Every person on earth who is lucky enough to have a stable, healthy, and safe lifestyle will eventually discover an irrefutable fact about themselves and their own humanity- there is a drive in each of us to push limits. This drive is so naturally ingrained, so deep within ourselves that most of us do not attempt to examine or explain it. But it is there. No matter what we do, no matter where our lives take us, each of us is simply built to exceed.
IND as a company is built on this principle. Our daily moves, each decision, each step is taken in an attempt to reach beyond ourselves. Some M enthusiasts may remember us from a project we completed in 2010, when a client of ours gifted us the opportunity to create our vision of the most possible from an E92 M3.
When BMW showed the world their next M5 masterpiece, there was no question among any of us that this car was our next mountain to climb. The car is beyond engineering marvel- it is a statement from BMW, a pure testament to the incredible level of excellence possible by this company. To move beyond what BMW delivered from the factory is a monumental task, but for us at IND it is not so much a question of how far should we go, but how far can we go. Over the upcoming year, the team at IND and our technology partners will push ourselves, this car, and our technical resources to their limits.
With the SEMA show less than 24 hours away from today, we are now ready to unveil stage 1 of the IND M5. The car’s current state is not only it’s first iteration in development, it’s also a mission statement- a preview of the car’s future direction. Stage 1 of our M5 was designed as homage to the amazing M3 GTS- BMW’s own track ready special edition M3. The car’s dynamics, appearance, sound, and safety equipment are modified with the intent to maintain the look and feel of a BMW special edition car, like the GTS itself.
IND has always been blessed with exceptionally strong relationships with our peers and partner companies, and we knew that a project of this caliber could not be completed without collaboration. We began assembling a team of the best and brightest in our industry, recruiting greats like AMS Performance, ESS Tuning, Eisenmann, KW, Recaro, and BBS. After hours of phone calls and meetings with our partners, the foundation for our project was laid, but it took only one phone call to change the stakes.
The moment we spoke with James at Falken Tire, we knew the build had entered a new dimension. The Falken Tire booth at the SEMA show proves to be the booth to watch year after year, showing the best and newest cars from tuners across the world. Each year Falken collects the best examples of cars created by the industry greats, and a simple stop at this booth will provide the SEMA attendee with a great view of what is happening now in our business. The stakes were high, and our M5 would be in the company of greats. We could not disappoint.
Thanks to Steve Thomas BMW, our M5 was one of the first delivered in the US, but in spite of this fast delivery the days leading to our car’s delivery were filled with anticipation. The SEMA show was a mere two months away from our M5’s delivery date. We had no time to waste, and no detail could be missed. A plan was in place before the car ever left California, but what would the M5 have in store when it finally arrived at our workshop? What surprises would the brand new engineering marvel hold? There was only one way to tell.
All eyes were on our new Alpine White machine the minute it rolled off of its enclosed transport. The car pulled slowly into our parking lot, it’s relatively sedate exhaust note failing to foreshadow our plans for the sedan. Our sense of accomplishment in simply acquiring the car was overshadowed by the tasks ahead, and we immediately got to work. Everything from seat positioning to tire sizing, wheel offset, and brake clearance had to be measured, checked, and evaluated as quickly as possible. Parts had to be ordered on the fly, and our partners had to move swiftly to help us make our goal a reality.
As each staff member helped to schedule and plan what would surely be a hectic few months, the team arrived at a logical first step- before we worked on any other aspects of the car we needed to install the prototype Carbon Fiber roof from Challenge Engineering. This single piece would net a nearly 50lb weight savings from the car, improving the car’s overall weight, center of gravity position, and overall performance. Cutting the roof from a brand new super sedan with a cost of nearly 6 figures is nothing if not exhilarating, and each of us looked on with a mixture of amusement and apprehension as the original metal roof panel was removed. Fortunately, the prototype roof panel fit perfectly and the install was completed without a hitch.
