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In my previous post we looked at the comic ugliness that was the Dodge Neon Expresso. Now you might think I’m picking on the American auto industry, but no, there is barely a car manufacture in existence that hasn’t put out a concept car that could have truly ended their business.

BMW, for example, is one of the premier car manufactures today. The 3 series has been the darling of the compact executive class of cars for years. There’s the 5 series, the 1 series, the X3 and X5. For people who can afford it, the M series has tweaked performance to even higher levels. No matter how you look at it, BMW is a pretty successful car company.

However, back in the 90’s, their management felt that the accusation they made one sausage in 3 lengths was getting just a bit to close to the truth (remember the 3, 5 and 7 series?). They needed something new, or rather, someone new. Enter Chris Bangle. Now, Chris is probably a nice guy. He wanted to shake things up. And he did.

Big time.

In 2001 he created the xCoupe and ushered in the flame surfacing “design language.” Good God. At a stroke he took the elegance that BMW had matured over the years a threw it down the toilet. The pictures look bad, but the xCoupe was apparently even worse in real life. Curves and angles crash into each other. The traditional kidney shaped grill has some weird corrugated filler. The sills have angles and shapes that are completely unnecessary. And then there’s the rear. It has a bunch of angles and lines that are just garish compared the the bulbous front end.

The rear section tipped up like a kind of reverse hatchback. Now if it was a mid engined car that might have made some sense, but it wasn’t. There weren’t even any seats in the back. So the reverse hatchback thing was just so you could put your shopping in the back. And just to keep things interesting only half the rear tipped up!

This car put shock and awe on the map long before the US Air Force got to Iraq. In fact, it’s taken BMW ten years to regain any of their former style.

What do you think? Another ten years and they’ll be back to the one sausage-three lengths thing? Or has flame surfacing really changed them forever? And can you think of another manufacturer that’s been hit with the Bangle stick?


(images courtesy of BMW)


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