Monday, January 21, 2008
Dude, They Pimped My Bimmer II
Andres Duany pointed out to me yesterday that Bangle is the master of the concave curve. Very few cars have had concave curves, but Bangle puts them all over his, along with contrasting, attention-getting bulges, creases and slashes. It's all supposed to give the company a distinctive brand, but it already had a distinctive brand, one with elegant, sporty cars, "the ultimate driving machines." Now they drive better than ever, but Bangle's effort to make them "different" has made them look like ugly hot rods, increasingly less different than American and Japanese iron. From certain angles they look like your father's Oldsmobile, or one more squashed Japanese bug.
Flipping the channels last night, I saw Hugh Grant and Renee Zellweger driving through the English countryside in a sky blue Mercedes-Benz 220 SE Cabriolet similar to the one above, in a scene from Bridget Jones. It was so elegant.
Under Wilhelm Hofmeister, BMWs were less expensive and sportier than Mercedes, but also elegant and harmonious (unfortunately I couldn't find a good photo of the very elegant BMW 2000cs, below). It seems Bangle just can't stand harmony, which has a lot to do with why so many BMW owners can't stand him.
Hofmeister wanted to make a beautiful car. Bangle has the conceptual, non-visual idea that something different is needed for branding.
PS: Note the Mercedes pictured had a 2.2 liter, 4 cylinder engine, and the BMW a 2 liter 4. I don't know if either had more than 120 horsepower. BMW now offers a 730 hp 10 cylinder engine and a 6 liter V12, and Mercedes has a 600 hp, 6 liter V12. These are part of the reason why Global Warming is upon us.
PPS: The Bangelicious successor to the 2000cs -
2007 BMW 650i
Bangelicious features include,
- the chrome doo-dads on the top of the grilles,
- the aggressive bulge of the nose,
- the oversized second grille below the grille,
- the cartoon-like reproportioning of the classic BMW double grill,
- the chrome doo-dads on the headlights,
- the pseudo-organic outline of the headlights,
- the high "belt-line,"
- the low, sloping roofline,
- and the aggressive slashes and creases.
The chrome trim on side of the 2000cs unifies the car. Bangle uses his chrome trim on the door to fragment the design, making the 650i look like the 2000cs after lots of double espressos and a serious nervous breakdown. (I just wish I could find a better picture of the 2000cs, which is more elegant than it appears in this photo.)
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Don't you mean concave curve, because they go into the car? Or what do you mean?
Posted by: Simon at Jan 22, 2008 1:57:27 AM
You're right, thanks. Maybe that was an unconscious expression of my rejection of Bangle's idea.
Posted by: john at Jan 22, 2008 7:46:00 AM
Both BMW and Mercedes are facing the same situation: their traditional markets are getting older. If they want the brand to survive (when their market dies out from under them), they need to appeal to a younger market with their new designs. I, like you, long for the old days, but face it—we're fast approaching fossil-hood, and if these auto makers want to avoid going the way of Oldsmobile, they've got to adjust.
Posted by: Katherine at Jan 22, 2008 3:44:15 PM
It seems like they should be able to do new and different without doing new, different, and ugly.
Posted by: Simon at Jan 22, 2008 7:22:01 PM
I've asked. Neither BMW nor Mercedes has studies that support what you're saying. This was a case of "If it ain't broke,
don't fix it."
I suspect a lot of it is Bangle selling them his whole package. And his package comes from auto design schools, where they emphasize the designer's ego and being different - listening to Bangle talk is exactly like listening to an architecture student talk.
In urban design, the same thing happened. Traffic engineers and architects talked cities into urban removal. They said people wanted it, but reality was a lot more complex than that.
Here in New York, architects convinced developers that their buyers wanted glass boxes. Then Bob Stern's 15 CPW made more money than all of the others. Paul Goldberger called it the most financially successful building in the history of New York.
When I go out looking for a car, I want a car that drives well and looks good. "New" and "different" never crosses my mind. I doubt the average BMW buyer is any different.
Posted by: john at Jan 22, 2008 11:02:18 PM
It’s true that the cars of old have that timeless beauty and classic appeal. But I must say the new models of BMW aren’t too bad either. I still can’t help but turn my head towards a BMW when it passes by! LOL. Maybe it’s just a matter of “to each his own.” Most people today are probably looking for modern, or even futuristic, designs, which is what BMW is probably going for. But I do hope they’ll continue to innovate their designs. Who knows? Maybe the brand will be able to create something new and beautiful (to everyone’s eyes) again someday?
Posted by: Erwin Calverley at Feb 15, 2013 11:05:09 AM
@Erwin: People always look for something new, fresh, and innovative, so manufacturers will keep on developing great versions of these cars. Hmm, I think we can bring back old trends in manufacturing cars – much like clothing. It’s quite impossible to produce the same vehicles we had back then, but we can probably develop a car that is as good as or even better than the older ones, right? ;)
Posted by: Ivo Beutler at Feb 21, 2013 4:40:07 PM