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F10 / F11 (2011 - Current)
The new chapter in the highly successful story of the BMW 5 Series Sedan (F10) and wagon (F11)

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  #1  
Old 01-11-2013, 04:56 PM
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Chris Bangle: Misunderstood-Discredited / Chris Bangle: The Steve Jobs of Car Design

I got to thinking about this subject, and being that I'm already convinced to be a card-carrying BMW fanboy, I wanted to formally introduce myself....

It started when I was debating this topic with a someone/s on this very Board a while back. He/they REFUSED to believe that Chris Bangle "Designed" the beloved F10 ("THERE'S NO WAY CHRIS BANGLE COULD DESIGN THIS BEAUTIFUL CAR" was the gist). Chris Bangle, the man who "Designed" the E65 and E60 'abominations' (Chris didn't "Design" any of them, he captained over others who did, and from what I understand, the guy who designed the E60's quirky butt and/or entire exterior is deceased. RIP).... no way, right?

Adrian Von Hooydonk got to stand over the then-newly-launched F10, as if it was all orchestrated to for him to appear as the man responsible for "correcting Bangle's work", as the "savior" (or so you'd believe if you read Message Boards).

The reality is this: Chris Bangle took over BMW design, and took no time to completely ruin every beautiful thing the brand had done before, design wise. He knew EXACTLY what he was doing: Controversy for the sake of it / No care about timeless virtues / Who cares if it even looks "GOOD" / Let's shake sh*t up.

And he did just that.

Following that revolutionary stage was what set the tone for car design for years to come. To this day, every Asian manufacturer has copied and exploited his work (ad nausea). While Mercedes-Benz designers run around like chickens with their heads cut off to try and be the "Bangle-Era of now", Bangle was almost a decade ahead of them, and he moved on by the time they started doing exactly what he did that decade ago (controversy, fussiness, then later "Proportionally Driven Designs" of which Mercedes is apparently starting with the W222 S-Class.... something BMW started already with the F01 7-Series). Like it or not; BMW's rapid rise in market share and sales momentum is very much tied to that.

Which leads us into more current times. What did Bangle do, just as every automotive manufacturer in the world started desperately trying to out-BMW-BMW? He showed the world that he can do EXACTLY what they asked him for from the get-go: Design TRUE BMW's, focus on pure elegance, simply beautiful, proportionally driven, graceful yet sporty, and "sensical" TIMELESS virtues. It started with the F01 in which I remember reading he sent Karim Habib to Italy to study "Italian Coachwork", and it evolved into the F10, and still spilled into the F12/F13, etc.

Yes, while everybody else was trying to do what he did a decade ago, he moved on and showed the world that he can do what nobody who's massacred his name thought he could: Do beauty, and do beauty damn right. He answered calls to bring back the patented BMW finesse, the balanced work, the lean smoothness, the ageless virtues, the style>fashion characteristics, and even some still criticized ("boring"). The spirit of the E39/E46/E39 were brought back in one swift move.

So why is he "misunderstood"? Because he gets no credit for resolving his own generational designs, or for his master plan: THROW BMW on the map by riling up the people, the presses.... then wasting no time into correcting his own work and re-employing the initial BMW vision. Of course, there are still some strong misstep designs sitting in BMW showrooms, but I'm focusing on general core design idiom here.

Insiders on Message Boards such as "ENI" and/or "SCOTT" have mentioned how personable and passionate Bangle is. How "human" he is. You can see in interview video's how passionately he waxes poetic and theorizes design, how he speaks about it sometimes as if he's merely an observer, not an expert. Mr. Von Hooydonk, for example is said to be of a far more clinical approach.

Let's not forget the cars within the BMW umbrella designed under Bangle's tutelage: The Rolls Royce lineup (Phantom, Ghost, etc.), the great re-representation of Mini, etc.

Bangle came, conquered design in one form, and then did what any great revolutionary does after: Conquer again, in another form. Then what did he do? Retired (or quit? Got fired?), letting someone else take the credit for undoing his own previous work.

And that is why I feel that Chris Bangle is the Steve Jobs of Modern Automotive Design.



