Automotive design Frank Stephenson, who we had on the podcast awhile back, was responsible for penning a couple of BMW’s most important cars of the late ’90s and early ’00s. For starters, he designed the 1999 MINI, the first ever MINI to come from the BMW Group. He also designed the first-generation BMW X5, a car that still looks great today and one of the most important cars in the history of BMW because it launched the brand into the world of highly-profitable SUVs. Now, BMW has about eleventy-five SUVs on sale, all thanks to the original X5.
In his newest video, Stephenson talks about the three greatest BMW designs of all time. While BMW has made some great looking cars in its history, it’s never really been known for truly beautiful designs, in the way that Jaguar, Aston Martin, or Ferrari are. Instead, BMWs have typically always been cars that look good but drive better. You buy a BMW because of how it drives, not necessarily how it looks.
However, if you look back at BMW’s long history, there are a few car designs that stand out as truly beautiful and Stephenson talks about them in this video; the original BMW M1, the E9 BMW 3.0 CS, and the BMW 507. He breaks down each design and why each is so good looking. There are also a couple of honorable mentions in there, which are actually cars that usually don’t get a lot of design love (though I personally think two of them are some of the best looking cars BMW ever made).
BMW has certainly lost its way, in terms of design, with many of its current cars only vaguely resembling BMWs. The new BMW M3 Competition, as brilliant as it is to drive, could wear a Lexus grille and badge and no one would question it. So it’s good to see some of these classic BMW designs and how they used the brand’s iconic design cues so well.