The 1941 Willys MB not only served our troops during World War II, but also gave rise to the SUV, a vehicle type that would boom for years to come. The midengined Lamborghini Miura of the 1960s set a blueprint for supercars through the '70s and '80s. But we don't have to travel back a half-century to find cars that changed the automotive design landscape. Here are ten modern cars that rocked the status quo and inspired serious changes in the new cars we see today.
2002 BMW 7 Series
Few modern car designs are as despised as the 2002 BMW 7 Series. That year, BMW's flagship sedan traded the suave lines and swagger of the previous E38 generation for blunt and blocky shapes. It had lines above its headlights that looked like eyebrows. The trunklid, nicknamed the Bangle butt after BMW designer Chris Bangle, appeared to be an afterthought to increase luggage space. And inside the cockpit was the dreaded iDrive, a complex infotainment system controlled by a frustrating rotary knob.
But as much as everyone disliked that car, its design inspired other carmakers to move in that direction, creating more elegant versions of Bangle's work. Lexus and Mercedes-Benz, for example, adopted a version of the Bangle butt. All luxury cars have grown to the same large, blocky proportions pioneered on that BMW, in part to meet today's crash standards and provide increased visibility for the driver. Look inside any Audi, Mercedes, or Lexus these days and you'll find their version of iDrive.
The 2002 BMW 7 Series was an ugly duck. But Bangle's design, for better or worse, pushed sedan design to where it is today.