Wilhelm Hofmeister, a renowned German car designer, left an indelible mark on BMW’s history during his tenure as Chief Designer from 1955 to 1970. One of his first projects under his direction was the development of the Neue Klasse, a middle-class model that sought to revitalise the then struggling company. With this creation, Hofmeister laid the foundation for the characteristic design that endures to this day, most notably the famous “Hofmeister-Knick” on the C-pillar, present on most BMW models produced since then. After his retirement, Paul Bracq continued the Hofmeister design line almost uninterruptedly at BMW.
But what is it? The Hofmeister crease is the widening of the rear pillar, or C-pillar, which occurs in almost all cars produced by BMW since 1961, softening the rear and lower peak of the side windows, which causes the pillar to widen forwards and backwards.
This shape was not simply a design effect but a technical necessity to eliminate any possible weak points at the junction between the roof and the rest of the bodywork.
Although this style of C-pillar design is well known for being used by BMW on their vehicles, it was also used by Lancia first, on their 1958 Lancia Flaminia Sport Zagato and 1961 Lancia Flavia Coupe. Although widely used across car brands, the term “Hofmeister crease” is generally used in reference to BMW cars.
The first BMWs to feature the Hofmeister crease were the BMW 3200 CS and the BMW 1500, which were shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 1961. In the early models, the flared C-pillar base featured the BMW logo on some models, for example on the BMW E-9, which today has been reinstated on the BMW X2.