The Hofmeister kink (sometimes also translated Hofmeister kick, German: Hofmeister-Knick) is an automotive design feature seen on modern BMWs and automobiles by other manufacturers. The feature consists of a low forward bend at the C-pillar or D-pillar in the case of touring vehicles or SUVs. It is named for Wilhelm Hofmeister, BMW design chief from 1955-1970.
Among the first cars to feature this design trait were some 1949 General Motors 2-door cars, as well as the 1958 Lancia Flaminia Sport Zagato and the 1961 Lancia Flavia Coupé. Despite its being used broadly across automotive makes, the term "Hofmeister kink" is generally used in reference to automobiles designed by BMW it later appeared in.
The first BMWs to feature it were the BMW 3200 CS and the BMW 1500 shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 1961 and was later named after then-BMW director of design, Wilhelm Hofmeister. In early models, the widened base of the C-pillar sometimes featured the BMW roundel.
Not unique to BMW models, similar C-pillar kinks have appeared on cars of other brands both before 1961 and since. For example, the 1951 Kaiser Deluxe Golden Dragon shows a considerable "Hofmeister kink" in its greenhouse design. Another instance is seen with the 1994 Chevrolet Impala SS, based on the 1991+ Chevrolet Caprice, which had a plastic C-pillar kink insert and unique quarter window added to its design for its debut year. For 1994, the Caprice retained the standard triangular shaped window glass. In 1995, GM did away with the plastic insert, and incorporated this kink into the stamped sheetmetal quarter panels themselves for both the Impala SS as well as the Caprice Classic. In addition, the kink is present on some Honda Accord and Civic models.
- BMW design history (German)
- Norbye, Jan P. (1984). BMW - Bavaria's Driving Machines. Skokie, IL: Publications International. pp. 131, 136. ISBN 0-517-42464-9.
- BMW USA website (click on Hofmeister kink)
- Channel 4 (UK) retrospective, see image caption and first paragraph Archived December 19, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- Archived June 4, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- BMW Designers An overview of automotive designers working for BMW.