Early Bangle: 1996 Fiat Coupe Turbo

Utter the name of designer "Chris Bangle" among auto enthusiasts and a collective shudder will ensue. Bangle is an American who was hired as a stylist for BMW, and beginning with the 2002 E65 7-Series, radically altered the look, tone, and feel of all BMW vehicles, much to the public's disdain. During the late 20th century, BMW designs under Claus Luthe were always evolutionary, building carefully on each predecessor. These cars, like the E30, E32 and E34, were also built extremely well and when combined with the conservative styling, became seared in the minds of drivers all over the world as superior products. Bangle broke the evolutionary chain in favor of revolution. It backfired. The E65, with its bloated proportions, ridiculous trunk, overly complex electronics and unintelligible "iDrive", was a step in the wrong direction after the beloved E38 it replaced.

So what was Chris up to before he "bangled" up BMW? He worked for Opel and then Fiat, and this '96 Coupe bears his mark.

The Coupe was produced from 1993-2000. Bangle designed the body, and Pininfarina did the interior. Bangle's work here isn't half bad. It's quite in line with that Italian designers were striving for in the 90s, moving past the chiseled-from-steel edges and lines of the Eighties and into soft curves and minimalist panels. The unorthodox wheel arch shapes are interesting but give it an odd look from certain angles. The round taillights are nice. It's kinda futuristic, kinda pretentious. I also appreciate the rear wiper.

Inside, exterior color flows in and wraps around the dashboard to brighten things up.

Like Alfa Romeo at the time, which Fiat owned, the Coupe is front-wheel drive. Fortunately, under the hood of this example is the later 2.0-liter 20-valve 5-cylinder turbocharged engine. It pumped out around 217 horsepower and propelled the car from 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds, not bad. This one is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission.

The car is located in Canada and the seller says it has only 69,999 kilometers on the clock, which is only about 42k miles. They say it's in "perfect" condition inside and out. The also say it's one of just a handful ever imported to North America. The US currently doesn't allow cars newer than 25 years old to be imported for road use, but there are exceptions. Perhaps this could be made into one of them? The seller warns however if you are a US bidder and you don't have a concrete plan on getting the car across the border, don't bother bidding.

Available here on ebay with no bids starting at $6,000 and a Buy-It-Now of $12k.

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