May 16, 2013
It was one of those last minute things… I was traveling to Munich for our Welt 4.0 car show last weekend (held at the BMW Welt grounds) when I got an invite from Gennaro, VP of ///M Flight, to see if I was interested in joining him on a tour of the ///M Studio. Of course I wanted to go! Who wouldn’t!!
This was a sort of unofficial tour of the ///M Studio, since it was on a Saturday and our guide was just coming back from a business trip from out of town to accommodate us. The guys from ///M were very nice to let us inside and show us some very special cars.
All the cars on display were production cars, except for the M3 GTS. I believe it to be a pre-production model since it did not have any limited edition number on the passenger side dashboard. The front brakes also looked pretty interesting. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the brakes.
We got a small taste of what BMW Individual can do. It’s more than just special color paints. They can make you anything your enthusiast heart desires. We were shown photos of a car’s interior belonging to a customer who owned a salmon fish farm. Instead of wood or alloy trim he wanted HIS fish skins to be used. They did. They also showed us photos of an e60 M5 that had a special brown wood interior. The customer owns a company that produces special wood for musical instruments. He wanted HIS wood to be used in the car’s accents. The exterior color was a bronze/gold color to the client’s wishes. They told us that build took over 14 months from start to end.
We were shown the special leathers that BMW Individual uses. They explained how the “hides” come from Happy Algau cows in Southern Germany! And that the hides are specially selected. They use different skin grain for high wear areas on the car seats. And that BMW does not remove the natural cow skin grain, like some of the “other” German car companies do.
Then we got on a side topic about the last M project, the 1M Coupe. We learned some interesting things. The VO (valencia orange) color was a future color in the BMW pipeline. Dr Kay Segler liked it so much he insisted they make the 1M is that color. Then they knew they would have to offer a white and black color - bc every car looks good in those colors. He told us how they really wanted to offer different color stitching accents for each color - but they were tight on a budget plus they were really running out of time. So only one interior color was approved. Same went for some of the other “things” ///M wanted to do to the car. Like functional vents in the front fenders(the crease), they wanted to produce a carbon fiber roof, but they were running out of time. So in the end their hands were tied by time and budget. They told us how well the 1M sold given limited coior choice and being that the car was only offered in a manual transmision. The car sold far better than BMW ever thought it would. This confirms that there will be an M2 in time.
F80 M3 / F82 M4
Then we started to ask some interesting questions about future BMW ///M models. Our guide did say that he has seen the new M3/M4 (F80) up close and personal. AND that is WILL be lighter than the current (e9x) model. How much lighter he? He wouldn’t say. But, it will be significantly lighter. He told us how the “heavy parts” of the car’s construction will use new light weight technology. I took that to mean carbon fiber and lightweight metals. He was really tight lipped on specifics - but we had to ask the things that is on every BIMMERPOST member’s mind.
We also talked about the number of turbos the next M3 and M4 would feature. Again, no comment. He did confirm it will be turbocharged. He then said normally people ask about a V6 vs a straight six. Again, he would neither confirm nor deny.
As we made our way outside the M Studio, we passed some parked test mules. I had the chance to examine three or four F80 M3 sedans up close. The front and rear fenders are really flared out - much more than in spy photos. I’d say the F80 M3 must be (at least!) four inches wider in the rear track from a regular F30. Even with all the camo on those mules… the next M3 looks downright mean!
Parked a few cars over was a fleet of new X5 test mules. That car looks much larger to my eyes. Not my cup of tea… but the X5 program is shaping up quite nicely.
M3/M4 Renders and Spy Photos
As we walked back inside the main building, our guides said something our member will get a kick out of. Gennaro asked if they follow any of the internet news and rumors. They said that they find that BIMMERPOST has the best info and car renders! No kidding. Our guides told us that BIMMERPOST’s render artists have a good eye, often seeing and uncovering many small details that the camouflage is supposed to cover up and hide. Case in point was last year’s M4 coupe render (parked outside of the Nurburgring M Test Center garage)… and how that air vent was reveled in the renders. They were impressed our artists perceived and incorporated them into the renders.