Humanity has been obsessed with time since the dawn of history. The Egyptians, the Mayans, the Greeks, and thousands of other civilizations throughout human history have strived to measure and understand time. No mineral, artifact, or human creation, nothing is more precious than time. Time does not negotiate; it cannot be purchased, sold, or recovered once it’s lost. Mankind has accomplished impressive feats, but as each man lives his life, he does so under the looming shadow of passing time. No force is more fearsome than the passing of time itself. IND’s latest portfolio project makes this fact abundantly clear. This project was not a battle against limited resources, limited creativity, or limited ability, but rather a fight against time.
Nelson, our client for this Portfolio Project is an unsung hero in the car world. His collection of supercars has given magazine editors across the world the opportunity to test drive some of the rarest, most exotic vehicles on the planet, and has allowed regular car enthusiasts like us to read about machines we can only dream of having. His garage looks like every teen aged boy’s fantasy, with everything from Aston to Zonda contained within. Most important to IND’s mission in this project, Nelson is true car enthusiast, and is not content with acquiring cars simply to add to a stationary collection of exotics- the cars owned by Nelson are driven on the street and on the track, and driven to their limit.
Nelson has been a BMW owner since the 1970s, and has had a passion for the M division’s unique creations since the letter M began to quicken the heartbeats of performance enthusiasts worldwide, so was naturally felt inspired when he saw IND’s Atlantis E90 M3 portfolio project. The color was so striking to our client, that he knew he had to have it. The color itself comes with a price, however- a brand new M3, ordered through BMW’s Individual program can take nearly a year to obtain. As plans came together, our mission became very clear.
IND would create a car that would look at home next to Nelson’s two Bugatti Veyrons and Ferrari Enzo both because of its amazing performance and its exotic spec sheet. We also knew that Nelson wished to have the car in time for the summer’s track season, and could not think of a better venue to show the completed car to our client than BimmerFest in California- without question the biggest BMW gathering in the US. It is when we committed to these two simply-stated goals that the specter of time began to loom over IND.
The project started with the purchase of a brand new 2010 E92 M3. It had been a while since I had the chance to sit in an M3 this new, and the experience was no less intoxicating than the first time I’d gotten the opportunity. The car pulled into our shop with 29 miles brightly displayed on the odometer. The window stickers, floor mat protectors, and of course that wonderful smell of a new BMW were all there, and I could not conceal my excitement. Of course, after some moments of simply staring at the car, I began to regain focus. All of IND’s staff would have to talk and plan and debate for hours. Choices had to be made quickly, and correctly. Parts that many said were impossible to get would have to arrive within days of the car’s arrival at our facility. And of course, there was the matter of disassembling the entire car to prepare it for its complete refinish in BMW’s beautiful Atlantis Metallic.
To that end, while IND’s creative staff met to discuss our vision and create a build timeline for the car, IND’s BMW factory trained technicians immediately moved the car to our lift to begin disassembling the entire car. The complete front of the car was removed in this photo, to prepare the engine for removal.
The engine was stripped, and prepared for removal…
… and then removed to expose the muscular looking frame of the M3.
Each part was meticulously packaged and labeled immediately after removal. A dedicated section of industrial sized warehouse shelving was purchased specifically for Nelson’s M3, and installed in a separate section of our warehouse to store all of the parts. One of the biggest challenges of building this M3 is the reassembly process- our technicians are doing the job that BMW does on an assembly line with complex machinery, entirely by hand. Each piece must be absolutely perfectly re-installed to ensure that the car has no strange creaks, rattles, or groans and feels and drives just like a car with 20 miles on it, fresh from BMW’s assembly line.
We chose our most qualified paint professional to complete the paint work on this car. He has been with our shop for 28 years, and lit up with excitement when we began discussing the magnitude of this project together. The beautiful Atlantis Metallic paint was applied to the freshly prepared car only two days after the car’s arrival at our shop. Every member of IND’s staff was aware of just how little time was available, and with time looming over our shoulders, not a single staff member wasted even a precious second between tasks.
As soon as the paint cured, our technicians began reassembly of the critical components so that the car could be sent to our composites manufacturer, our upholsterer, and to BMW.
Because every nut and bolt was removed from the car, even small items like the horns, oil cooler brackets, and so on had to be reinstalled, along the with the natural centerpiece of the car’s wheel wells- the KW ClubSport adjustable suspension and Brembo 380mm brake kit, finished in IND’s custom machinery grey to resemble Brembo’s Motorsport calipers.
Akrapovic’s titanium exhaust system was a perfect match for this project, and was next to be reinstalled on the car. Rogue Engineering adjustable toe arms can also be seen in this photo, and at this point the car’s floor plates and other small hardware are reinstalled.
