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    Thread: did Chris Bangle get the last laugh?

    1. Member Dieselstation's Avatar
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      04-16-2012 02:36 PM #1
      So when his "Flame Surfacing" designs started rolling out, everyone HATED it! It's use of heavy creases and curves to play against lights and shadows was just too revolutionary.. and he was eventually fired from BMW from all the backlash.

      But did he get the last laugh now that you see this style of design more commonplace?

      Edit: sorry.. not sure if he was actually fired, or "resigned".. but he's no longer chief designer at BMW.







      Last edited by Dieselstation; 04-16-2012 at 02:52 PM.
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    2. Member 2.0T_Convert's Avatar
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      04-16-2012 02:39 PM #2
      Was he really fired over the backlash?
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    3. Member freedomgli's Avatar
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      04-16-2012 02:40 PM #3
      Yes. He was ahead of his time. I've long admired BMW's handsome styling but Bangle made very interesting looking cars at a time when everyone else was still following the status quo.


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      04-16-2012 02:41 PM #4
      Is being commonplace the goal? I thought the goal was to look good, and it appears that he just dragged the rest of the industry down.
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      04-16-2012 02:41 PM #5
      He only gets the last laugh if he's making bank now that his design style is becoming popular
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      04-16-2012 02:41 PM #6
      I always regarded BMW styling as classy, refined, and a tad bit understated. The Bangle curves just came from no where and looked strange compared to previous models. Don't mind the styling on the other car brands, especially Mazda.

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      04-16-2012 02:43 PM #7
      Quote Originally Posted by 2.0T_Convert View Post
      Was he really fired over the backlash?
      No.
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      04-16-2012 02:43 PM #8
      I'd say he set the trend (not that cars have never had sculpted panels) but the 7 series was still not a pretty car.
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      04-16-2012 02:43 PM #9
      I never had an issue with the flame surfacing. The Dame Edna headlights and the humpback trunk lid on the other hand...

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      04-16-2012 02:44 PM #10
      Perhaps he popularized "flame surfacing" and the "Bangle butt". But both arguably came several years before:




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      04-16-2012 02:44 PM #11
      There's no doubt he got the last laugh. The Bangle butt (albeit toned down) and flame surfacing has been emulated in several different cars across several different brands. Between Bangle's design cues and the introduction of iDrive, BMW was a major source of influence during the 2000s.
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      04-16-2012 02:45 PM #12
      Fired? That's just false.

      The "flame-surfacing" would've been implemented with or without Bangle. It was a brand-new stamping process and Bangle just happened to be at the right place at the right time.

      Having said that, the designs are his and he put BMW in a completely new styling direction, but the "flame-surfacing" thing would've happened with or without him.
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      04-16-2012 02:46 PM #13
      Quote Originally Posted by cryption View Post
      He only gets the last laugh if he's making bank now that his design style is becoming popular
      He's not exactly getting a commission off of every flame surfaced Hyundai out there.
      Also if he got fired, he's probably not laughing much at all.
      Side note, he designed cars before flame surfacing.
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      04-16-2012 02:48 PM #14
      Whether he got fired for backlash or not, I think his designs changed the industry. Clearly, its affect is still in the industry and will be for some time. Whether you liked his designs or not, it's an amazing feat and acheivement to have that much influence.
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    15. 04-16-2012 02:56 PM #15
      It was just something different, even if it was strange. Jr. Designers copied him leading to the king has no clothes situation.

      In a vacume, some of the bangle designs were good, others not so good.

      The Z4 was a mess of shapes that never really worked quite right even though it was interesting.

      Bangle was successful in that he broke the industry out a rut. Everybody was making slab sided 300C looking cars with swaths of flat, boring steel.

      Hyundai and S class looked good at first, but they now look dated even before the five year production cycle is ended.

      Fine line between timeless and fashionable.

    16. 04-16-2012 03:09 PM #16
      Maybe, but his cars won't be remembered.

      "Beauty is forever" (think Ferrari 250 GTO).

      Not the previous 7 Series and 5 Series, 10, 20 or 30 years from now.

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      04-16-2012 03:16 PM #17
      I just left these here....




      You can keep your flames....
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      04-16-2012 03:18 PM #18
      The E60 and E65 is now looking 10x better to me than when they first came out. Like it or not, ever since Bangle redesigned BMW's sales have surged..

    19. 04-16-2012 03:18 PM #19
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      04-16-2012 03:20 PM #20
      His designs only had an impact because he worked for BMW and the majority of car designers are so uncreative they copied the flame surfacing and Bangle-butt to their cars could look more like BMWs. If he had tried that with a less-aspirational brand nobody in their right mind would have copied those design details. They were different for the sake of being different but he got away with it because of the power of the BMW brand
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      04-16-2012 03:21 PM #21
      Quote Originally Posted by Dieselstation View Post
      and he was eventually fired from BMW from all the backlash.
      working on your own version of history to make your post seem more legitimate?

      edit. notice you updated your post. He resigned. There was no backlash.

    22. Member Dieselstation's Avatar
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      04-16-2012 03:23 PM #22
      Quote Originally Posted by TBT-Syncro View Post

      edit. notice you updated your post. He resigned. There was no backlash.
      ohh.. there WAS backlash.
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      04-16-2012 03:25 PM #23
      Considering how many buyers swap cars after only a few years or just lease I feel the flame surfacing hate is unjusitifed.

