The car's design turned out to be quite controversial back then and still is to this day.

[Update] And the answer is... BMW 5 Series (E60).

One of the oldest nameplates in the business dating back to the early 1970s, this prototype was preparing for what went on to become the model’s fifth generation. A significant amount of design changes were made compared to its predecessor, prompting many people to criticize the automaker for coming up with such a striking appearance not at all in line with the automaker’s other cars on sale back then.

There was even a petition floating around the Internet in an attempt to convince the company to simply get rid of the person partially responsible for coming up with the heavily debated design. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t happen. Despite the mixed reviews it received and the controversy around its styling, the car in question turned out to be very successful for the brand in terms of sales.

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This generation was produced over the course of seven years and received a mild facelift halfway in its life cycle. Sitting on top of the range was a high-performance version equipped with a naturally aspirated V10 engine, which was actually the last of its kind as its successor downsized to a smaller engine featuring turbocharging. A new version of the sporty model is right around the corner and it too will have forced induction.

Available as a sedan and wagon, the model was also sold with a long wheelbase exclusively for the Chinese market where rear legroom continues to be very important to this day. Other special versions included an armored model providing a VR4 ballistic protection level and a bespoke variant tailored to police forces and other similar authorities.

Can you guess what’s hiding underneath the body-colored camouflage? Check back tomorrow morning (GMT) to find out the answer.

Photo: CarPix

Car spy photo trivia