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  #2  
Old 01-11-2013, 05:00 PM
jjsC6 jjsC6 is offline
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Think what you want, but the cars that were designed under his leadership looked pretty bad. Yes, that's just my opinion, but I'm not alone by a long shot. The reality is that a very large percent of BMW owners don't care what they look like or whether or not they are "the ultimate driving machine". They buy them so the whole world knows they own a "Bimmer".
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Old 01-11-2013, 05:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjsC6 View Post
Think what you want, but the cars that were designed under his leadership looked pretty bad. Yes, that's just my opinion, but I'm not alone by a long shot. The reality is that a very large percent of BMW owners don't care what they look like or whether or not they are "the ultimate driving machine". They buy them because the whole world knows they own a "Bimmer".
Not sure if you read the post, but the F10 was designed under his leadership. I agree with you since I think the pre-F01 gen looked terrible for the vast most part, but the point is it goes far deeper than that.

That's my whole point in said post.

Last edited by K-A; 01-11-2013 at 05:02 PM.
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Old 01-11-2013, 05:40 PM
yogi799 yogi799 is offline
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So are you saying the process is done many years in advance and the new 5 series (post F10) has already been designed?
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Old 01-11-2013, 05:45 PM
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So are you saying the process is done many years in advance and the new 5 series (post F10) has already been designed?
The F10 I believe was frozen in 2007 or 2008 (Bangle left in 2009). I'm sure the next gen 5-Series is already well within its design process, probably not fully penned yet I'm sure but perhaps close.
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Old 01-11-2013, 06:25 PM
smashhell smashhell is offline
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However, Bangle IS responsible for E60 nasty design.
He was the head of design at the time and without his approval, the E60 would never see the light of day.

I agree though, the last generation 5/6/7 series was some of the ugliest cars every made.
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Old 01-11-2013, 06:33 PM
yogi799 yogi799 is offline
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So is the 1 series and X1 nowadays. I want to throw up when I see these cars. X1 is IMO one of the worst looking small SUVs ever made. 1 series is some kind of a pathetic joke too. I've heard it's supposed to be discontinued at some point if I remember correctly.
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Old 01-11-2013, 06:52 PM
swajames swajames is online now
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Originally Posted by smashhell View Post
However, Bangle IS responsible for E60 nasty design.
He was the head of design at the time and without his approval, the E60 would never see the light of day.

I agree though, the last generation 5/6/7 series was some of the ugliest cars every made.
Davide Arcangelli designed the E60. It was a great design.

Van Hooydonk designed the E65 7 Series.

Bangle for me had the biggest balls in the industry - van Hooydonk can't hold a candle to Bangle's work. Bangle broke the mould, van Hooydonk follows the rules. As for the F10, product cycles being what they are there is zero doubt that it was designed and signed off under Bangle's watch. There was indeed some airbrushing that went on when he left in terms of Van Hooydonk getting credit for the design, but it's far more likely than not that Bangle had by far the bigger hand in it.
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Old 01-11-2013, 06:54 PM
jjsC6 jjsC6 is offline
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Originally Posted by K-A View Post
Not sure if you read the post, but the F10 was designed under his leadership. I agree with you since I think the pre-F01 gen looked terrible for the vast most part, but the point is it goes far deeper than that.

