Designer Of The Day looks at a famous car manufacturer who’s contributed to the industry in a big way. English designer David Bache made a name for himself at Austin, Rover and British Leyland. He was responsible for a number of designs, such as the dashboard of the Austin A30 and a restyle of the Austin Metro.
Bache, the son of Aston Villa footballer Joe Bache, was born in Mannheim, Germany. At the end of WW2, Bache joined the Austin Motor Company as an engineering apprentice. After he’d finished his apprenticeship, he moved to Austin’s design office.
Car design career
As part of Austin, Bache worked under Dick Burzi. One of his earliest jobs was to design a dashboard for the Austin A30. He stayed there until 1954 when he moved to Rover in Solihull. He joined as the company’s first ever stylist, a role that differentiated him from a design engineer.
Bache set about updating the Rover 60, 75 and 90 models. He raised the boot height and made the rear window larger. Bach was also responsible for altering the Land Rover Series II, giving it a domesticated appearance. The design proved popular enough that it endured in the Land Rover Defender.
During the 1950s, the shape of cars changed dramatically, with curves giving way to straight lines and sharp corners. In 1955, Bache visited the Paris Auto Show, becoming influenced by the style of the new Citroen DS and Facel Vega.
This led to him creating the shape for the P5, which had a modern style. Rover Managing Director Maurice Wilks wasn’t pleased, calling it a “head turner. The Rover Company don’t make head-turners. We like to make vehicles which pass unobtrusively and are not noticed.”
Bache went back to the drawing board and eventually made a more imposing design for the P5 that was based off the Facel Vega.
When Rover was absorbed into British Leyland, Bache worked on the 1970 Range Rover. He went on to become chief stylist at BL, but was forced to resign after disagreements with BL chief Harold Musgrove.
In 1982, Bache started his own design company called David Bache Associates. Bache died from cancer in 1994, but he left behind a legacy of being one of the greatest car designers of all time.