November 8, 2006

BMW and Studebaker designer Albrecht Graf Goertz dies at 92

Munich, Germany – Designer Albrecht Graf Goertz, who designed the BMW 507 in the mid-1950s, passed away last Friday at the age of 92. Goertz also designed the BMW 503 and worked on the “bullet-nose” Studebaker, as well as a wide range of consumer objects, including fountain pens, cameras, musical instruments, furniture and textiles.

“In Albrecht Graf Goertz, BMW has not only lost the creator of the BMW 503 and 507, one of the most consummate cars in history,” says Christopher Bangle, Head of BMW Group Design. “The entire design fraternity bids farewell to one of its most passionate champions, a man who was not only a car designer heart and soul, but also creative and successful in every field of design.”

Goertz was born January 12, 1914 near Hanover; he apprenticed at the Deutsche Bank in Hamburg and 18 months later joined the private London bank Helbert Wagg & Company, but moved to the U.S. in 1936. His first car was built three years later; based on a Mercury chassis, the “Paragon” two-door coupe went on show for several weeks at the 1939 San Francisco World Exhibition. In 1945 he met designer Raymond Loewy, who helped him to gain a place of study at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and subsequently took him on as a junior designer in his Studebaker development. Goertz and a colleague designed the facelift of the Studebaker Champion, known as the “bullet nose”.

Goertz opened his own design studio in 1953 and was approached by Max Hoffman, the New York-based leading importer of European luxury cars in the 1950s; Hoffman’s influence was strong enough with the automakers would grant him advance insight into their model planning. When BMW asked Loewy for his assessment of a V8-powered sports car project, Hoffman saw the design, disliked it, and suggested Goertz send design sketches to BMW, which met with instant acceptance. The company signed a contract with Goertz in 1955.

Goertz’s design portfolio also included the Agfa camera, Mont Blanc fountain pen, Custom Craft fibreglass sportsboat, Polaroid camera, Datsun 240Z, Fuji cine-camera and film projector, Oxford Filing Supply office furniture, and Puma sportswear and accessories.

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