That's my whole point in said post.
I read it, not sure I believe it. My memory is that he has been gone for quite a while - in fact, I just looked it up - he has been gone now almost exactly four years.
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Old 01-11-2013, 06:57 PM
swajames swajames is online now
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Originally Posted by jjsC6 View Post
I read it, not sure I believe it. My memory is that he has been gone for quite a while - in fact, I just looked it up - he has been gone now almost exactly four years.
The F10 is in its third model year. There is no doubt at all that the F10 design will have been frozen while Bangle was still at the helm.
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Old 01-11-2013, 07:01 PM
solstice solstice is online now
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CB rocks, the man, the myth and the color. The E60 is not a classic beauty but it's edgy and it's very functional and a breath of fresh air in a conservative segment. The dimensions and geometry creates an athletic car which also gives the driver very good view and feel for the car. The F10 is beautiful but it's long, high hood is not optimal for view or geometry. Italians are the masters in not having to compromise one for the other, they manage to make optimal beauty feed on optimal function or if it's the other way around. Ducati and Ferrari are the masters here.
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Old 01-11-2013, 07:16 PM
tcandmm tcandmm is offline
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Originally Posted by jjsC6 View Post
I read it, not sure I believe it. My memory is that he has been gone for quite a while - in fact, I just looked it up - he has been gone now almost exactly four years.
BMW like Mercedes Benz does their design process well ahead of time, I just attened an auto focus group that was put together by a marketing firm hired by MB to give them input on the 2017 E350. BTW, they come in sport and luxury body treatments and both are ugly.
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Old 01-11-2013, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by jjsC6 View Post
I read it, not sure I believe it. My memory is that he has been gone for quite a while - in fact, I just looked it up - he has been gone now almost exactly four years.
There's no question. Bangle was at the helm for the F10 design, and of course the F01 which is the design language the F10 is so closely based off of.
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Old 01-11-2013, 07:38 PM
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BMW like Mercedes Benz does their design process well ahead of time, I just attened an auto focus group that was put together by a marketing firm hired by MB to give them input on the 2017 E350. BTW, they come in sport and luxury body treatments and both are ugly.
Damn I think I was supposed to be a part of one of those but I over slept. Did you actually see it?
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Old 01-11-2013, 08:46 PM
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I was appauled by the original Bangle interpretations. They definitely grew on me and I, in my personal opinion are some great original designs. When I see a LCI E60 Msport I am so jealous i dont have an E60 anymore. My favorite car I have ever owned is an E60 535 LCI. I would pay handsomely for a new one today. The new F10 was a bloated pig in both proportions and handling. Although the interior in the new F10 is beautiful to look at it was again in my opinion a step back. People who drink the kool aid love to praise the comfort seats, huge let down in comparison to the side bolstered sport seats back in the E60. I moved into an A7 until BMW gets its act in order. I can't wait to get back into the family when they fix undo their bangle fix.

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Old 01-11-2013, 09:41 PM
solstice solstice is online now
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"I would pay handsomely for a new one today."
BMW, here's a suggestion for the next M5: the E60 M5 with the M-DCT, the latest I-drive and full LED lights. Done, perfection.
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Old 01-11-2013, 09:49 PM
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When the E60 first came out, I loved it. It was the most beautiful vehicle I had ever seen. It wasn't until some years later I was able to finally own one, a 2008 535. I've loved it. I'm Bangle fan. I love the F10 design even more. If its design was locked in under Bangle, then my admiration is even greater.

-Corey
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Old 01-11-2013, 10:15 PM
mikeriley mikeriley is offline
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"I would pay handsomely for a new one today."
BMW, here's a suggestion for the next M5: the E60 M5 with the M-DCT, the latest I-drive and full LED lights. Done, perfection.
Well said bro. So true. I was such a BMW fan till I switched to the F10. Not a drivers car or as distinct as the E60. Sooooo want to come back when the product is right. I've never been a "its a BMW so its great" guy, the new F10 was such a failure in regards to BMW standards, but ironicaly a sale success.
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Old 01-11-2013, 11:11 PM
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As an F10 owner and a former E60 owner, it's not fair to compare the two since the current generation, F10, should be a better car in every way. That's the progression every car manufacturer sets out to achieve and the F10 has done just that.

However, I believe the E60/E65 era was very revolutionary not just for BMW, but for the auto industry. I can recall the criticism BMW got when they first introduced the iDrive. I myself was very skeptical of it too. Come on, a mouse-like design in a car to navigate the settings? Having a screen in the upper middle section of the center console looked awkward and tacky when I first saw it as it deviated from traditional designs of its time. Today, BMW has since made great strides to end up with the iDrive we now know. It has worked so well that other car manufactures have their own version of their iDrive. MB, Audi, Lexus just to name a few. Almost every car manufacturer today has implemented an upper center console screen.

I agree that Bangle and his team were a decade ahead and they did something very bold. In a way, the E60/E65 era was a paradigm shift which led to today's technology and design in cars.
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Old 01-12-2013, 03:20 AM
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When the E60 first came out, I loved it. It was the most beautiful vehicle I had ever seen. It wasn't until some years later I was able to finally own one, a 2008 535. I've loved it. I'm Bangle fan. I love the F10 design even more. If its design was locked in under Bangle, then my admiration is even greater.

