A Brief History of BMW’s Iconic Kidney Grille Design

The BMW kidney grille is an iconic design element that has been a hallmark of the brand’s vehicles since the early 1930s. Its unique shape and presence have evolved over time, adapting to design trends and changes in the automotive industry. Here’s a brief history of the BMW kidney grille and its evolution:

  1. 1933 – BMW 303: The kidney grille made its debut on the BMW 303, the brand’s first six-cylinder car. The design was functional, as it allowed more air to reach the radiator, aiding in engine cooling. This early version of the kidney grille featured a tall and narrow design with vertical chrome slats.
  2. 1950s – BMW 507: In the 1950s, the kidney grille became more prominent, with the introduction of the BMW 507 roadster. The grille featured a broader and more horizontal design, with a chrome frame that extended around the headlights, giving the vehicle a distinctive and sporty appearance.
  3. 1960s – BMW Neue Klasse: With the introduction of the Neue Klasse (New Class) sedans in the 1960s, the kidney grille design was further refined. The grille became more integrated into the front fascia, with a flatter profile and black slats, which added to the sleek and modern look of the vehicles.
  4. 1970s – 1980s: During this period, the kidney grille maintained its essential form but adapted to the design language of each model. The grille was integrated with the angular lines and sharp creases of the 1980s BMW models, such as the E30 3 Series.
  5. 1990s – 2000s: Throughout the ’90s and 2000s, the kidney grille evolved to match the curved and flowing lines of BMW models. The grilles became wider and more prominent, often featuring chrome surrounds or slats, which added to the luxury and sophistication of the vehicles.
  6. 2010s – Present: In recent years, the kidney grille has continued to evolve, taking on more bold and more expressive designs. The grille has grown in size and prominence on many models, such as the BMW X7 and the 4 Series, showcasing the brand’s shift towards more daring and distinctive styling.

Despite its various iterations over the years, the BMW kidney grille has remained a consistent and recognizable design feature that distinguishes the brand’s vehicles. It has successfully adapted to changing design trends while maintaining its identity as a symbol of BMW’s heritage and commitment to innovation.


The BIMMERIST editorial team consists of car enthusiasts, journalists, and technicians who provide you with exciting stories.

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