There are not too many car designers that are known worldwide, Aston Martin and Jaguar shared Ian Callum, Lamborghini has Wolfgang Egger and Ferrari had Frank Stephenson. However perhaps the best known car designer of recent times has been BMW’ Chris Bangle. The man who invented the ‘Bangle Butt’.

However his time at BMW is now over, with Mr Bangle having left “to pursue his own design-related endeavours beyond the auto industry“, a spokesman at BMW said today.

For the time being Adrian van Hooydonk, current head of design for BMW, will take over Mr Bangle’s position.

“Christopher Bangle has had a lasting impact on the identity of BMW Group’s brands. His contribution to the company’s success has been decisive,” said Klaus Draeger, BMW’s development chief, in a statement.

Mr Bangle, 52, is an America-born car designer who joined BMW in 1992 and began a revolution to bring BMW’s designs into the modern age.

Although many (including Car Advice) have criticised Mr Bangle’s distinctive themes, his styling has proved a commercial success for BMW. Mr Bangle in part led to BMW overtaking rival Mercedes-Benz as the global No. 1 premium brand by unit sales in 2006.

chris bangle

Despite leaving the company, the Bangle design philosophy will still be in the works for some time yet as already signed-off future models will still be built.

Chris Bangle first started his automotive design career at General Motor’s German subsidiary Opel. He later joined Fiat in 1985 where he successfully became head of Fiat’s styling centre before leaving for BMW.

His portfolio includes the current BMW 3-, 5- and 7-Series plus the Z3, X5 and X3. Mr Bangle was also influential in projects for BMW Group’s Mini and Rolls-Royce vehicles.

His replacement, Mr Van Hooydonk has been hard at work on BMW’s upcoming Progressive Activity Sedan. He has also had input on the 6- and 7-Series and Z9 and CS concept cars.

More on Chris Bangle.

  • CB

    He was criticised however people forget he was responsible for the E46 3, and E39 5 which is still my favourite car design to date.

    BTW unlike many, I love the look of the 6 series and previous 7 series.

    So in my eyes he’ll be missed!


    Whats the bet he ends up at another “german” brand as he would have a wealth of detail on upcoming BMW projects.

    If he does open up his own studio, first jobs will be for those other german brands.

    Anyway, i appreciate his strong will to take a new style theme and run with it



  • Tom

    I love his designs, honeslty people can criticise all they want, BMW’s have always had a flair that Mercedes just couldn’t match. The M6 is quicky but aggressive, i love the Z4 coupe, and i didn’t realise the E39 was a Bangle design… it is probably the most classically correct car BMW ever made

  • Bavarian Missile (.)(.)

    Totally agree Tom,love him or hate him hes done a lot for BMW.

    Last years Gina concept was unreal !

    Where is he off too?

  • Tim

    Just for you BM, it was in the first paragraph:

    “to pursue his own design-related endeavours beyond the auto industry“, a spokesman at BMW said today”

  • Erik F

    CB: E39 is the work of Joji Nagashima. He also designed E36, Z3 and E90.

  • Alex

    I liked the previous 7 Series. It was awkward and a bit ugly but at least it was different to the standard S Class, the boring A8 and the fake wood filed Lexus. In that class, I have an XJ and I always would but the seven would be my second choice I think.
    I’m not a massive fan of the 1 Series, the X3 or the 6 Series. I like all the 3 Series, 5 Series, Z4s and X5s he’s done though.
    My biggest problem with him is that he never designed anything beautiful and I miss beautiful BMWs. He only made handsome cars. They were all well proportioned which is something a lot of sedans can’t pull of these days though.
    He had a lot to do with modern car design and I am a bit sad to hear he’s going out of the car design business all together but I am much more interested in seeing where BMW will go now.

  • Rob

    Bangle wasn’t always loved but he did make a rather boring BMW, controversial for once.

  • Bavarian Missile (.)(.)

    Thanks Tim . Should have read it closer .

  • jamie

    Was the controversial E46 Compact designed by him?
    I find it attractive actually.

  • Brian Davis