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Roadfly Magazine
Issue 12
Table of Contents

Past Issues Index
Roadfly Magazine
Porsche Carrera GT3
Issue Twelve
May 25, 2004
Porsche 911 GT3
2004 New York Auto Show Coverage
BMW Promotes Chris Bangle
First Drive: 2004 Bentley Continental GT
Digital Camera Comparison & Review
ZF Sachs Nivomat Suspension
Preview: 2005 Porsche 911
Coming Next Issue
Beat Gas Prices
BBQ Guide
Dells Auto Museum
iPod FM Tuners

For the Love (and Lack) of Style:
BMW Promotes Chris Bangle (continued)

BMW 5 series

Bangle with Design Team

Go to
Chris Bangle Photo Gallery
BMW must give bats a run for their money on the Amsler Grid (you know, the eye chart with the big "E" on top), because from what we've read on the Roadfly message boards, many BMW loyalists are looking for new love. Some have flirted with other brands, some held-on to their current models, and others are trying to weather the storm. Perhaps the new 7 was the result of a lover's quarrel - surely BMW wouldn't set themselves up for another round of Bangle-induced bashing.

Alas, and for reasons unknown, BMW left the blinders on, launching Bangle's redesigned 5-series in early 2003. And once again, the critics howled. Many journalists were slightly more kind, skirting the styling issues by focusing on the handling and performance improvements (which is a lot like dating someone for their personality). But the enthusiasts weren't playing as nice. Many dubbed it the "BMW Grand Prix," referring of course to the 5's strong resemblance to a certain General Motors offering.

So after taking another one on the chin, thanks to Mr. Bangle, what did BMW do to combat this ever-growing popularity problem? Did they "dump that zero and get with a hero?" Well, not exactly...the official news from Munich was announced on February 3: "Bangle Strengthens Design Teams of the BMW Group." So much for kicking him off the island.

BMW, in a bit of an odd move, shifted Bangle to the boardroom, making him Director of BMW Group Design. And while Bangle may not have been completely removed from power, there has been a significant buffer placed between him and the sheet metal. The news was welcomed by many, but the rumblings were still there - heck, just weeks earlier, a prominent European automotive publication had all but dropped the guillotine on Bangle - predicting his demise by mid-to-late 2004.

In the grand scheme, this change is no glass slipper for BMW enthusiasts, because Adrian van Hooydonk was named as the new BMW Automobile Design Group leader. Mr. Hooydonk was largely responsible for the design of the resurrected 6-series and also played a role in the 7-series styling. Smells like more trouble in paradise, Mildred.

So what do all of these changes mean? In all likeliness, very little. We don't expect any extreme makeovers, and BMW shouldn't expect too many Valentine's Day candies from lovelorn suitors. BMW recognized a 19% drop in sales for January 2004, but placed the blame on weather and excess inventory. Browsing the many message boards sheds a different light - insiders are speculating that unless BMW can pretty up its appearance (and quickly), the sales slump may continue. BMW spin-meisters play with numbers and stories to support their agendas.

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