GTS-Plus: IND’s 10th Anniversary M4
This September, IND will celebrate its tenth anniversary.
In human terms, the passing of ten years is like the crossing of a vast chasm of one’s life. The gaping maw of uncertainty stares at us all when we embark on a new stage of our lives- the experience for us was no different when we embarked on our journey with IND ten years ago.
We quickly learned that no amount of planning will save one from chance and uncertainty, but we also learned that we had powerful tools which would enable each member of IND to navigate the following decade of work with confidence. We would commit to advising each client honestly and fairly, even if it did not immediately help IND to sell a product. We would be guided by our moral compass first, and our need to balance IND’s budget second, to ensure that we did everything possible to care for our clients, even when it was not easy. Finally, we would never forget that the key to our success was in the minutia of the parts we acquired, created, and installed on our client’s cars. Most importantly of all, we knew that the battle of life was won in the details, that each minor step, each small victory, each setback would contribute to the total picture.
IND’s Portfolio program was born from these principles. IND Portfolio cars have never been the fastest- there is always a more powerful M car around the corner. IND Portfolio cars have never been the most extroverted or wild in their styling- there is always someone willing to take larger risks in the name of fashion. True IND Portfolio cars are designed to uniquely express the owner’s persona, specifically by attending to details that many would not notice. IND Portfolio projects would always strive to have items that were rare, one-off or hand-made included not simply on principle, but because as with life, the battle for greatness is won in the details.
IND Portfolio cars therefore are not simply objects of beauty to us or to our clients. They are a means of reflecting their own persona. They are a way of describing battles fought slowly, in silence, and with great perseverance
It is only after understanding these ideas that we can come full circle to the M4 you see before you: IND’s own 10th Anniversary Portfolio M4. IND has owned development cars in the past, but each was essentially utilitarian- meant to test and validate components, and enable us to have a strong knowledge of the car to help our clients. Our 10th Anniversary M4 would be quite different. We would finally be on the “other side” of the Portfolio equation, creating a car for ourselves, in our own vision.
With all this in mind, the IND 10th Anniversary M4 was born. Planning began in secret some four months ago to transform our M4 development car into a true Portfolio project. This car would represent the sum total of our passion for BMW. It would represent lessons learned slowly, over the course of many years, with our various technical partners and suppliers. It would be a true culmination of everything that is IND.
IND would be a fraction of what it is without our partners, and it is the act of forging those relationships with the absolute best manufacturers, engineers, and designers in the business that has enabled our success. Although it may come as no surprise that our M4 is a veritable who’s-who of the strongest brands in the BMW tuning business, it is the reason behind it that is so critical. Every part installed on the M4 tells a story. Every component represents nearly a decade of cooperation, co-development, and progress. The parts chosen for this M4 are not merely the best available, they also represent IND’s incremental growth and development with each of these organizations, who in their own right have a dedication and commitment to operating at the highest level possible.
Our overriding theme for this M4 was in line with IND’s basic philosophy when modifying an M car: go beyond what BMW is able to give their consumer, but do so in the most tasteful way possible. Not unlike some “OEM plus” approaches to modifying cars, we see our 10th Anniversary M4 as the ultimate interpretation of “GTS Plus”, giving us a car that both recalls BMW’s own M4 GTS, and in some ways, surpasses it. We worked to follow BMW’s own path in some areas, but deviated from the GTS in other key areas to go beyond what BMW can achieve within the constraints of a production car.
We started by completely disassembling the exterior and interior of our M4. Each exterior panel was painstakingly removed, every bit of interior carpet was pulled out. The dashboard was completely disassembled, all of the door panels were removed and sent off for their own transformation. Once the car was disassembled, the rolling chassis went to our in-house paint facility for the most major of its exterior transformations: a color change to Porsche’s incredible Ultraviolet color, found on the 991 GT3RS.
