Watch 1977 BMW 7-Series Morph Into The 2016 G11 And Get A Load Of That Schnoz

What a better way to see how the BMW 7-Series transformed over the years than a video that morphs through six generations and 38 years of development?

After watching the video, you’d be right to say that some of the biggest sticking points are how much BMW’s flagship has grown and fattened up and how it lost its sporty (for a car in this segment) edge after Chris Bangle’s E65 generation, but I have another gripe too: the double kidney grille.

BMW went from a super elegant and understated double front piece on the original, shark-nose E23 7-Series built from 1977 through 1986, to a monstrous grille on the new G11 – so much so that it would be closer to reality if they called it a pig snout…

Not the most scientific method – actually, far from it, but with a tape lying around on the office desk, I measured the ratio of the grille to the car’s overall width at around 1:6 for the E23 and a whopping 1:2 for the G11! It’s so damn big that it makes Bangle’s droopy-eyed 7er look unassuming, and that says a lot about the new G11’s fascia.

Will BMW ever reverse this trend? Probably, as styles eventually go out of fashion, but for now, the firm’s concepts point to even bigger and bolder pig-snouts in the future.

Note: BMW skipped the new 7s rear at the end of the video – that or the creator couldn’t tell the difference between the two


  • g

    Lol finally a non-bmw “worshipping” official blog post on the internet, did pigs just fly lol….

  • Six Thousand Times

    Blame China for the really large kidneys. They love big grilles out that way.

    • emjayay

      Probably, but did Audi start it because of China or just because Audi?

      • TheBelltower

        Had nothing to do with China. Audi started with the big grilles when Europe mandated changes to the front end of cars for pedestrian safety rules.

        • Six Thousand Times

          Well, no. The Audi A6 (C6) debuted in 2004 and was designed well before European pedestrian safety laws were enacted. In Audi’s case, it may not have only been China as they started messing around with larger mouths on concepts stylistically to mimic the Auto Union racer or the 1930s.

          • TheBelltower

            Perhaps I got some bum info then. From what I understand, the pedestrian regs were in the works for some time, and the automakers knew about this. The B7 A4/S4 sedan and cabrio were slightly modified B6’s that had their hoods elongated and raised slightly to accommodate these regulations. The launch of the C6 A6 didn’t launch at precisely the same time as the new regulations, but the C6 had a shelf-life of seven years. They had to design the car to be in compliance with regulations that they knew were inevitable.

          • Six Thousand Times

            You may be a little right. The C6, though, had to have its design frozen in about 2002 so I’m not sure how much of the regulations Audi could have guessed about.

          • Carmaker1

            Correct, you are quite on point about the C6. This C6 A6 sketch below by Satoshi Wada was drawn in 2002 and you can see it is very much finished, there’s a reason for that.

            Design development of the C6 A6 began in 1999, with a final design freeze in 2001 (C5 A6 was frozen circa June 1994). If you remember, the D3 A8 debuted in 2002 without the single frame grille nor did the second generation A3 in 2003.

            The D3 A8 was a design reached in December 1999 and frozen by June 2000 (quite late for an Audi). The D3 A8L W12 with the Single Frame Grille was signed-off in 2001, launched in early 2004, and made standard by late 2005 on all 2006 model year A8s.

            The previous generation A3 itself was designed in 2000, being frozen in early 2001. The A3 Sportback received the newer grille in 2004, which was a last minute design effort in 2002.

            The B7 was mostly designed in 2002, being final by early 2003. The rear of the B7 terribly affected BMW’s E90 design, as BMW was forced to expensively revise it in record time during 2003 (B7 and E90 suppliers hinted at similarities).

            The Single Frame Grille was likely a solution enacted by Peter Schreyer circa 2000, as he was responsible for all Audi design through 2002. The regulations would not have been in place by 1999-2000, but did start taking hold in the mid-2000s.

          • Carmaker1

            Those early 2000s concepts were developed after the C6 design, mostly previewing Audi’s new design direction.

  • TheBelltower

    The front of the 7 has been getting piggier and piggier since Bangle. The grille is the snout and the vertical slats are nose hairs. Headlights with eyebrows make it look even more cartoonish. It’s astonishing that the designers settled on this. The E38 was the heyday of the 7 series. It was menacing without trying to look like a pissed warthog.

    • Ilbirs
    • Six Thousand Times

      And when introduced, the E38 was roundly criticised as being a conservative step back from the successful E32. Plus ça change…

      • TheBelltower

        I could certainly see why. They looked practically identical. Though in my opinion, the E38 remains more modern and stately than any model that came after it.

        • Carmaker1

          I agree, it is best interpretation of the 7-Series and I always loved it growing up. I still today and it is one car that still makes my head turn around. A W220 S-Class doesn’t do it the same way. My mother owned a 2001 740iL Highline Sport until about 9 years ago, which was a 40th birthday gift from my father in 2000.

          It was the most composed, tech-laden car I had come in contact with back then and I was struck with awe when I first laid my eyes on it, that very morning of December 27, 2000. I preferred it over my father’s X308 Jaguar (XJ8) Vanden Plas S/C at the time.

          I unfortunately lost out on having it as a first car when it was sold, after a 2006 760Li (E66) replaced it. Her father did have a E32 750iL, but I never really grew to appreciate the E32 until recently in adulthood. As a kid, I very much favoured newer “rounded” designs in the 1990s, as it helped distinguish “new” from “old”.

