Very rarely in life, one will have the opportunity to create something truly unique. Whether it be a work of art, a work of engineering, a work of literature, or anything else, the opportunity to build something that you know has never been done before, and will not be achieved since is an opportunity every person should have the privilege of seizing. For the staff at IND, and for the car’s owner, IND’s Atlantis portfolio car was just this opportunity to make a unique mark on the world.
From the first time I spoke with our client Myke, I knew that his BMW Individual Atlantis E90 M3 was not a car that could be allowed to be in his ownership in factory form. BMW’s Individual program allows the most committed BMW enthusiasts to create their own unique car, with a choice of one-off exterior and interior colors and other options. Myke has a passion for personalized BMW’s that is difficult to match by anybody’s standards, and I knew immediately that we could create an amazing car together.
Through hundreds of phone calls, emails, and private messages, one thing became very clear to me- Myke is not afraid to take risks in creating his own interpretation of the already classic E90 M3. Several moments of constructing the car were downright nerve racking- will the wheels fit the overall theme of the car? Was it a mistake to apply gloss black powdercoat to the already beautiful Akrapovic exhaust tips? Will our hand built Carbon Fiber roof panel fit? Commitments like these required absolutely no fear.
When talking about IND’s Atlantis, the first thing that needs to be mentioned is the color. Available only through BMW’s Individual program, and only with the express approval of the BMW Individual program’s director, BMW Atlantis Metallic is a slap in the face to the average gray, silver, and white cars in your office parking garage. Vibrant does not begin to describe it. Atlantis Metallic shifts from Estoril blue to Avus blue to shades of green and teal, and simply can’t be captured by a single description. All of the staff at IND knew that the wrong modifications would ruin a car of this caliber, and so had to tread carefully.
From the start of the project, the centerpiece of the car would be the completely one-off carbon fiber roof panel. Because E90 M3s never came with a Carbon roof from the factory, we knew that this one item alone would set the car apart from any other like it. Myke even changed the build specifications of his car from a sunroof equipped car to a non sunroof equipped car, just to acquire the non sunroof headliner panel required to install our Carbon Fiber roof! Constructing a Carbon Fiber roof panel is no easy task, but fortunately for IND, Atlantis was in it’s planning stages well before the car even existed on BMW’s assembly line! We began work on selecting the parts and preparing the various components of the car about 8 months prior to delivery, which gave IND and our partners enough time to ensure absolute perfection. IND partnered with a local composites shop that constructs body work for winning ALMS, Grand Am, and Formula cars in order to create the carbon roof panel. Although IND had completed over ten carbon roof projects on E46 M3 cars, no amount of experience will steel you from the uneasy feeling of cutting the roof panel from a BMW Individual M3 with only 1,000 miles on the clock! All of the employees at IND breathed a sigh of relief when, after weeks of preparation, the Carbon Roof panel safely fell into place as if it had been there all along.
IND’s Atlantis Portfolio Project is the only E90 M3 in this color in the world, and the only E90 M3 in the world with a full replacement Carbon Fiber roof, so naturally the wheels could not be something that had been seen before either. I still clearly remember the phone call when Myke called me and said “This car can only have the Neez Model 15 wheels”. Through the three months that Atlantis has been at IND’s facility, many local clients have seen the wheels in person and expressed doubt about the choice. Seeing these wheels on the car, I would install nothing else. The beautiful and complex appearance of the wheels is augmented again by their rarity- this set of Model 15 wheels is the only set in the United States! Small details throughout the car, like IND’s Gloss Black sidemarkers, Gloss Black kidney grilles, and of course the beautiful Gloss Black powdercoated tips of the full Akrapovic Titanium exhaust system accent both the wheels and carbon roof perfectly. Nitto Tires and KW coilovers complete the footwork of the car.
