Chris Bangle has retired as Head of BMW Design.
The 52-year old American has had a remarkable career. Even he could hardly have guessed that a mid-western lad (he's originally from Wisconsin) could have ended up as chief designer for two of the most famous automotive brands in the world - he came to BMW after a short stint running Fiat's design office.
Bangle, who has been one the more controversial automotive stylists of recent memory, will pursue design projects outside the auto industry.
He is perhaps best-known for the previous-generation 7 Series luxury sedan, whose unusual rear end treatment was instantly dubbed the "Bangle Butt" by detractors.
Bangle, who is as eloquent verbally as he is with a pencil, noted at the time that the trunk lid had to be so high for cargo space and aerodynamic reasons, the car could only be so long for length- and weight-conserving reasons, and there were only so many ways to get from A to B.
While the 7 did look unusual at the time, such as the subsequent Mercedes-Benz S Class and Lexus LS sedans proved that Bangle was in fact correct.
Or at least, not alone.
And while other models such as the Z4 roadster with its so-called 'flame surfacing' also drew more than their fair share of criticism, BMWs developed under his watch continued the company's obsession with maintaining family resemblance among models, without making them all look the same.
All other car companies envy BMW's ability to do this; none has succeeded to the same extent over a similar stretch of time.
And despite, or maybe because of, all the fuss, BMW has enjoyed unprecedented sales and profitability increases during his tenure.
Bangle was also the enabler of such dramatic design icons as the new Mini (penned by another American, Frank Stephenson), the new Rolls-Royce line-up, and several interesting motorcycle projects. Although how one does that I am not sure - wheel in front, wheel in back, engine in the middle, what else can you do?
Bangle was also among the most approachable of industry leaders, always ready to discuss design - or just about anything else.
He also apparently had an excellent memory for names and faces. At least for mine - he never failed to greet me by name when we ran into each other at BMW events or auto shows.
When he was promoted to overall Head of Design (from head of BMW Automobile Design) we bumped into each other - oh, I dunno, somewhere.
He told me he was quite amused at how some of his critics saw the promotion as some sort of Lateral Arabesque, a punishment for what he had wrought, an attempt to get him out of the way.
His amusement stemmed from the fact that the chap who replaced him, Adrian van Hooydonk, was in fact the lead designer on most of the cars that raised the biggest furor.
Van Hooydonk also now replaces Bangle as Head of BMW Design.
I wish Chris well in his new endeavours.