      It is not an issue or concern to BMW that those who can only afford a 10-20 year old BMW don't like the the new cars.
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      04-16-2012 03:27 PM #24
      I think it's been known for some time that Bangle's design language is the basis for the design of many current cars. That doesn't meain that I don't think the e65 7 series or similar era 6 series aren't horribly ugly. They will always be ugly to my eye. Even the e60 5 series is questionable in my mind. I personally prefer the current 5 and 7 series to the previous gen of both cars.

      Having said that, I have always thought the z4, another Bangle design, was an excellent looking car. IMO, that's Bangle's best utilization of his own design language.

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      04-16-2012 03:34 PM #25
      Quote Originally Posted by 2.0T_Convert View Post
      Considering how many buyers swap cars after only a few years or just lease I feel the flame surfacing hate is unjusitifed.

      It is not an issue or concern to BMW that those who can only afford a 10-20 year old BMW don't like the the new cars.
      Your first and second statements seem to be contradictory. If a large % of BMW buyers lease, I would argue most people complaining about the styling are probalby able to "afford' their new cars. Although most people that want to lease a base 3-Series because of the badge will buy it regardless of what the car looks like, which is why Bangle was able to get away with what he did
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      04-16-2012 03:42 PM #26
      Quote Originally Posted by Dieselstation View Post
      ohh.. there WAS backlash.
      TCL and whiny bloggers dont count. BMW growth happened under his watch, and he's given a huge amount of credit for this internally.

      p.s. Business Week brought up the flame 'copying' 3 years ago, you're quite late to the party on this one.

    27. 04-16-2012 03:43 PM #27
      Quote Originally Posted by TBT-Syncro View Post
      TCL and whiny bloggers dont count. BMW growth happened under his watch, and he's given a huge amount of credit for this internally.

      p.s. Business Week brought up the flame 'copying' 3 years ago, you're quite late to the party on this one.
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      04-16-2012 03:44 PM #28
      Quote Originally Posted by Avus View Post
      I just left these here....




      You can keep your flames....
      I think Bangle was responsible for both designs. Incidently, there is very little flame surfacing on that 2010 model. Bangle-Butt yes, but little or no flames. I do agree that the older model is way better looking, however.

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      04-16-2012 04:02 PM #29
      Quote Originally Posted by Dave Zero View Post
      The Z4 was a mess of shapes that never really worked quite right even though it was interesting.

      Bangle was successful in that he broke the industry out a rut. Everybody was making slab sided 300C looking cars with swaths of flat, boring steel.
      Quote Originally Posted by 6cylVWguy View Post
      Having said that, I have always thought the z4, another Bangle design, was an excellent looking car. IMO, that's Bangle's best utilization of his own design language.
      I found the Z4 the most successful design of that era, and easily one of my favorite modern designs. It's why I've owned two. Radical designs seem to work better on small cars/coupes since people are used to sports cars looking unusual, I think.

      Let's remember that it's pretty much only car sites like this and buff mags that found his designs controversial or outrageous. Bangle's job was to draw new buyers to BMW, whose sales were stagnating, in part due to their ultra-conservative designs. BMW had record sales during the Bangle design era and their age demographic went down 10 years - his designs brought in new money and new buyers. That success is why so many other companies bought into flame surfacing.

      His true legacy is that people now talk about BMW design. I don't recall anyone, even BMW fan sites, talking about it before - the discussion was always about the latest engines and handling characteristics but they were all the same industrial-looking 3-box shape in black. There was the occasional blip - the flares on the E30 M3 which people accepted due to pedigree, the Z3 coupe that was pretty much hated - but for the most part the average person the E34, E36, E38, E46 and E39 blurred together.
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      04-16-2012 04:06 PM #30
      Quote Originally Posted by thetopdog View Post
      Your first and second statements seem to be contradictory. If a large % of BMW buyers lease, I would argue most people complaining about the styling are probalby able to "afford' their new cars. Although most people that want to lease a base 3-Series because of the badge will buy it regardless of what the car looks like, which is why Bangle was able to get away with what he did
      The hate of flame surfacing seems to always stem from the fact people say the cars will look outdated down the road.

      In which case if all you do is move from one lease or car to another then no need to worry. Since BMW is in the business of selling or leasing out new cars or recent CPO vehicles from a dealer view then the worries of people worshiping a 15 year old car are meaningless.

      And for the record at this point it doesn't really matter since BMW has decided to just follow the Audi sausages of different length look.
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    31. 04-16-2012 04:16 PM #31


      Interesting?, yes. Beautiful and timeless like an E-type?, I don't know.

    32. 04-16-2012 04:18 PM #32
      Bangle's designs are horrible; it doesn't matter if 98% of the world loves it, it's still horrible.

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      04-16-2012 04:29 PM #34
      I believe he did. He revolutionized auto designs like it or not. His BMW's while not pretty were pretty polarizing and all manufacturers started copying his design elements. Flame surfacing, high rear end, stretch out head/tail lights, Idrive, sweeping dashboards etc.

      You can say that he forced car makers to take more design risks. See Acura, Mercedes,Lexus, even Hyundai.

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      04-16-2012 04:30 PM #35
      Some more Bangle designs.






      Apparently he does not do vehicles any longer, after almost 30 years I can understand how he'd want a change.
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