          Ironically enough, much of the E38 design process reached a climax as I came into this world, even though I remember flipping through a 7-Series back in late 1994 as a kid when it was just introduced and admired the E34 5er.

          Shows you how long development takes, that a kid can admire a brand-new car that was designed when he was born. I still regret the day I let my parents sell it off, as they still have the Jaguar and today she owns a white ’13 760Li Individual 25.

      • Carmaker1

        Yep, right you are again. All three BMW mainline redesigns in 1994, 1995 and 1998 “E38, E39, and E46” received the same criticism. Both the E38 and E39 5-Series were mostly designed without a chief designer present. The E38 design programme began in 1989 under the late Claus Luthe, with directives of “evolution” and the new rounded-off design trend. He stepped down not long after that.

        It is said that during May 1990 and September 1992, many radical BMW design proposals were rejected outside of the design department by condescending BMW engineers and accountants, over cost and complexity. According to E38 designer Boyke Boyer, It was a very rough period for BMW designers prior to Bangle’s arrival in 1992.

        The E38 was the biggest project at BMW during that rough period (36 months from 1991 concept to production in 1994), being in its final wrap-up by October 1, 1992 when Bangle arrived. E38 prototypes were testing since early 1992. Design freeze was in 1991.

        The E32 received a facelift (LCi II) in early 1992 (MY1993 in US) hinting at the E38’s standard wider grille (no longer V12-only). The E36 of 1990 previewed that grille as well and also encased headlights, being designed by Boyke Boyer as well (with late input by Joji Nagashima).

        Bangle arrived during the last months of design development on the E39 5-Series. He was present at final design freeze in Q1 of 1993, but not there during E39 concept definition and selection in mid-1992. The Z3 roadster design was developed in tandem during 1992-93 and a very taxing effort (Joji Nagashima designed both E39 and Z3). The shot of the red Z3 clay model is from 1992, with Nagashima being interviewed in 1995 (photos below).

        With the last one (E46 saloon, designed in 1995-photo below), little did the media and critics know that Bangle was cooking up a design storm back in March 1998. Design of the E65 had started in early 1997 and by the summer of 1998, Adrian van Hooydonk 7-Series design was pretty much finished.

        Here’s an early sketch by Adrian van Hooydonk from the early days of the E65 design competition in 1997. Compare that to his 1998 sketch of the E65, his 1999 sketch of the final production model, and running production car in 2001. See the differences?

        Engineering challenges and lack of time made for a very ugly E65 body by final freeze in January 1999. Adrian van Hooydonk’s concept for the E65 was now somewhat bastardized by the production version over packaging accommodations.

        Wolfgang Reitzle (former BMW executive) had planned to “correct it” later during 1999, but left in early February of that year over board politics. It is a such shame that Reitzle left BMW, as he did so much for BMW. Both Reitzle and Bangle had such a massive effect on this company, that they should have stayed.

        They let their egos get the most of them, when not everyone was 100% onboard with their plans, and stormed out (exactly 10 years apart: February 1999 and February 2009). If not for Reitzle and Bangle, Land Rover may not exist today like Rover. The L322 Range Rover further propelled our brand into the stratosphere.

    • PB

      It shows on the current 3 Series really well with its lumpy nose profile.

  • Ilbirs

    Am I the only one who mentally heard this song along this video?

  • B B

    this new ‘pissing warthog’ is clearly for china.

  • E38 is best

  • TheHake

    Damn that Bangle BMW gets uglier and uglier. Who would have thought it possible?

  • Vassilis

    The third generation was the prettiest

  • Car Design Fan

    It reminds me of the “80’s celebrities – how they look now” threads on the internet:

    from an athletic, young sexy model, through a conservative, yet distinguished grownup, and finally – the “you won’t recognize him/her” old, fat, miss piggy snout, drawn eyebrows, double chinned and ridiculous lip botox ex celebrity. Google John Travolta for an example…

    The second generation, 1987 I think, is far the best in my opinion.

  • Carmaker1

    I find it unfortunate that BMW purposely chose to use late examples of the E32, E38, and F01/02 alongside the original E23 (pre-1983 LCi) and ugly original (pre-LCi) E66 760Li. They should all be original (first of the run) examples, not “end of the run”.

    The E32 was introduced in 1986 (750i/L in 1987), but it wasn’t as sporty looking as that 1992-1994 LCi 750iL above in rare M-Sport grade (see below) nor did it have dual airbags (no passenger airbag until later) and sport seats.

    The E38 750iL looked like this in 1994-95, not like the LCi example (ver. 1) in the video above sold from September 1998-March 2000. The F02 LCi is not representative of the 2008-12 versions, like the new G12 will be for 2015-2019.

    I can understand using “originals” wouldn’t have worked, as morphing from generation to generation, BMW designers usually take elements from LCi versions and put them into the future model. The connection is better between the predecessor’s facelift and incoming generation than that of the pre-facelift predecessor.

    Some elements of the E23 LCi (1983-1986, see below), went into the E32 during design development in 1982-83. Likewise with the E32 LCi-to-E38 in 1990-91 (see photos), E38 LCi-to-E65 in 1998, E65 LCi-to-F01 in 2005-06 (see photos), and F01 LCi-to-G11 in 2011-12 (seen in video).

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