At dinner parties, in website forums, or chatting with friends — by airing an opinion pretty much anywhere, in fact — the one subject that is likely to provoke debate is cars. The automobile is a deity in some circles, a simple mode of transport for others — but from a branding perspective, no one sits on the fence or has no allegiance. The exception that proves this rule is BMW, a marque that has become a byword for desirability, reliability and driving at its purest.
Bayerische Motoren Werke has always been a pioneer in automobile development. The result of a never-ending production line of elite motor vehicles, such as the BMW e30 M3 Sport Evolution, BMW 2002 Turbo and the BMW 507, is far from unenviable. You generate a reputation as a brand that meets the desire of every modern car buyer: that is to say, reliability, comfort, sport performance and, for the most dedicated of petrol heads, an incomparable driving experience. This prevents the ownership of a BMW being merely material; it becomes something spiritual.
This year marks a milestone for BMW: the Bavarian behemoth is 100 years old, and to celebrate it has put every iota of experience, skill and passion into creating what must be one of the most extraordinary vehicles to hit the tarmac. The BMW Individual 7 Series THE NEXT 100 YEARS is a masterpiece — and, to make sure it was as good as it appeared to be at first sight, we enlisted the help of a man with an eye for detail unmatched by your average enthusiast: the master tailor Edward Sexton.
"This year marks a milestone for BMW: the Bavarian behemoth is 100 years old."
The BMW Individual 7 Series THE NEXT 100 YEARS is designed with craftsmanship in mind. Each facet and piece of material is shaped and designed for aesthetic and physical comfort, something Mr. Sexton has spent his working life mastering, too. He says of his first thoughts, in fittingly anthropomorphic language: “What struck me most about the car, when the driver picked me up, was the long slender lines on the body — well proportioned, unassuming yet powerful.” The colour is a rich royal blue, which complements the polished metal on the grille and alloy wheels. The style of the grille has a more demure, professional, less meaty design to its cousin, the M class, but it nevertheless has a noble, effortlessly chic front. Though the ribbed shaping on the bonnet does add a soupçon of sportiness.
It was, however, when we got inside the car that Edward’s eye really got to work. He wanted to be, and was, as meticulous about the detailing within the car as the task required. “On entering the car, the sheer luxury, the beautiful upholstery was palpable and unmistakable,” he says. “I loved the attention to detail. The machining, it was done so beautifully and precisely, matching on all four corners of the seats; it connected perfectly. This is a detail that could go unnoticed, but I felt as if they had thought about it and, more importantly, they knew what they were doing.” The gorgeous cream leather upholstery is riveted, moulded, stitched and perforated to create the most visual and physical comfort. The cosy use of wood adds a gentle, homely feel, or, as Edward puts it: “The beautiful wood finishing, and in contrast with the leather, looks amazing.”