-Corey
Yup. That's what I'm saying, Bangle's work was far more dynamic than just the "Bangle Era" as we know it. The F01/F10 ARE the "Bangle Era V2".
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Old 01-12-2013, 03:41 AM
Sophisto Sophisto is offline
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Not to diminish anyones credibility, but the marketing aspects of coupling a person to a certain car design is exactly that, marketing.
Cars are developed not revolutionary but evolutionary nowadays, by teams, not by some sort of messiah.

A car brand than uses one of the team members to be put forward in the marketing to the public.

Which says nothing about the real personal influence of Bangle or van Hooydonk on the BMW Models in the last decade.

BMW cars are developed evolutionary in teams.
BMW cars are sold making use of personalised marketing.
Not always the marketing claims are in complete order with the development history of the cars.
BMW is not telling the public now in january 2013, that the LCI for the F10 is ready, or that the new 5 series is allready on the drawingboards to be launched somewhere around 2017....

And who will be the lucky bloke being called the responsible desigener for that car??
Chris, Adrian?
I do not think so; it must be someone new, fresh, sparkling hot and quite marketable.

All this name calling: It is marketing, nothing more.

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Old 01-12-2013, 03:49 AM
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I take exception with the above post. Many organization have talented staffs. The truly great organizations, like Apple and BMW, have great leaders that lead talented teams. Chris Bangle did spectacular for BMW Design. Anyone can take a design aesthetic and refine it. It takes a real genius to develop the design aesthetic. He is the best bar none. He was the most innovative and influential car designer in the last 100 years.
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Old 01-12-2013, 04:46 AM
bmw325 bmw325 is offline
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I do think BMW follows their principles with regards to having 1 designer do a complete car. They have several final designs from various designers which are then vetted by thr chief designer and submitted to thr board. No one really cared until the bangle era when BMW design got shook up. Then it became fashionable to give blame/credit to bangle for any model a journalist liked or disliked.

Chris bangle was responsible for the overall aesthetic of that era though. It started with a project called "deep blue" championed by him
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Old 01-12-2013, 05:21 AM
jjsC6 jjsC6 is offline
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Originally Posted by swajames View Post
The F10 is in its third model year. There is no doubt at all that the F10 design will have been frozen while Bangle was still at the helm.
Why did he leave BMW? I'm guessing it may have had to do with the fact that BMW higher ups were forcing the design changes that he didn't like - meaning that he may not have been in control of the current design. Also, in the last two years before a car comes out I'm sure they can still make minor changes in the details of the design.

I could be wrong about whether he was still calling the shots or not, but in my mind I'm not wrong that his influence on the design of car was not positive, and like I said in my first post, I'm not by a long shot alone in my feelings about them.
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Old 01-12-2013, 05:55 AM
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Originally Posted by jjsC6 View Post
Why did he leave BMW? I'm guessing it may have had to do with the fact that BMW higher ups were forcing the design changes that he didn't like - meaning that he may not have been in control of the current design. Also, in the last two years before a car comes out I'm sure they can still make minor changes in the details of the design.
That's an interesting thought. Either way, the current design language came out under his direction, whether it was via him kicking and screaming or not. He gave it his all and we all see how great the turnout is, especially relative to the revolutionary but not so attractive vehicles that preceded them.

I saw a video where he was describing the thought process behind designing the 5-Series GT, of course that car is IMO a hideous beast but point is that car came out along with the F10, therefore the same parenting concept carries over. Also, I remember reading interviews where he was (obviously) very passionate about getting the F01 "right", I'm sure as proof to those who called his work "flawed" that he knew how to design "it just works" (to quote Mr. Jobs) as well.

The F01/F10 concepts were probably ideas close to getting underway not long after the E65 and E60 launched in 2001-2003. Bangle oversaw the whole thing from the ground up, he's the "parent designer". IMO this makes the cars extra special, but then again, I have massive respect for Bangle. Not because I love every product he oversaw, but because he showed two different sides of a great designer. Side-one wasn't for me, so I got to enjoy side-2.

Remember, the F10 debuted in Nov 2009, in Europe, and Bangle left in March 2009. There was NO time to do even the smallest of tweaks, even if they wanted to for whatever reason. That's a spec of time in car-land. Definitely completely frozen under his watch.

Last edited by K-A; 01-12-2013 at 06:03 AM.
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