Design classics don’t become older. They become more timeless.

The design of BMW has never been directed towards standards – instead it sets them. Through the consistent further development of evolved values. On the basis of its own history and its own fundamental convictions. With the aspiration to have a style-forming impact on the current epoch. Through pioneering ideas.

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Take a trip through the decades of BMW Design.

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THE 1940S.

A new decade begins, and the BMW 328 continues to create a stir like no other roadster – both on and off the road. In addition to countless racing successes, it also sets other new standards: Its striking contours and integrated headlights combined with a systematic lightweight-design concept ensure that it remains a coveted collecter’s item to this day.

The BMW 328 Mille Miglia

Legendary lightweight construction.

  • 1940 – BMW 328 Mille Miglia

    The BMW 328 was one of the most successful sports cars of the 1930s. For the 1940 Mille Miglia, the roadster received a tailor-made, streamlined suit that made its mark in both design and racing history. Even the first designs conveyed pure dynamics and were to undergo further optimisation in the wind tunnel. The edges of the mudguards give the ‘Crease Roadster' its nickname. In the 1940 race, it is not only the design that inspires: the car finishes in third position, two places behind the BMW 328 Coupé.

THE 1950S.

A dominant aspect of the 1950s are the BMW 500 Series models, which develop into a mainstay of the company in the course of the decade. Highlights include the BMW 501 – the first BMW automobile to be built completely in Munich – and the ultra-exclusive BMW 507, which is crafted by hand in line with indivdual customer needs and wants.

The BMW 507

The ‘Dream of the Isar’.

  • 1955 – BMW 507 Roadster

    In 1955, BMW achieves a great success with the BMW 507: the dream roadster with its dynamic silhouette and its broad, flat kidney grille steals the show from the competition – and not only during its premier at the International Motor Show (IAA). The BMW 507 immediately captures the hearts of automobile fans. Its unrivalled elegance, the stylish hip swing and the air vent element on the side still serve as an inspiration for the BMW roadsters today. The low production run of only 252 models makes it one of the most valuable classic cars today.

  • 1951 – BMW 501

    In 1951, the BMW 501 – now affectionately called the Baroque Angel – was presented beneath the spotlights in plain black, with double kidney grille and air intakes. The first luxury sedan by BMW is also produced as a four-door convertible. Today the BMW 501 is regarded as one of the most beautiful historic BMW cars. With its sophisticated detailed solutions, precious materials and space for up to six people, the car with the classical styling amazes the public.

THE 1960S.

In the early 1960s, BMW presents the “New Class”. Its first member, the BMW 1500, is a completely new type of automobile: compact, sporty, versatile. This new concept immediately generates excitement, with orders outstripping production capacity. It is followed by other variants and models, which form the foundation of the current BMW family. The launch of the BMW 1500 also sees the debut of the Hofmeister kink. To this day, this counter curve in the window outline at the base of the rear roof pillar has appeared on almost every BMW.

The BMW 3.0 CSi.

The BMW cult car of the 1970s.

  • 1968 – BMW 3.0 CS

    The BMW 3.0 CS instantly inspired the public during its premiere in 1971. Because of its elegance and lightness, experts regard the coupé as one of the finest automobile designs of the 1970s. The design of this breathtaking coupé is characterised by dynamic proportions and elegant contours. For the first time, the BMW 3.0 CS exhibits all the characteristic BMW design features such as the kidney grille, double-round headlights, crease line and Hofmeister kink. Even today, it is still an important source of inspiration for the BMW designers.

  • 1966 − BMW 2002

    The design of the BMW 2002 shows at first glance what BMW means with the new slogan ‘From sheer driving pleasure’. The lightweight two-seater impresses with its intricately styled body, accentuated athleticism and compact design. Based on the successful ‘New Class’, the compact 02 Series emerges under Wilhelm Hofmeister in 1966 and BMW positions itself in the compact executive car segment. The most successful representative of the series is the BMW 2002. In terms of development history, it is the ancestor of the BMW 3 Series models.

  • 1965 – BMW 2000 CS

    In June 1965, the BMW 2000 CS is presented as a ‘comfortable touring car with a sporty heart for long journeys’. Its compact bodyshell and its light greenhouse create a very agile effect. The flat silhouette and the slightly rounded surfaces combine with the dynamic proportions to provide the sportiest statement within the ‘New Class’. This forms the basis for elegant BMW Coupés.

THE 1970S.

In the 1970s, BMW introduces series designations for the models that follow the ‘New Class’ – the first automobile manufacturer to do so. The BMW 5 Series makes its debut in 1972, marking a new design era characterised by sportiness, elegance and balance. This is followed in 1975 by the compact BMW 3 Series sport sedans, which are to become the company’s most frequently sold models. With the BMW 7 Series in 1977, BMW redefines the concept of luxury sedans and sets new standards in the fields of electronics and driving safety.

The BMW M1.

A sports car with profile.

  • 1978 – BMW M1

    In the late 1970s, BMW surprises the automotive world with a spectacular vehicle: the BMW M1. It is the first independent vehicle from BMW M GmbH and brings the entire motorsport experience of BMW onto the road. The BMW M1 is a super sports car that combines race-proven technology with everyday utility. With its flat silhouette and distinctive styling it captivates at first glance. In the Procar series specially established for the M1, it makes automobile history and today is a sought-after collector’s item.

  • 1972 – BMW 5 Series

    In 1972, the first BMW 5 Series makes its debut and, with it, the new model name. It becomes a synonym for unrivalled driving pleasure in the mid-size executive segment and since then has stood for the harmonious balance between driving dynamics and travelling comfort. The BMW 5 Series heralds the start of a new design era and reinterprets the classical BMW design features for the 1970s: the front surging forward demonstrates the high driving dynamics while the continuous crease line extends the length of the vehicle. Its clear shapes and the elegant interpretation of the three-box-design endow it with timeless aesthetics.

