Previously unseen BMW concepts presaged the current state of the brand

The latest video from BMW Group Classic features concept cars that foretold the future we’re now living in. Though created decades ago, the ideas they embodied are now prominent in the BMW brand, showing just how far ahead some of designers think.

The main feature in the video is the BMW ICE, created in 2004. Back then, ICE was not yet a popular abbreviation for internal combustion engine. Instead, it stood for Integrated Engineering Concept, which meant that it was developed by both designers and concept engineers to create a more practical, sellable idea than the typical concept.

Turns out, they were spot on. Designed at BMW’s studio on Thousand Oaks, California, the ICE is a crossover coupe, and even use the term coupe in the traditional sense in that it has two doors. It’s lifted, features a Z4 interior with two rear seats grafted, and looks like a taller and more practical version of the 2001 BMW X CoupĂ© concept. The rear was designed to fit a pair of mountain bikes in it, and it had a panoramic roof, ideas that seemed cutting edge for the brand 17 years ago.

The front is reminiscent of the E65 7 Series, especially the pre-facelift 2003-04 models. Given the timing of the ICE, it makes a lot of sense. At the rear, Infiniti G35-like taillights flank a vertical window in the lower hatch.

Though it paved the way for a vehicle class we generally abhor, the it’s still notable how prescient the designers turned out to be. Even in 2004, after the SUV-happy 90s, if someone said sedans would be nearing extinction by 2021, you probably would have laughed in their faces.

Also in the video is an old BMW 7 Series concept. What deserves mention about this one is its massive kidney grille. Proportionally, it matches the highly controversial grilles on the new M3 and M4. Though many thought of this design as a new look, BMW has clearly been toying with the notion for decades. The next video promises a deeper dive into this car.

The ICE and 7 Series being featured in video mean that both have now officially been welcomed into BMW’s historic collection. If we had to guess, it’s probably a marketing decision to explain the company’s current direction. Had the ideas they brought into the world not been successful we doubt they’d be included, but now they will have a special place of honor alongside greats like the 3.0 CSL, M1 and 2800 GTS.

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