Nobody likes the pre-Bangle BMW’s. The general public thinks they look old and boring, as evidence by all my friends/family who disappointingly replied, “Oh, you bought a really old BMW???” when I proudly showed them my E46 (which was only one generation old at the time).
But what about enthusiasts? Well, I have a car photography page on IG (@knutemotorsport) with over 61K followers, and I posted several polls on my story yesterday: E38 vs E66, E39 vs E60, and E46 vs E92. Result?
E38 (56%) E66 (44%)
E39 (28%) E60 (72%)
E46 (24%) E92 (76%)
I bet those results surprise you. Partly because the beloved E39/E46 got spanked, but mostly because the Bangle Butt 7-Series...yes, that 7-Series...only barely lost to the E38. You clowns keep telling me that the E38 is supposed to be distilled essence of Jesus, while the E66 is the bastard spawn of Satan. And yet, not only was it a near-tie, but the E66 originally held the lead for the first 6 hours after the poll went live.
Now, here’s the interesting part: my followers overwhelmingly fall in the 18-34 age group. Aka, younger Millennials and GenZ...people who grew up during/after Chris Bangle’s time at BMW. Thus, they had no preconceptions of “what a BMW should look like,” and just accepted Bangle’s flame surfacing as normal and contemporary.
And whether or not you think the pre-Bangle designs are handsome, you simply can’t deny just how old they look. The E60 looks 20 years younger than the E39. It looks two generations newer, not just one. It could even be confused for a brand new car to the untrained eye.
So what’s the deal? Why do old enthusiasts like the look of old BMW’s? Is it because everything in the 90's looked boring and BMW’s were the least boring? I just don’t get it. I’d take an “overstyled” i8 over the painfully dull E39 M5 any day.