To accompany the lightweight roof panel, a Carbon Kevlar trunk, also made by Challenge Engineering was added to the car. We chose to paint the trunk in its entirety, so although the trunk saved an additional 22lbs, its presence goes unnoticed by the outside observer. Once again, the trunk saves weight in a key location on the car and will help improve performance in every category.
Our M5’s first stop was at the sprawling and spotless workshop of Fall Line Motorsports. If the three full-size race trailers do not inspire perfect confidence in Fall Line’s ability to build incredible race parts, the company’s history as a racing car builder and fabrication facility certainly speak for themselves. Fall Line was entrusted with a difficult task- our M5 had to have a “street friendly” roll bar for the SEMA show to go with our GTS style theme, but the simple roll bar had to convert to something more for the second phase of the car’s build. Fall Line designed a roll bar and seat mounts completely from scratch, and installed the safety equipment in less than one and a half weeks.
The seat mounts in question were designed to support one of my favorite pieces on the M5- the Carbon Kevlar Recaro Profi SPA seats. Recaro is a company of master craftsmen and engineers, and is responsible for seats found in factory built sports cars all over the world. Recaro’s racing experience is also second to none, and the ultra light, ultra strong Carbon Kevlar seats helped shed a tremendous amount of weight from the car. The seats were combined with a fire extinguisher and 6 point harnesses from Italian racing legends Sabelt for a complete safety package. Removing so much original safety equipment from the M5 meant that the highly intelligent computer system had a great deal to inform us of. The car’s safety notices were disabled by our crack programmer who learned the car’s computer systems literally as he went.
Once the interior components were added the M5 travelled to our upholsterer, where a custom rear closeout was built to closely resemble the original rear seat. The closeout paneling was constructed to reduce road noise and close the trunk area from the passenger compartment now that the M5 had a roll bar. The paneling was upholstered in a matching Alcantara fabric, and our master upholsterer even took the time to match the original BMW stitch pattern- a true artist’s touch!
The interior package was completed by adding extremely grippy aluminum performance pedals from 3D Design, along with a custom designed gauge pod by IND. Pressing the cup holder lid on our M5’s center console reveals a trio of Stack gauges, allowing for quick and easy reference to vitals like oil pressure, water temperature, and boost. Fortunately for us, the Stack boost gauge has a generous range of 30psi, allowing some extra room for future upgrades.
Like the M3 GTS, our M5 uses KW ClubSport coilovers. The ClubSports on the M5 include 3 way valving adjustment, so despite their excellent balance of handling performance and ride quality, they will retain the adjustability to function as a true performance coilover. The stainless steel strut housings, composite spring perches, and excellent sealing of the spherical bearings allow for year-round use, and are one of the many reasons BMW chose the same part on their own track-ready GTS model. We have lowered the M5 to have an aggressive stance perfect for the SEMA show, but will raise it to a more functional ride height next season, as the car prepares for track work.
Through our baseline testing we found that the braking system of the car was very well developed from the factory, but was not quite track-ready to its very street friendly nature. The brake fluid began to boil during hard use, and the brake pads were simply not up to the task. By working with CarboTech we have developed a series of brake pad applications for the F10 M5 pad shape, and our own M5 now sports their very track-capable XP12 compound in front, and XP10 compound in the rear pad position. Brake fluid has been changed to Castrol’s famous SRF fluid for the highest possible boiling point and moisture resistance.
Wheels can make or break the performance and visual impact of any car, and IND looked no further than the world famous BBS for our ideal wheel solution. BBS FI wheels reduced the car’s unsprung mass and provided the width necessary to use our planned tire sizes. Although the BBS FI is not available as a standard application for the F10 M5 just yet, our FI wheels fit the car perfectly thanks to some help from BBS. The wheels are refinished in Porsche’s beautiful Grauschwarz color, a grey that changes as you approach the car and perfectly highlights the wheel design while maintaining a subtle feel.
