It might come as a surprise to some people, but the BMW E1 concepts from the early 1990s were not the first cars to carry this alphanumeric designation as there was an E1 Spider back in 1989. While the Z11-generation E1 from 1991 and the Z15-generation E1 introduced in 1993 – both developed by BMW Technik GmbH – were envisioned as small electric hatchbacks, this E1 Spider was a swoopy two-seater.

BMW Head of Design Domagoj Dukec shared on Instagram a couple of images depicting the obscure design study conceived nearly 35 years ago. Looking as if it’s floating, the E1 Spider took the “less is more” to the extreme by doing away with headlights, roof, and doors. From these angles, it looks as though it didn’t even have wheels.

Some might see a spaceship, others an E31, while yours truly thinks of a speedboat. The BMW V12-powered Italdesign Nazca C2 introduced at the 1992 Tokyo Motor Show with its sleek carbon fiber body also springs to mind. The minimalistic concept provides a striking contrast to some of the intricate (if not busy) designs available today. Hopefully, some of that purity will rub off onto future production models.

In fact, last year’s smooth-looking i Vision Dee might have hinted at a fresh and clean design language. The all-electric concept provided a window into the future of the Neue Klasse platform, which will premiere in 2025 with a sedan and a crossover in the 3 Series segment.

BMW is actually simplifying its designs already, but only on the inside. Most models have already transitioned to the iDrive 8, which declutters the dashboard by removing the vast majority of conventional controls and integrating their respective functions into the touchscreen. With the Neue Klasse, a new type of head-up display is expected to signal the next evolution of minimalism.

Speaking of which, BMW CEO Oliver Zipse believes big screens will be gone in a decade or so, mentioning they might be banned at some point in the early 2030s for being too distracting.

Source: Domagoj Dukec / Instagram