“There is no Zicker line up the side,” he says. “Normally you have the classic window graphic with the Hofmeister kink at the rear pillar. And below it you have a sharp line, the Zicker line. That’s been removed on this car.”
Once pointed out, the line’s removal is startling. All of a sudden, the defining mark of modern BMWs – a mark you perhaps hadn’t consciously noted – has gone. Also gone are the almost engineered surfaces of recent high-end models.
“This is a preview of the new design language as much as it is a preview of the 8 Series,” continues Buckingham. “It’s about lush, full surfaces. “When I was first drawing it, I wanted a flow. It’s not a word I like, but I wanted a flow to the bodysides. Once you take away the Zicker Line you have to replace it with something.”
He points down to the substantial scoop that has been subtly worked into the 8 Series’s flanks. “That’s why you have this element, the big intake in the lower nose, the exit behind the wheel arch and the scoop on the side. So you still have a connection running down the side of the car, even though the Zicker line is gone.” Some BMW design trademarks, such as narrow headlights, the kidney grille, the window graphic and the L-shaped tail-lights, have been cranked up in order to maximise them “so you can then allow yourself to do new things”, a process he describes as a “form language discussion”.
The full, luxury surfaces, he says, bring the precision back to make sure it is BMW. “These surfaces exist between the creases, in a kind of controlled sculpture,” explains Buckingham. “I like highlights, and these big surfaces allow me to play with the volumes and control the highlights.
“BMWs always have a lot of structure and there’s a lot of design theory behind it. Lots of time goes into surfaces and radius work. If you look at the rear corner of the 8 Series, we spent a lot of time to make sure it all worked. BMW is obsessive about this stuff.”