3D Design Japan has been in the business of transforming BMWs since before IND was in existence, and we keep this in mind when working with this highly respected tuner from Japan. The 3D full carbon fiber bumpers for the M4 represent a new height of achievement for 3D, showcasing the company’s ability to transform and simultaneously complement the M4’s body lines while exhibiting a flawless fit. Very few companies can construct such beautifully sculpted pieces completely from carbon fiber and boast such a perfect fit, and with their new complete front and rear bumpers 3D stands as the uncontested industry leader. 3D Design side skirts and trunk spoiler complement the bumpers. IND selected the paint scheme for each component with extreme delicacy, leaving enough exposed carbon to showcase 3D Design’s amazing work, but covering enough to give the M4 a relatively subtle look. A black chrome exterior trim package was carefully installed into the 3D front bumper to continue with our “GTS Plus” theme.
The 3D bumpers alone would not give our M4 a GTS feel- an adjustable front splitter would be necessary to complete the car’s front aerodynamics package. Because this was a component that was destined to be hand-made to fit this M4 specifically, we know we could go above and beyond what BMW created for the GTS itself. Our front splitter begins with a core layer of extremely light weight balsa, and is then reinforced with aluminum plate at each of its twelve mounting points. The upper layer is a beautiful hand-laid Carbon Fiber, while the bottom is reinforced Carbon Kevlar for additional strength. Each aluminum mounting point is then slotted for up to 3 inches of fore and aft adjustment, giving the driver the ability to modify the car’s high speed lift to suit the driving conditions of the day. Finally, Jabroc rub strips are installed on the bottom side of the splitter, giving our M4 the exact same scrape protection measures found in Formula 1 and LeMans race cars. This entire package is mounted directly to the chassis, which transfers aerodynamic loads directly to the front of the M4.
Few wheel companies globally can claim as rich of a history or as advanced manufacturing technology as BBS. BBS has been manufacturing the best race wheels in the business since 1970, well before the M3 was even a twinkle in BMW’s eye. As always, IND chooses to partner with the best, and so our own history with BBS started nearly as soon as IND was in business. We have enjoyed a rich relationship with BBS since, and have cooperated with BBS in developing new applications in both the FI and FI-R, both with BBS USA, and with BBS Motorsport directly in Germany. This M4 would once again see IND asking for a new application from BBS, as we knew the car needed something even more special than the already world-beating FI-R wheel.
BMW’s move to a 19 inch front and 20 inch rear wheel intrigued M fans everywhere, and allowed IND to follow suit. Utilizing a 20” rear wheel increases grip and straight line traction- a useful attribute when dealing with the fire-breathing S55 engine. Thus, our M4 came to wear the world’s first 19 inch front and 20 inch rear staggered set of FI-R wheels. Although the standard BBS finishes are beautiful in their own right, our Portfolio car would feature something unprecedented here as well. Our friends at Threepiece.us took in the only 19/20 stagger set of FI-Rs in the world, and with great care stripped them of their original finish. Each wheel was brushed by hand, creating the first set of FI-R wheels to feature a brushed finish.
A custom billet machined center cap adapter was built, allowing us to utilize a BMW center cap in place of the standard BBS caps for a subtle look. The completed wheels are several steps removed from an original FI-R, and as a result are very special indeed. To finish bringing the wheel package to a GTS-like level, we installed Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires in 265/30/19 front and 295/30/20 rear- the closest available to the genuine GTS tires.
A Brembo GT kit was installed under our FI-R wheels, providing a proven braking solution. Brembo, like BBS, is a world leader in their field that invests incredible capital into the constant pursuit of technological perfection. Unlike nearly all other smaller braking manufacturers, Brembo owns several foundries across the world- this gives Brembo complete vertical integration and full control over their product’s quality, all the way down to the metallurgical level. Brembo has been a partner of IND’s since our own humble beginnings and is an original supplier to BMW for the M4, and so a GT kit made perfect sense for this car. We’ve tested Brembo’s 380mm GT kit in punishing on-track conditions while using high performance brake pads that operate at a high temperature, and the GT Monobloc calipers have run without issue each time. Brembo’s yellow calipers were a perfect fit for the M4’s new Ultraviolet color, imitating Porsche’s own choice for the GT3RS. Our M4 is now also using the newest disc available for this kit- the Type III high thermal disc.
