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Whats the BMW Hofmeister kink?

The Hoffmeister Kink (Hofmeister-Knick) is a prominent and unique BMW design feature which almost all the BMW models have in common. Just like the kidney grille, the Hofmeister kink is instantly associated with the brand. The kink is a visual design element that’s been featured on almost every model since the advent of the BMW Neue Klasse in 1961. Even other manufacturers have incorporated this design feature in their model lineup. It can easily be identified by the slight bent in the C-pillar and is named after Wilhelm Hofmeister, who was chief of design at BMW from 1955 - 1970.

The New Class coupes from 1962 - 1977 first saw the introduction of the Hofmeister kink, which has been used on most BMW cars since. It was first seen on the BMW 1500 and the 3200 CS, which premiered in 1961 at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Hofmeister Kink
The Hofmeister Kink first appeared on the 1961 BMW New Class 1500 Photo: BMW Group

Wilhelm Hofmeister (1912–1978) was BMWs design chief from 1955 to 1970 and was credited with the design of the BMW New Class and the Hofmeister kink. Though, the kink appeared already on other car brands before Hofmeister's work at BMW.

Wilhelm Hofmeister
Wilhelm Hofmeister (1912–1978) was BMW's design chief from 1955 - 1970. Photo: BMW Group

This design element was featured already on some 1949-model 2-door cars made by General Motors, including the Cadillac Club Coupe, Buick Sedanette, and Chevrolet Fleetline, as well as the 1958 Lancia Flaminia Sport Zagato and the 1961 Lancia Flavia Coupé.

1963 Lancia Flavia 1800 coupé
1963 Lancia Flavia 1800 coupé with a prominent Hofmeister Kink Photo:

In early models, the widened base of the C-pillar sometimes featured the BMW roundel, for example, with the BMW E9 range or the 2000 C and CS models.

BMW 3.0 CSL Batmobile
Hofmeister Kink on the BMW 3.0 CSL "Batmobile" with BMW rondel in the middle Photo: Daniel Martinek

Apart from its stylistic effect, the Hofmeister kink is said by BMW to suggest that all its models have rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive biased to the rear. Since the kink debuted in 1961, it appeared on almost all BMW models ever since.