Originally Posted by il ciclista
Im kind of a newb when it comes to terms on bmw's (raised a vw guy..family owned a perf. vw shop etcetc) what is "bangle era" I've read some of you mentioning?
Chris Bangle was the controversial head of BMW design for about 10 years, and moved BMW's design towards its current "flame surface" aesthetic. The first car released under his reign was the 2002 7-series, the last the 2006 3-series. HIs protege Adrian Van Hooydonk is the current head of design.
He's seen as controvesial because the old-school BMW enthusiasts hated the departure from the more conservative look the cars traditionally had (often referred to as "the same sausage in 3 diferent lengths"), but he achieved record sales (and they continue to rise) and moved their customer demographic to ~10 years younger.
In my opinion, both parties were right. The BMWs before are masterpieces of understated design, especially the E39 5-series and E38 7-series, but the company needed to move forward on the design front and the sales results speak for themselves. Even the debate is a positive - there was little to talk about as far as BMW design after the 8-series debuted. The Z3 coupe, while funky and interesting, doesn't reflect a design aesthetic, as it was simply cobbled together by engineers that wanted a Z3 that could be raced.