BMW Individual has a way of taking the most enticing BMW models to an even higher level of desirability. For over 25 years, the customization facility in Garching, Germany has been creating some of the most sought after, valuable and rare versions of our favorite models. The E46 M3 is a great car, but it’s even better in some of the incredibly uncommon colors that a good number left the factory wearing, courtesy of well-heeled owners who worked with BMW Individual. The program is still alive and well today, as forum threads and high-resolution photos of more modern BMWs wearing a wide array of special colors and other treatments are in no short supply on the internet.
With the recent introduction of the 8 Series last year, brand enthusiasts were wise to have been expecting some sort of special version. But this time, instead of an easy-to-predict First Edition, BMW Individual has risen to the occasion to create a special M850i Night Sky which boasts some incredibly unique elements that set it apart from any previous BMW, Individual, Alpina or otherwise.
Beyond the remarkable paint finish, which is said to boast unmatched depth thanks to a base coat of non-metallic black topped by a gradient shade of San Marino Blue Metallic and three layers of clear coat with varying pigment particle sizes, pieces of the interior trim and control surfaces use meteoric material harvested from extraterrestrial fragments collected on earth. It doesn’t stop there though, as the center console has a starry sky full of constellations on it similar to offerings pioneered by Rolls-Royce a few years ago, while the famous Widmanstätten pattern is featured throughout for a truly unmistakable aesthetic. Mechanical items benefit as well, with special aluminum brake calipers being made from a lightweight additive manufacturing process and rotors that feature more of the same fractal pattern. The M850i Night Sky was official released by BMW on the eave of the Quadrantids meteor shower which occurs ever year early in January as Earth passes through the celestial body of asteroid 2003 EH.
Rock taken from meteoric fragments that were able to penetrate Earth’s atmosphere and subsequently fall to the ground were used for various control surfaces within the interior. These include the start/stop button for the N63 twin-turbocharged V8 engine, the center console trim plate, the selector lever for the ZF eight-speed automatic transmission and the Touch Controller for the iDrive system.
In addition to the out of this world materials, trim and various other surfaces like the tri-color leather upholstery, headliner and more wear the Widmanstätten pattern. The Widmanstätten pattern is a naturally occurring phenomena that only takes place when select metal alloys cool at an extremely low rate that cannot be replicated earth, making the visual end product exclusive to materials from outer space.
Beyond the interior, which features rich integration of the distinct angular pattern, it’s also present on the exterior in places like the mirror caps, front splitters, and center mesh plate for the air breathers on the nose. While the meteoric rock used on the control surfaces is the real deal, with consultation performed by the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, the Widmanstätten pattern as scene here was developed specifically for BMW Individual and the M850i Night Sky, and is achieved using an advanced 3D printing process.
Bringing the heavens to the cockpit atmosphere is further made possible by the addition of the center console armrests which display a special design that was inspired by the glittering night sky. In reality, LED units are responsible for creating the illusion of various constellations shining bright through the immense vacuum of space.
Tri-color fine-grain Merino leather in Opal White, Midnight Blue and silver adds a bit of twilight or dusk into the mix, while deep-pile carpeting continues the use of Midnight Blue, a rather recent addition to the BMW interior color palette.
Aluminum brake calipers employing what BMW refers to as bionic design are also part of the Night Sky treatment, and they come paired with milled rotors that display more of the Widmanstätten structure which is used functionally as grooves and channels to promote cooling. The entire setup was developed with the help of BMW Motorsport, and the 3D printed calipers are said to weigh 30% less than their conventionally produced counterparts.
According to BMW, the binders use exactly the necessary amount of metal needed for them to operate and nothing more, which lends itself to an appearance that some might liken to a natural bone structure found in the animal kingdom. Another benefit takes the form of brake fluid channels that are integrated in the actual structure of the design, while the setup looks quite attractive as a whole.
BMW has made more special versions and editions of its headlining performance and luxury models than one can keep track of over the past several years, but the M850i Night Sky seems like something quite a bit more intriguing than the typical introductory trim package. The use of materials and designs from deep space make for stunning visuals and an unmatched tactile experience, while the ideas and concepts were also applied to performance by way of the brakes which are quite interesting on their own.
No figures have been announced, but production is expected to limited, and we look forward to seeing one in the flesh before long.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]