What are the most beautiful BMWs of all time? According to legendary car designer Frank Stephenson, there are three examples of a perfect BMW. The design needs to encapsulate a brand’s philosophy and excite viewers while staying on brand.

Stephenson’s three favourite BMW designs define what a BMW is while still having an impact on new models. After much consideration Stephenson choose examples from across BMW’s long history to pinpoint the essence of a perfect BMW design.

The BMW M1 supercar is the original BMW M car. This incredible machine was BMW’s first mid-engine supercar and the beginning of the BMW M performance brand that brought motorsport engineering to customer cars. The BMW M1 was initially penned by Lamborghini and eventually finished by Giorgetto Giugiaro a prolific designer responsible for some of the most beautiful cars of the 1980s and 1990s. The BMW M1 is a supercar canvas to which the BMW design language was laid out which helped define the brand.

Next up is the classic BMW E9. This was BMW’s first real sports car and a critical moment for BMW was finding its identity in the late 1960s. Designed by Wilhelm Hofmeister, the BMW E9 coupe set the stage for all future BMWs and was the genesis of the now-famous Hofmeister kink. This specific set of lines used for the rear window after the C-pillar on all BMWs is a definitive design choice found on every single BMW product.

Stephenson’s final design pick is the elegant BMW 507 Roadster. Designed by Albrecht Von Gortez, the BMW 507 is automotive design perfection. Built to compete with the Mercedes SLS, the BMW 507 added a new level of expressive styling to the BMW lineup and remains as one of BMW’s most elegant designs.