A car meant to compete for attention with Nelson’s supercars would not succeed in its task with only the M3’s standard power level on tap. ESS Tuning’s supercharger kit was perfectly suited to the task, offering bulletproof reliability and power levels usually reserved for exotics. IND could not leave the engine bay well enough alone, of course, so we chose to finish the valve covers in a high gloss black, with their plastic covers in Atlantis Metallic, and the supercharger’s intake manifold in a jewel-like high polished gloss black to match the theme of the car.
From here, the car made a trip to visit our friends at Fall Line Motorsports. To complete the car’s interior, we knew we had to borrow an element from the M3 GTS- the roll bar. IND worked with the expert fabricators at Fall Line Motorsports to create a custom roll bar for the car, using 1.75” .095 wall thickness chromoly tubing. Fall Line used their experience in racing E92 M3s in the Grand AM race series to weld in this beautiful piece of safety equipment.
A photo of the roll bar’s main hoop being test fitted reveals another custom detail of this project- the all leather headliner! The fabricators at Fall Line had to work very carefully to not damage the beautiful leather of the headliner- IND had to purchase this leather directly from BMW’s leather supplier in Germany, and import the hides into the US as they are a blocked item in the United States! This gives the headliner, along with some other interior pieces we will reveal later a nearly irreplaceable status.
Fall Line’s master fabricators placed beautiful welds on the base plates of the roll bar.
One the roll bar is complete, Fall Line places their plaque on the roll bar as a signature of their amazing work.
IND laid a coat of beautiful Atlantis Metallic paint on the car’s roll bar to integrate the piece into the car’s interior. Because Nelson’s vision for this car was originally inspired by both the M3 GTS and IND’s original Atlantis project, we knew that the Atlantis roll bar would be a perfect unifying point between both of these sources of inspiration.
To compete with Nelson’s exotic collection, we knew that we had to achieve something truly special in the car’s interior, and knew of no better starting point than Ericsson’s amazing Carbon Fiber door panels. Time was of course the enemy once again, because after contacting Ericsson we learned that not only had the panels never actually been made for a car outside of Ericsson’s own facility, they were to take about 8 weeks to build and import. After several conversations that included a fair amount of begging and pleading, IND was able to successfully import the panels in a matter of two weeks! Because the panels had never been sent outside of Ericsson’s own facility, fitting these panels to the car would be a true challenge. Our expert technician worked for nearly a week to create the perfect piece!
IND knew that only one set of seats would be right enough to continue the GTS theme- the BMW Performance seats. We contacted one of our connections in Germany to import the seats for us, along with hide after hide of BMW’s original leather (something we were told repeatedly was impossible to get). To match the all leather headliner and dash, the seats were painstakingly disassembled and completely reupholstered in leather. The seats were completed in four days, a nearly impossible feat! IND refinished the plastic seat belt pass through pieces in gloss black for an absolutely original look.
By far the biggest challenge of the project was this, a completely one off carbon fiber rear interior section. IND once again worked with our amazing composites manufacturer, and gave him his most ambitious task yet- build a piece that will completely cover the rear area left bare by installing the roll bar, match everything to the Ericsson door panels, and do it all in just one week. The entire staff worked through each night and the weekend to complete our project, and the result was even more impressive than anyone at IND could have possibly envisioned! The full carbon fiber interior treatment gives the car a fighting chance against Nelson’s amazing supercars.
The completed view of our “IND GTS” interior treatment.
Smaller details like the reupholstered shift and ebrake boots with M tri color stitching surround the leather wrapped gauge holder that contains oil temp, water temp, and oil pressure gauges by Stack. Monitoring this engine’s vitals will be critical, as the car will see it’s fair share of track use.
No other wheel will have suited this project more perfectly than BBS’ FI. The wheels were completely unavailable during the planning of this project, and to my knowledge, this is still the only set of BBS FI wheels in the United States as of today. The volcanic eruption of April made importing these wheels an even greater adventure, forcing IND to have our shipping contact in Germany personally pick the wheels up at BBS’ facility, drive them to the airport, and personally ensure the set got loaded on an airline flight. Seeing the wheels safely in our hands was truly thrilling!
Finally, after the key components for the car had been installed, IND was able to fly the chief software engineer for ESS Tuning to Chicago to program the car’s already incredible double clutch transmission, and dyno test the car. The M3 spun the dyno rollers with a fearsome bellow from the Akrapovic exhaust, and produced 522 horsepower at the wheels with just 6.5psi of boost from ESS’ supercharger kit!