1960s: Birth of the Hofmeister Kink

James Kraus

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BMW 3200 CS.

Two new BMWs debuted at the Frankfurt Motor show in September of 1961, the 3200 CS by Bertone and the Neue Klasse 1500 sedan, styled in-house by a team led by Wilhelm Hofmeister with the assistance of Giovanni Michelotti. 

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BMW 1500.

Both the 3200 Coupé and the 1500 featured a C-pillar design with a forward-leaning kink at the bottom. Such a feature was not unique; vaguely similar designs had been cropping up on earlier models, notably the 1949 General Motors fastbacks: the Buick Sedanet, Cadillac Coupes, Chevrolet Fleetlines, Oldsmobile Futuramic Club and Town Sedans and Pontiac Streamliners.

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1949 Cadillac.

Two years later, an analogous C-pillar shape appeared on the new Kaiser.

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1951 Kaiser.

The Fiat 600 of 1955 featured yet another version.

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Fiat 600.

In early 1959, Ford introduced their new Galaxie, distinguished from lesser models by a new Thunderbird-inspired roofline with broad, flat C-pillars. The Galaxie added a new fillip lacking on the Thunderbird however. Town Victoria models gained a new forward kink at the leading edge.

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1959 Ford Galaxie Town Victoria.

Galaxie (and a few Mercury) four-door hardtops would retain this feature through 1964.

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1964 Ford Galaxie 500 Four-Door Hardtop.

For 1960, Chrysler Corporation added a kinked C-pillar roofline to two-door Dodge and Plymouth hardtops.

1960 Plymouth Fury Two-Door Hardtop.

Meanwhile two Italian carrozzeria were exploring forward-kink C-pillars. Pininfarina utilized them on the 1960 Ferrari 250 GTE and the very similar Lancia Flavia Coupé of 1961.

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Ferrari 250 GTE.

Just nine months prior to the debut of their BMW 3200 CS, Bertone unveiled their Aston Martin DB4 GT Jet at the Geneva Salon. Chiefly the work of a young Giorgetto Giugiaro, the Jet previewed the C-Pillar shape that would soon appear on the 3200 CS and all future BMWs.

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Aston Martin DB4 GT Jet.

For 1963, the Oldsmobile Starfire debuted a new formal roofline with a kinked leading edge.

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1963 Oldsmobile Starfire.

While Chrysler Corporation added a similar design to standard-size Dodges and Plymouths.

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1963 Plymouth Fury.

While other manufacturers were content to dabble in kinked C-pillars, BMW decided to go all in and make the distinctive shape a hallmark of the brand.

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BMW 2000 CS.

In the summer of ’65, BMW replaced the 3200 CS with a new Coupé based on the Neue Klasse platform. The new model incorporated the C-pillar bend of the 1500 Sedan and 3200 Coupé, now referred to by some as the Hofmeister Kink.

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BMW 1600.

In March of 1966 BMW launched the soon to be iconic 02 Series, based on a shortened Neue Klasse platform. Once again, a Hofmeister Kink was part of the package.

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BMW 2500.

By now a firmly established tradition; to no one’s surprise, the Kink embellished the Neue Six line of 1968, the final all-new BMW of the decade. The New Six also featured quad headlamps, which would soon become another key BMW styling cue.

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Current 5-Series (G30).

Five decades on, the Hofmeister Kink still graces BMW products.

5 thoughts on “1960s: Birth of the Hofmeister Kink

  1. Last but not least (and not last either), Glas’s own H-Kink. Which helped when the company was taken over… by BMW.

  2. I think that the HK looked great on Sixties or Seventies BMWs because it was first designed to encapsulate the propeller logo, then because the rear window’s baseline was level with the rear window’s own. I cannot find the same combination on other cars featured here, even later BMWs, except surprisibly perhaps the Fiat 600. Maybe it’s just a matter of proportions, too and BMW’s design was remarkable in that sense.

  3. One early example of a prominent forward-leaning kink is the Peugeot 203 Coupé, a rather rare model, of which 955 were produced. But the sawcut-like kink, which was intended to give a touch of class to this higher-end version of a family car, seemed out-of-place on the curvy 203.

  4. Unexpectedly, the VW 411, too, in some way. Magnified on the Lancia Beta berlina.

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