicals. Raymond Loewy’s mid-century lines were wrought upon at least one BMW 507, and Albrecht von Goertz was a colleague of Loewy’s before he designed the 507.
In more recent years, it’s intriguing to note the diversity of backgrounds. You’ve got Bangle, Henrik Fisker, current design chief Adrian van Hooydonk (the man actually responsible for the “Bangle Butt”), and Z4 designer Juliane Blasi. Perhaps the most understated of all BMW designers is Jojii Nagashima, the man responsible for the outgoing E90 3 Series, the iconic E39 5 Series, and, along with Boyke Boyer, the E36 3 Series. Taken as a whole, BMW has a pantheon of automotive design big-thinkers, a trend that doesn’t look to be slowing anytime soon.