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Know Your Car Design Details

September 2, 2011 by Matt

We see these terms batted around car magazine articles from time to time. Let’s clear ’em up, focusing today on named and/or brand-specific design features.

BMW Hofmeister Hoffmeister Hofmiester Hoffmiester Kink Kick Knick

BMW’s Hofmeister Kink. Bowing on the ’61 BMW 1500 sedan and named for the former design director responsible for the feature, every BMW since (except for the ragtop convertibles and certain wagons) has sported the turn-back at the forward base of the C-pillar. Allegedly, it gives the rear of the car a more planted, established look, and highlights the equal contribution of the rear wheels (read: RWD) to the car’s motion. Of course, other manufacturers have styled cars with this feature, before and after its initial appearance on the 1500, but the Bavarian automaker has such a prolific relationship with the detail that it bears their designer’s name.

Saab Hockey Stick

Saab’s hockey stick. I’m unsure if this styling feature is so-named because of the popularity of the sport in Saab’s native Sweden, but form-wise, the moniker certainly fits. More built-in to the car’s contours than BMW’s Hofmeister Kink, the Saab hockey stick is a bit harder to pull off, demanding more from the rest of the car’s design in order to accommodate it. Nevertheless, the automaker has been faithful in attempting to integrate at least a suggestion of the feature into each of their cars since the Saab 96, introduced all the way back in 1960.

Kamm Tail Kammback

The Kamm tail. A bit more functional than the preceding two, the Kamm tail still probably wouldn’t have been as widely adopted had there not been some sort of aesthetic justification. After all, there are a myriad of even more functionally-beneficial design elements that don’t see the light of day because they would render the car in question butt-ugly. In any case, the abruptly truncated tail of the car supposedly creates turbulence and airflow vortices that reduce aerodynamic drag and can even push the car forward, so to speak. So there’s some use to it.

Filed under: Aesthetics, BMW, Saab


  1. Mos says:

    Old post, but felt compelled to point out that the first three Saabs (92,93, 95)didn’t feature the hockey stick detail. This first appeared on the 1960 Saab 96. It was the result of the changing the shape of the quarter windows to accommodate the new wrap around rear window of the 96.

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