Connecting the unsprung mass of the wheels to the car could only be accomplished with help from the very same company that BMW relies on for the same task- KW. KW Automotive has provided their triple adjustable ClubSport coilovers for two generations of GTS, and is a committed technology partner to BMW. Similarly, IND has maintained a working relationship with KW for many years, not only because of KW’s excellent product, but also because of their excellent infrastructure, service, and support. The fact that KW suspension is developed on their in-house 7 post test rig doesn’t hurt, either. KW’s three way adjustable ClubSport suspension was installed on our M4 to bring it to GTS spec, and Fall Line suspension components are utilized to bring the car’s suspension beyond GTS level.
As many IND fans know, our relationship with Fall Line Motorsports has been particularly fruitful in 2015 and 2016, creating a host of motorsport-derived components designed with direct input from Fall Line’s success in professional racing. Fall Line has designed front spherical bearing conversion bushings, sway bar end links, rear toe adjustment arms, rear upper arm bearings, an oil cooler guard, and many other components for the F8x cars- most of the above can be seen on our M4. The oil cooler guard integrates perfectly with our front splitter, and makes the fragile S55 oil cooler nearly invincible (while maintaining perfect outlet airflow). The front control arm bearings are a particularly fantastic modification, dramatically enhancing the M4’s steering feel and response, and also reducing unwanted wheel movement and toe geometry change under heavy braking. Fall Line’s sway bar end links grant us the ability to properly set corner weights and zero any pre-load in the stabilizer bars, and the rear toe adjustment arms dramatically improve our ability to align the rear of the car, while also building in some additional suspension rigidity and reducing unwanted movement. Fall Line’s rear camber shim kit also locks in the rear camber under heavy load, ensuring that the camber setting is permanently fixed, making for a much more predictable car. Suffice to say, this M4’s suspension is truly beyond even what the M4 GTS brings to the table.
Eisenmann Exhaust Systems GmbH has manufactured exhaust systems for Porsche, Mercedes AMG, Hamann, AC Schnitzer, and so many others since 1988, and is a key partner for IND. IND worked together with Eisenmann to design the F8x M3 and M4’s exhaust system, giving M fans a multitude of options including resonated and non resonated center pipes, a muffled or straight through rear section, and even perfectly designed downpipes for true race use. While our M4 has at one point tested every possible variation from Eisenmann, this car demanded a streetable solution that yielded a mature yet powerful sound. The car was simply planned to too high a standard to be deafeningly loud. Eisenmann’s high flow resonated center pipes were combined with the excellent Eisenmann muffler, and the entire exhaust package was ceramic coated for a perfect appearance. Eisenmann’s Signature exhaust tips complete the look, with their multi-walled construction adding sophistication to the back of the car.
An air intake system from Eventuri adds a beautiful intake roar under load, and complements the Carbon Fiber strut bar perfectly. The flawless fit and finish provided by Eventuri is spot-on for a high level build like our M4, and is at at home with any of the other parts found on the car. We choose to refinish the intake and Eventuri Carbon Fiber engine cover in a translucent purple finish, making each part a visually perfect fit for our engine bay. ESS Tuning as always helps with the most reliable software on the market, giving the M4 additional power without straining the factory turbochargers or creating unsafe operating scenarios for the engine. In the future the IND M4 will see larger turbochargers and a full cooling system upgrade from C&R, allowing us to further push the envelope of what’s possible from a performance standpoint while maintaining factory fit, finish, and function. Alex at Alpine helped us to wrap up the coding on the car, enabling this M4 to operate without any error lights, and a few special functions.
