Ercole Spada Wanted to Make the E34 5 Series Look More Like the 8 Series

Estrada BMW 5 Series 6 photos
Original BMW E34 5 Series SketchOriginal BMW E34 5 Series SketchBMW E34 5 SeriesBMW E34 5 SeriesBMW E31 8 Series
History will tell you marvelous details about the things you love, if you have the patience to listen from time to time. It’s the case of one of the most popular 5 Series models ever made, the E34.
As you probably know, one of the first stages in developing a car is creating its design. Most of the time, the designers get to work well before anyone else and their ideas have to be approved before anything else is done.

Back in the 1980s, BMW’s design team included an Italian known as Ercole Espada. He was the chief designer over in Munich from 1976 to 1983 and, amongst other things, he was involved in putting together the E32 7 Series and the E34 5 Series. Unfortunately, he never got to finish the latter because of various misunderstandings.

Espada left during design development of both cars but the 7er was already in an advanced state while the E34 was doing just baby steps. His overall concept was drawn in 1982 and it looked a lot different than how the car actually ended up being made.

His take on the 5er put it closer to the E31 8 Series that was introduced later on, towards the end of the 80s and which’s design was wrapped up in 1986.

Since Espada left in 1983 and the E34 entered production in 1987, time was short. BMW went to J Mays from Ford to finish up the details and him, under Claus Luthe, managed to come up with the design we know today in 1985. The car was basically done in under 36 months.

Today, looking over the two, the differences are striking but we’re not sure that the design the Italian put together was better or worse than how the car actually came out. What do you think?

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