  • 1975 – BMW 3 Series

    The first BMW 3 Series in 1975 marks the beginning of a new success story for BMW. The 2-door sedan with a compact body and athletically elegant design soon becomes a benchmark in the sporty compact sedan segment. Based on the exterior design of the BMW 5 Series, the BMW 3 Series has a sportier and more compact appearance. One absolute novelty is the interior design. To achieve the best possible ergonomics, the cockpit is inclined towards the driver for the first time. The characteristic BMW driver orientation is born and becomes a typical feature of every BMW interior.

  • 1977 – BMW 7 Series.

    The BMW 7 Series in 1977 rounds off the BMW range of vehicles. Its design, above all the sporty front styling with the focused look, adds a new meaning to the term ‘sporting elegance’. Its stretched shapes and the dynamic proportions highlight its exceptional driving qualities. The BMW 7 Series reinterprets the crease line, displaying it for the first time as a sculpted intersection in metal with a shadow surface below. Numerous chrome elements underline the exclusivity and the high level of comfort in the BMW 7 Series.

THE 1980S.

In the 1980s, BMW expands its core model series in the form of the second-generation BMW 3 Series, BMW 5 Series and BMW 7 Series. This is accompanied by a series of exciting technical innovations. The BMW M3 brings genuine motorsport feeling to the street for the very first time and becomes the world’s most successful saloon car. And with its state-of-the-art technology, the BMW Z1, which is originally intended as an experimental design study only, becomes the legitimate successor to the legendary roadster from the 1930s and 1950s.

  • 1986 – BMW 7 Series

    The second-generation BMW 7 Series, as of 1986, is the beginning of a new form of design at BMW. Clear in outline, it creates an effect of elegance and lightness. Through the new styling, the BMW 7 Series acquires an appearance of greater modernity and even higher quality. Its contours become guiding principles for the following models, giving the BMW range a new and fresh appearance. Yet even in the second generation, kidney grille, double-round headlights, crease line and Hofmeister kink instantly identify the BMW 7 Series as a BMW. For the first time, the rear end contains the L-shaped rear lights that have been present ever since.

  • 1988 – BMW Z1 Roadster

    Originally presented purely as a technical study, the response to the BMW Z1 is so overwhelming that a decision is made to build it in a small production run. And so after just under 30 years, a roadster returns to the BMW model range. The BMW Z1 is a veritable driving machine. Its low front, the extended bonnet and the short overhangs show this clearly. As a special feature the foldaway doors were electrically retractable. They can also remain open during the journey and are reminiscent of the successful BMW Roadster tradition of previous years.

THE 1990S.

In the 1990s, BMW enjoys a series of ever-increasing success. New models such as the dynamic BMW 850 CSi Coupé or the BMW Z3 enrich the BMW line-up with their new, exciting design facets. In early 1999, BMW presents the BMW X5, a combination of BMW typical dynamics and an off-road vehicle with all-wheel drive. The BMW X5 not only pioneers its own vehicle segment, but is also destined to remain the most successful model for years to come.

  • 1998 – BMW 3 Series

    In 1998, the fourth generation of the BMW 3 Series sees the light of day. The compact sports sedan has grown up and displays this both in its luxurious interior and through the special quality of exterior surfaces. The fourth-generation BMW 3 Series shows an array of unmistakable BMW design features. The large, broad kidney grille is surrounded by the bonnet and presented like a jewel. Fine lines in the side add an elegant note to the typical sporting character of the BMW 3 Series.

  • 1994 – BMW 7 Series

    In 1994, the new BMW 7 Series points the way into the future of the luxury car segment. The firm contours and the stretched silhouette characterise the most elegant BMW 7 Series to date. Elegance and dynamism come together stylishly in the athletically slim body of the BMW 7 Series. Timeless surfaces encompass the vehicle. The low front and the gently sloping rear quote the appearance of earlier generations, harmoniously rounding off the proportions.

  • 1990 – BMW 8 Series

    The BMW 850i shows how BMW envisages a modern luxury coupé in 1990. It brings together a streamlined silhouette, dynamic proportions and a particularly high level of ride comfort. At the same time, the BMW 850i, which is fitted with the most powerful engine that BMW has to offer, is Bavarian engineering art at its finest. Its flat, dynamic design allows the onlooker to experience this artistry even when the vehicle is stationary.

  • 1995 – BMW Z3 Roadster

    In 1995, BMW ushers in a genuine roadster boom with the BMW Z3. Its mixture of dynamism and classical roadster feeling and, with James Bond behind the wheel, brings thrills to the cinema and beyond. The BMW Z3 is a typical BMW Roadster: kidney grille, double-round headlights, the long bonnet, the muscular front wheel arches and the side air vents, as in the legendary BMW 507, cause the hearts of all automobile fans to beat just that little bit faster.

THE 2000S.

New models for a new millennium. As of 2000, the entire model range is expanded to included new series and variants. In addition to the new version of the BMW 6 Series, BMW also offers the so-called Sports Activity Vehicles, in the form of the X variants. And with the BMW 1 Series in 2004, BMW makes its first-ever foray into the compact class.

  • 2004 – BMW 6 Series Coupé

    In its new edition of the BMW 6 Series models, BMW is picking up on the tradition of Gran Tourismo Coupés from the 1970s. With its sculptural design, it embodies the way in which BMW envisages modern luxury in a new millennium. The generous and powerfully arched surfaces have a precise and graceful design. A dynamically stretched silhouette is where the harmonious contours reach their logical perfection. From every angle, all lines and surfaces embrace the vehicle from the front to the rear.