With the Carbon Fiber roof being the centerpiece of the car, a critical point to consider was how to not take the eye away from the hand built masterpiece on top of the car. Brembo 380mm brakes were a must have for the car, and were color matched in beautiful Atlantis Metallic at Brembo’s facility to provide a cohesive look. RD Sport’s front bumper and Challenge’s rear diffuser were both installed as smoothly as possible, with no exposed Carbon Fiber to be seen. This ensured a smooth, together look for the whole car. IND’s custom paint work in the engine compartment carried the Atlantis Metallic and Gloss Black theme throughout the car, and worked to ensure that all modifications look as at home as possible. Dinan’s Carbon Fiber air intake, Rogue Engineering Power Pulleys, and an Active Autowerke software flash round out the power modifications.
Two moments in this car’s build will forever remain in my memory- Myke’s reaction to the car upon seeing it for the first time, and driving the car at the Midwest’s premier AutoBahn Country Club race course.
Preparing for delivery of the car was an all week long marathon of cleaning, testing, and perfecting. Every component had to fit perfectly. Every inch of paint on the car had to gleam as if brand new. Each body piece was buffed and professionally detailed for the best possible result. After a full week of late nights, the big moment for Atlantis finally arrived- meeting its owner after a complete transformation.
Myke slowly walked into IND’s delivery room, and looked at each aspect of the car. I was finally able to show him all of the details we’d included into the car- the gloss black honeycomb side vent that most people leave matte, the gloss black OEM rear bumper mesh, along with the painted and finished matte RD Sport air ducts in their front bumper. The pinstriped details on the M car’s beautiful intake plenum, along with the molded Challenge diffuser. Small touches like this can only truly be appreciated in person. Myke smiled, looked at me, and said “It’s just perfect. It’s exactly right. I wouldn’t change a thing”. Nothing in this business is more rewarding than hearing those exact words from a client. Once the car was thoroughly inspected and formally delivered, it was time to take some photos and video. Any location accessible to the regular public was simply not enough for a Portfolio Project of this caliber- only the best would do. The staff at IND could think of no better location than the AutoBahn Country Club.
AutoBahn Country Club is located in Chicago’s southernmost suburbs, and is a secluded, wooded paradise for anyone who truly loves motorsport. As AutoBahn is a private country club, the chance to drive a car at their North Track in complete private, for the entire day, is not only basically impossible, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
The exhaust note of the Akrapovic titanium system gave me chills as we loaded Atlantis on our enclosed trailer. The gleaming Neez wheels and jewel-like Brembo brakes made me absolutely beam. I had a very difficult time concentrating on the task at hand- making sure that the low RD Sport bumper cleared our trailer ramp- staring at the car was all I could do. My mind was occupied with only one thing- AutoBahn’s gorgeous race track.
Pulling into AutoBahn truly makes you feel like one of the privileged few. You park your trailer outside of the massive fenced facility, and have a quick chat with the friendly track marshal inside the small gate building. The look on my face must have given away that I had brought something truly special, and we were admitted with only a few simple questions about the gorgeous Atlantis M3. As the gates opened, we were able to see the private garages of the Midwest’s biggest shops- EuroSport, FallLine, and many others were all there permanently, year round to provide trackside support to their clients. The treelined behemoth that is AutoBahn’s North and South tracks loomed ahead of us. Together, the North and South tracks make a formidable course that is nearly four miles long, with many complex corners, elevation changes, and the years of study and improvement that a track like this commands.
The North Track was our concern for the day. North Track was completely closed and available to us only for the entire day. This would allow ample time to shoot the car. I started Atlantis for the next time that morning, and we began the delicate procedure of unloading the car from the trailer. The beautiful note of the Akrapovic exhaust promised amazing sounds later that day, as the car went around AutoBahn’s North Track at full song. Of course, our goal here was not to set record laps, or to abuse the car, but simply to preview the car’s capabilities. Together, the amazing stopping power of the Brembo brakes, the beautiful sound of the Akrapovic exhaust, and the sharp response of the KW coilover suspension made the car a joy to drive on the track, even at our leisurely pace.
It is a rare opportunity indeed to create a truly unique work- something that has never happened before, and will not occur since. Working to create IND’s Atlantis Portfolio Project car has been an honor and a pleasure, and I know the car will put smiles on the owner’s face for years to come. I’ll take one last stare at our work before it rolls onto the enclosed trailer for it’s long ride home, to Texas.