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.
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.
Two years later, an analogous C-pillar shape appeared on the new Kaiser.
The Fiat 600 of 1955 featured yet another version.
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.
Galaxie (and a few Mercury) four-door hardtops would retain this feature through 1964.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Five decades on, the Hofmeister Kink still graces BMW products.