Falken Tire have been instrumental in pushing this project along, and have supplied the 275 width front and 305 width rear tires found on the FI wheels. The new FK453 tire is a strong mix of dry weather grip, wet weather traction, and low road noise that combine with our overall package to make this M5 a car that is useable on the road but also extremely capable when driven in anger.
The engineers at AMS Performance are already hard at work developing performance solutions for the S63tu engine, and IND will offer a host of staged power increase solutions to transform the M5. As the winter months unfold and we move toward our car’s second stage of development IND will reveal a host of AMS engineered upgrades for the F10 M5.
The already capable S63tu engine’s personality is enhanced with a complete Eisenmann exhaust system. Eisenmann’s exhaust bolts directly to the downpipes, it’s generous piping size and smooth bends evacuating spent exhaust gasses as quickly as possible from the monstrous quad 102mm tips. Hearing the S63tu engine uncorked is certainly an experience all of us will remember for years. The sound of the two turbochargers coupled with the V8s powerful rumble are a perfect combination, and are a perfect fit for the car’s sporting personality.
After a grueling one and a half months our M5 sat in our shop, mechanically complete. Although the car was functionally every bit the super sports sedan we had hoped for, it was still far from complete.
IND enlisted Japanese BMW tuner 3D Design to provide a front lip and rear diffuser combination that were both visually striking and light in weight. The pure Carbon Fiber construction of both pieces ensured that no significant weight was added to the car, and the excellent tooling and workmanship of 3D Design proved to result in a perfect fit. A 3D Design trunk spoiler in Carbon Fiber added to the car’s aggressive appearance. Gloss black front and side grilles, along with a custom painted M5 trunk badge rounded off the car’s exterior accessories.
Finally, the M5 was ready for the final and perhaps most important step of its preparation for the SEMA show. The folks at Falken Tire have granted their support not only throughout the project’s construction process, but also by hosting the car at their very own booth at the SEMA show. We enlisted the help of Jon Sibal, one of the great designers in our BMW community to help us create a theme and color scheme that would help make the car a clear fit in Falken’s booth while maintaining a clear IND feel and personality. After waiting a few weeks for the results, watching my computer download Jon’s rendering image file felt exactly like opening a Christmas gift. I knew something tremendous was in store, but Jon had left the design largely a surprise. The rendered M5 came to life on my screen with the entire IND team gathered around, and we all felt love at first sight.
Making the complex striping a reality was not easy, and we once again turned to our facility’s best paint professional for help. He has been employed at our shop for just over 30 years, and I knew we were in good hands.
Before we could paint Jon’s vision onto to body of our M5, a few final steps had to be completed. First, the front reflectors were permanently shaved from the front bumper, giving the car a more clean and cohesive appearance. Our next step was intended to take the car from a standard M5 to something truly SEMA-worthy. The entire car was stripped bare in a matter of 10 hours and refinished in Lamborghini’s Balloon White paint finish, with a special paint mixture. The Balloon White paint maintains the car’s original white exterior appearance, but upon closer inspection is a brilliant multi layer pearl which creates an unforgettable effect.
Our last step was to bring Jon Sibal’s design to life. Our head painter masked each portion of the stripe design purely by hand, carefully checking for perfect symmetry and the closest possible match to the original design. The Falken colors were applied to the car’s exterior, it’s roll cage, and the brake calipers to perfectly integrate the car with the rest of the Falken cars to be found at their SEMA booth.
Although we’ve reached the end of this thread, we have not reached the end of this M5’s story. The car’s current trim level provides a great base to build from, but is only the tip of the iceberg compared to the work ahead. Through this process, this M5 has taught me a lesson about human character. The pursuit of what’s next is not just a curiosity, it is built in to our collective psyche. Our M5, then, is not merely a project car. It is not merely a collection of parts, not just a showcase of possible additions to an already incredible super sedan. It is an attempt to portray this concept, to transform it into a living, breathing, moving machine.