Twelve years after the BMW M3 GT2 art car by Jeff Koons was first shown to the public, the artist and BMW are collaborating once again on a new project referred to as the 8 X Jeff Koons. Based on a BMW M850i Gran Coupé LCI, the 8 X Jeff Koons wears a loud and in-your-face designed dreamed up by the famous artist.
Known for his pop art, the Jeff Koons treatment applied to the M850i does not disappoint, with the word “POP!” appearing on both of the rear doors, just behind respective vapor thrust graphics which work together to symbolize the model’s power and speed. The front and back contrast the body thanks to yellow bumpers, while the rear features exploding lines of color which act as an homage to the 2010 E92 M3 GT2 art car that was raced at Le Mans.
The exterior design of the 8 X Jeff Koons requires eleven different stages and takes 285 hours to complete. A total of 99 units are to be produced and sold worldwide, and the price of the exclusive version of the 8 Series is $350,000. The 8 X Jeff Koons became available for preorder on February 16 shortly after 6 p.m. EST on BMWUSA.com, after being unveiled at Frieze Los Angeles. Because of the intensive painting and assembly processes, just two examples will be produced each week until the total of 99 has been realized.
“My edition of the BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe is a dream come true. It is completely unique, very special to me and I’ve wanted to create a special edition BMW for a long time,” said Jeff Koons. “What matters is how we relate to each other and our awareness of everything we are surrounded by. This principle drove my creative vision for THE 8 X JEFF KOONS, and it’s an exciting next chapter of co-creation with BMW.”
“Working with Jeff Koons again has inspired us all – throughout headquarters and across our worldwide team,” said Oliver Zipse, chairman of the Board of Management, BMW AG. “Never before in the history of our company has a BMW been created with such an extensive design effort as THE 8 X JEFF KOONS. A ‘rolling sculpture’ that will not only be displayed as a coveted collector’s item in museums but will also be allowed to flourish on the road as a genuine BMW.”
The interior of the 8 X Jeff Koons is lined with fine leather in tones that evoke memories of comic books and super heroes. That was the intent, and the cupholder cover on the center console displays “The 8 X Jeff Koons” text along with the artist’s signature within a Bavarian Blue quadrant of a BMW roundel. The process of conceiving, designing, and ultimately readying the 8 X Jeff Koons for production took place over several months, and required several collaborative visits, with Koons working with BMW’s design and engineering teams.
Every example of the 8 X Jeff Koons will be accompanied by what’s described as a large-format certificate of authenticity displaying the individual vehicle’s VIN, along with the signatures of Jeff Koons and BMW Chairman and CEO Oliver Zipse.
Plastic exterior panels and pieces required for the 8 X Jeff Koons are painted at BMW Group Plant Landshut, and the process to paint one car takes 285 hours and requires eleven stages. The tailgate alone requires seven different colors and twelve coats of paint with a total thickness of no more than 250 microns, or about two-and-a-half times the diameter of a human hair. To handle the task, BMW’s Landshut plant developed a so-called multi-tone paint process. Approximately 100 employees are involved in the project at the plant, but technology in the form of a laser projection system to verify the accuracy of every detail is also used. The laser projection system is particularly important in ensuring the quality of areas of the design that are hand-stenciled, a process that is every bit a finely-honed craft.
“The biggest challenge was to understand and capture the spirit of the artist right from the start and to implement his very precise demands in detail by hand in a technical small-series process,” explains Hermann Knott, head of production paint and finish at BMW Group Plant Landshut. “This is also a very special project for us – because these cars are really sculptures on wheels.”
Production of the 8 X Jeff Koons is slated to commence in March at BMW Group Plant Dingolfing. Once again, like the process required to paint the plastic exterior panels at Landshut, the process at Dingolfing is largely focused on paint, with eight of the total eleven colors of the design used. A team of roughly twenty employees applies each layer of lettering, graphic elements, and colored lines, usually with the help of stencils or foils, before the layer is then sealed with clear coat.
Due to of the number of individual elements within the design and the array of colors used, the exterior of each car is routinely brushed to ensure smoothness in areas of transition so that they cannot be felt or detected by hand. The larger team responsible for assembling the 8 X Jeff Koons relies on specialists with experience in working on custom paintwork for the BMW 7 Series and the Rolls-Royce brand. The team works in three shifts around the clock, and also includes former paint apprentices who are described as being among the best in the country.
“We are proud to produce these ‘sculptures on wheels’ here in Dingolfing and to share our extensive car building know-how, our attention to detail, our precision and the craftsmanship of our employees,” says Christoph Schröder, head of Plant Dingolfing. “It is also a very special small series for us and an honour to work with one of the most renowned artists of our time.”
Announced via a digital world premier on February 16 at Frieze Los Angeles, the first 8 X Jeff Koons will displayed for in-person viewing at Rockefeller Plaza in New York City from April 1–4. Production is scheduled to begin in march with a total of 99 units planned. The $350,000 MSRP is $250,100 higher than that of a standard M850i Gran Coupé, but one of the 99 units will be auctioned by Christie’s on April 4, with all proceeds benefitting the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC), an organization with which Jeff Koons has reportedly been personally involved for over twenty years.—Alex Tock
[Photos and video courtesy BMW AG.]