Chris Bangle Takes His Butt and Leaves BMW

Four Wheel Drift’s Sam Barer with Chris Bangle at the Pininfarina Rolls-Royce Hyperion launch at Pebble Beach in August, 2008

Our friends over at Keith Martin’s Sports Car Market just broke the news that Chris Bangle is leaving his post as Chief of Design at BMW. American-born Bangle has led design at the German company since 1992 and has overseen the look and feel of all its current products.

Bangle is best known for the controversial multi-angle rear treatment on the 2002 BMW 745i, which journalists nicknamed “The Bangle Butt.” Love it or hate it, the edgy style was adopted by almost every other major automaker. We found that specific 745i to look muscular and bold from most angles…and from the driver’s seat, quite honestly, it was the most comfortable and best performing large sedan we’d ever driven.

When Four Wheel Drift staff met up with Bangle at the unveiling of the Pininfarina Rolls-Royce Hyperion during the Pebble Beach Concours weekend this past summer, we found him to be smart, warm, funny, stylish, and exactly as quirky as you’d want your design head to be. When we remarked about how we have always found it unconscionable that so many other journalists found themselves unable to accept the Bangle Butt and credit it with influencing current offerings from automakers world-wide, Bangle simply smiled and said “If I was smart I would have trademarked that phrase: ‘Bangle Butt’.”

Tireless and hyper-competitive, the still quite young Bangle designs everything from cars to neckties, so don’t expect to see him fully retire. We do wonder, though, if this means that BMW NA Museum boss Paul Ianaurio will need to find another co-driver for vintage rallies. Ianaurio and Bangle have been notorious for winning vintage rally events in classic BMWs (laughing and joking the whole way despite competitive desires in both men to win.) We’re going to email Ianaurio and offer our services.

The team at and The Four Wheel Drift know that the world hasn’t heard the last of Chris Bangle or seen the last of his groundbreaking and controversial designs.


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