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Men of the Years: Every Automobile Magazine Man of the Year Since 1990

2003: Chris Bangle

Head of Design for BMW

The driving force behind the controversial 7 Series and 6 Series…and the “Bangle Butt”

In his words: “No other design leader has web sites filled with vitriolic personal criticism or sites where one can sign an electronic petition asking his employees to fire him. Why all that acrimony? The way we see it is it just because he is doing his job properly…Car design has been fairly stagnant for a fairly long time, with popular past models reiterated again and again….BMWs were in that class before Bangle’ they are erupting from it now under Bangle’s strong, dare we say, vital influence.”
What happened next: Bangle’s creations–the 1, 3, 5, 6, and 7 Series, the X3, X5, and X6, among other things–earned their fair share of criticisms (the term “Bangle Butt” was added to the lexicon in the early 2000s), and their fair share of sales; BMW passed Mercedes-Benz in sales while Bangle was at the helm of the design studio. Successor Adrian van Hooydonk has tempered some of Bangle’s more controversial lines since Bangle’s departure from BMW in 2009, but his touch is still seen in nearly every Roundel-badged car sold today.