Killing Time With The BMW Individual Configurator

I’ve got a bit of a unique relationship with auto configurators. I’ve spent untold hours on the BMW USA website, building everything from base-model 3 Series daily drivers to fully-loaded V12 7 Series sedans. I’ve spent time on configurators for other brands too, building garage candidates from GT Porsches that end up costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, to the diesel truck I might use to tow said Porsche, in an enclosed trailer of course.

That being said, the number of builds I’ve actually completed, and gotten to the summary page for, is disproportionately smaller. Whether it’s an overwhelming number of options, or the model being just too far outside the realm of reality for my mind’s conceptual time horizon, somewhere along the way with many builds, I lose interest and end up closing the window or tab. I exhibit this strange behavior least with BMW, but I often attributed this to our favorite brand offering one of the best online configurators out there for nearly twenty years now, and the practical bundling of options within packages which makes most decisions pretty cut and dry. Finally, actually owning a few cars that I built what must have been thousands of times over the years before actually buying also helps cut down on the daydreaming.

The M8 and M8 Competition were just recently added to the U.S. site and the global BMW Individual configurator though, and I must admit that I’ve since wasted several precious hours of my life that I’ll never recover building countless variations of them. The M850i Gran Coupe is there too, along with most of the portfolio with the exception of some models that are about to be succeeded by new generations. Before I knew it, I had fallen into a virtual dealership showroom stocked exclusively with a Skittles rainbow assortment of fast, good looking BMWs.

It seems like a fair assessment to say that most aren’t into the Mint Green look. Distinctly different than Seafoam, the last several years have witnessed a handful of Paint-to-Sample Porsches and Individual BMW models finished in eye-catching Mint Green tones like the one above, which is classified in the BMW catalog under code W97. This wild, borderline offensive color caught my eye for a number of reasons. With one notable exception—a Technoviolet E36 M3—most of the several BMWs I’ve owned over the years have been silver, grey, or some kind of blue that looks like silver and grey. More importantly, however, was my first vehicle, a low-mileage, former Forest Service Jeep finished in the government entity’s favorite green color, which isn’t too far off from BMW’s current offering. I’m not sure if I would actually ever order a Mint Green M8, because the range-topping coupe might just be a bit too large for such a bold color, but I have seen it on an M4 in the flesh. Either way it’s a neat color and I’m glad BMW will sell you a car painted in it from the factory.

Miami Blue is actually a Porsche color, but applying it to a droptop M8 Competition just seemed natural for some reason. Perhaps even bolder and more noticeable than Mint Green, Miami Blue looks very sharp on the M8 Convertible, and pairs extremely well with the Ivory interior which features contrasting dark blue portions in all the right places. If I ever find myself in the fortunate position of being able to own an M8, I will probably opt for a color much more subtle and under-the-radar compared to Miami Blue, as I’d like to at least try to enjoy its capabilities without being indicted. But for the well-heeled buyer who doesn’t have to care, why not?

The M850i makes a great canvas for too many BMW Individual colors to mention. However, the fact that you can spec the model with expensive and ultra lightweight BMW M Performance BBS Y-spoke wheels in Frozen Gold made Tanzanite Blue another natural fit. There are more than 25 different blue colors you can choose for the M850i Gran Coupe in the Individual configurator, but having seen the transformative properties of Tanzanite in the flesh on more than one occasion, I knew it would be a near perfect combination with the BBS wheels. This might just be my favorite build of the dozens I went through before writing this article.

BMW used to offer stunning blue interior colors, but after the E30 and E34, they largely vanished from U.S. option sheets. This recently changed with the 4 Series facelift and the addition of Night Blue leather to the catalog, and I chose the same color for the cabin of this M850i. Normally I would avoid blue on blue, but Night Blue is so much darker and subtle than the exterior that it seemed like a good choice.

Here’s a bit of a throwback; an F90 M5 Competition finished in Petrol Mica Metallic, a color that rest-of-world customers could order on the E34 M5. Petrol Mica has been offered through the BMW Individual catalog a handful of times since the E34, most notably on the E46 M3. It’s an incredibly transformative color that needs to be appreciated in direct sunlight to be fully understood. The current M5 isn’t a small car by any means, but I know it wears metallics like Marina Bay Blue, the launch color, quite well. Paying homage to one of the more under-appreciated cars of the entire M catalog, the E34 M5, also seems like a great role for Petrol Mica on the latest generation of the original super sedan.

 

M Aficionados should be familiar with Macao Blue. It was used on a handful of special and limited-production E30 M3s like the Evo II back in the day, and more recently reappeared on the F80 M3 30 Jahre. Like some of my favorite metallic colors in the BMW catalog such as Carbon Black for example, Macao Blue has a transformative property that is most evident in the harshest of sunlight, and it seems to suit the shape of the M4 coupe quite well. It also pairs nicely with one of my favorite sets of wheels that BMW currently offers, seen here in their nineteen-inch form as opposed to the twenties on the M850i. LCI lights look great on the F82, and another change I opted for was the M Performance exhaust with titanium tips.

Carbon structure anthracite cloth upholstery isn’t a BMW Individual offering, but it’s always been my default choice when it comes to building an F80 or F82 in the configurator. For thin individuals like myself, it works well to hold one in place during dynamic driving. It’s also hard wearing, and seems to stand up to years of use better than leather in the instances I’ve seen. BMW has offered partial cloth interiors for numerous M cars in the past, and I dig almost all of the patterns and color schemes. I hope they continue to give customers the choice of cloth on the next-gen M3, which we should be hearing about (and wasting time configuring) very soon.—Alex Tock

[Photos via BMW Individual Configurator.]

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