Finally, we knew that the interior would be one of the most critical areas of the car. Too often, high concept projects like this will address power first, exterior style and appearance second, and leave the driving environment for a distant third place. In the interior especially, we knew that we had to meet and then surpass BMW’s GTS.
To that end, the original GTS roll bar was a great place to start. Provided to us by our sources in Germany, the GTS roll bar is the exact part used in the new extra-special M4, and was finished in Ultraviolet to match our M4’s exterior. Simply installing the roll bar would not suffice, as to truly achieve our “GTS Plus” goal our M4 would have to have a flawlessly finished rear closeout. The closeout was constructed from hand-laid Carbon Fiber panelling, mixed with machined brackets which were machined in-house at IND. Each piece of aluminum was carefully fitted to the other, creating a seamless appearance that separated the trunk from the passenger compartment in a way that was both functional and beautiful.
The centerpiece of the interior is a bit of a vintage item in this era: our M4 would get the last set of E46 M3 CSL seats in the world. I do not exaggerate when I say “last set in the world”- this pair of seats was found in a Motorsport warehouse in Germany just recently, and when their availability was brought to our attention, we moved without hesitation. The CSL seats are an absolute work of art, their elegantly sculpted side bolsters and beautiful hardware and trim looking perfectly at home in an M4 over 10 years the senior of the renowned CSL. IND was a fledgeling company when the E46 M3 CSL came to market, and it is truly an honor to experience these seats in person, almost exactly a decade after both the CSL and IND were born. Of course, E46 M3 CSL seats were never intended to fit in an M4, so custom machined brackets were made here as well to accommodate.
Once the seats were in place, the plan for the rest of the interior came together. The headliner, a, b and c pillars were all removed and upholstered in Alcantara to match the CSL seats. The parcel shelf as well was specifically upholstered in Alcantara, giving us an opportunity to integrate the shelf more smoothly into the Carbon Fiber rear closeout. The dashboard, door panels, and center console were removed and covered in Alcantara as well, but also recieved a color-coded Ultraviolet stitch. Aligning the highlight stitch was a tremendous challenge as BMW had not intended to create a fully wrapped dashboard in the M4. Where and how to place the Ultraviolet highlight stitch on the dash and door panels was one of the more interesting steps in designing the interior. A BMW Performance steering wheel was a must-have for this M4, but was also upholstered to match. Finally, M tri color seat belts were imported directly from Europe- a direct nod to the GTS’ own belts.
Finally, our M4 would be host to what is perhaps the most rare component available for the F8x M4 today: full carbon fiber wheels by Carbon Revolution. The first production set of Carbon Rev wheels for the F82 M4 arrived at IND in the nick of time, giving us just enough time to unbox the wheels and install them for a test fit on our own M4. These Carbon Rev wheels are the first iteration of a technology that may truly disrupt the wheel industry in the future. Having worked with Carbon Revolution for over three years to help bring a set of wheels to the BMW market, I am truly thrilled to test fit this first production sample on our M4. Expect more details on these wheels from IND soon.
It is only after adding all of these details together does one obtain a clear picture of the IND 10th Anniversary M4. It is only by combining our 10 years of dynamic relationships with each of IND’s long-standing partners that an M4 such as this is possible.
Some might wonder, why bother modifying a car to this extent? Why obsess over so many minor details of manufacturing and designing parts that many will never notice? For me, creating our own M4 Portfolio car has reinstilled a knowledge of why IND created Portfolio cars at all. IND Portfolio cars do not exist simply to be beautiful cars. IND Portfolio cars exist to remind each of their owners that life is a series of small victories and minor setbacks, that the expanse of life is not traversed with long, dramatic strides, but rather with small, carefully placed steps. IND’s 10th Anniversary M4 will forever exist to remind all of us at IND that victory is found in the details.
Special thanks to our vendors and partners across the country:
European Auto Source
Steve Thomas BMW
Supreme Power Parts