BMW has inducted one other idea automobile into its official assortment of historic automobiles. The ZBF-7er was a design research created within the mid-’90s to hone the concept of what a 7 Collection needs to be. It options a number of parts which are far forward of their time, because the accompanying video reveals.
The video interviews longtime BMW designer Joji Nagashima, a 30-plus-year veteran of BMW design, who designed the ZBF-7er along with the long-lasting E36 3 Collection, authentic Z3 roadster, E39 5 Collection and others. As Nagashima explains, ZBF stands for “Zukunft BMW Familie” or “Future BMW Household.” On the time, the group was attempting to ascertain the three, 5 and seven Collection because the model’s core household of autos.
Whereas these days could seem lengthy gone, the Siebener (7er in German) idea nonetheless predicted fairly a couple of traits which have appeared on BMW autos since. Maybe essentially the most noticeable trait is the large kidney grille, an enormous departure from the slim nostrils on the E38 that the ZBF would have changed. In fact, the elongated openings are tame in comparison with the controversial ones of the brand new M3/M4, however we suspect they’d’ve been fairly stunning in the event that they’d debuted in 2002.
The ZBF-7er is a big automobile. It is so huge, Nagashima says, that they could not discover manufacturing tires to suit onto the idea. On the time 19-inch wheels had been the utmost, so BMW needed to ask Dunlop to create customized 20-inch tires with hand-cut treads of Nagashima’s personal design.
The dimensions, which is described as greater than an E38, additionally meant that the aspect profile’s visible mass needed to be damaged up. As a result of Nagashima selected to eschew the flame surfacing strains and curves pioneered by BMW’s Chris Bangle, the vertical panel of the door is damaged up by a big chrome aspect scuttle.
The inside appears to be like dated immediately, however there are some attention-grabbing shapes on the dashboard, and supplies for a protracted middle console that extends between the rear seats. The picket door armrests and middle stack nearly look mid-century. Notably, there are cameras in lieu of aspect mirrors some 25 years earlier than they started showing on manufacturing automobiles. There’s additionally an early model of BMW’s iDrive system, however managed from the rear seats.
Nagashima additionally reveals one thing attention-grabbing concerning the totally drivable idea’s building. Moderately than some painted composite, the physique is totally hand-made of metallic. Even again when the ZBF-7er was constructed, this was already a dying artwork. Nevertheless, Nagashima says the artwork nonetheless exists in Italy. So, BMW constructed a full-size clay mannequin and shipped it to the Italian coachbuilders to hammer the physique out of aluminum — by hand. “I assumed it was nice,” Nagahima remembers. “Such a futuristic idea automobile executed in a technique which was very outdated and conventional.”
As historical past has proven, the ZBF-7er by no means made it to manufacturing as a successor to the E38. As a substitute, the world was launched to Bangle’s bustle-butt E65. Each had been an enormous departure from the E38, and the glimpse of this different chance makes us surprise how BMWs would have advanced if the powers that be had chosen the trail not taken. Then once more, your entire concept of the three/5/7 Collection being BMW’s core household has been tossed out the window, so maybe it is moot.