The Evolution of BMW Design: A Journey Through Iconic Models

The Evolution of BMW Design: A Journey Through Iconic Models

May 17, 2024

BMW’s design language has evolved significantly over the decades, reflecting changes in technology, consumer preferences, and automotive trends. This article takes you on a journey through the evolution of BMW design, highlighting iconic models and the key elements that define their aesthetic.

1. Early Years: The Birth of a Legend

BMW’s design journey began with the introduction of the BMW 3/15 in 1929, a small car that laid the foundation for the brand's future. However, it was the BMW 328, introduced in 1936, that truly marked BMW’s entry into the world of iconic design. The 328 featured a sleek, aerodynamic body that was ahead of its time and remains a classic today.

Key Features:

  • Streamlined, lightweight design.
  • Prominent kidney grilles, which would become a hallmark of BMW design.
  • Focus on performance and handling.

2. The Post-War Era: Rebuilding and Innovation

In the post-war period, BMW focused on rebuilding and innovating. The BMW 507, introduced in 1956, is one of the most iconic designs from this era. Designed by Albrecht von Goertz, the 507 was a beautiful roadster with a long hood, short rear deck, and a low-slung profile.

Key Features:

  • Elegant, curvaceous bodywork.
  • V8 engine providing impressive performance.
  • Limited production, making it a highly sought-after classic today.

3. The 1960s and 1970s: The Rise of the Sports Sedan

The 1960s and 1970s saw BMW establish itself as a leader in the sports sedan market. The BMW 2002, part of the Neue Klasse series, played a crucial role in this transformation. The 2002’s clean, boxy design, combined with its sporty performance, made it a hit among enthusiasts.

Key Features:

  • Simple, functional design with clean lines.
  • Emphasis on driving dynamics and performance.
  • Introduction of the "Hofmeister kink," a design feature in the rear window area that has become a BMW signature.

4. The 1980s and 1990s: Technological Advancements

The 1980s and 1990s were marked by technological advancements and a shift towards more aggressive, angular designs. The BMW E30 3 Series, introduced in the early 1980s, became an icon of this era. It combined sporty looks with advanced technology and solid performance.

Key Features:

  • Sharper, more angular design language.
  • Increased use of technology and electronics.
  • Introduction of various performance-oriented models, such as the M3.

5. The Turn of the Millennium: Modern and Dynamic

As BMW entered the new millennium, the design language became more dynamic and expressive. The BMW E60 5 Series, introduced in 2003, showcased a bold new design direction under the leadership of Chris Bangle. The E60 featured more sculpted lines and a distinctive "flame surfacing" design.

Key Features:

  • Bold, dynamic design with sculpted surfaces.
  • Integration of advanced technology and driver assistance systems.
  • Controversial but influential design that paved the way for future models.

6. The Present Day: Blending Tradition with Innovation

Today, BMW continues to innovate while respecting its design heritage. The latest models, such as the BMW G20 3 Series and the BMW i8, demonstrate a perfect blend of traditional elements and cutting-edge technology. The kidney grilles have evolved, the lines are sharper, and the focus on sustainability is evident.

Key Features:

  • Modern interpretation of classic design elements, such as the kidney grilles and Hofmeister kink.
  • Integration of sustainable materials and electric powertrains.
  • Advanced connectivity and driver assistance features.


BMW’s design evolution is a testament to the brand’s commitment to innovation and excellence. From the elegant lines of the 507 to the futuristic design of the i8, each era has brought unique contributions to the automotive world. As BMW continues to push the boundaries of design and technology, enthusiasts can look forward to many more iconic models in the future.

For more information and to explore our full range of BMW services and models, visit BMERC.

Cookie Consent

Please refer to our privacy policy for important information on the use of cookies. By continuing to use this website, you agree to this.