Since the late eighties, BMW M has gone out of their way to ensure that their most special cars receive an equally special color palette accentuating their racing heritage. And when it came to naming these more exclusive colors, it used to be simple – find a racetrack, name a color.
But lately enthusiasts (I assume having run out of things to complain about) have noted that colors are no longer following this familiar scheme, but there’s a pretty obvious reason for that. For one, there’s only so many racetracks in the world, and new ones don’t pop up overnight.
Secondly, with BMW’s Individual program, there already exists a nearly endless catalogue of colors – but also meaning they can’t really reuse track names. So today, we’ll take a look at five of the newer additions to BMW’s color palette and where exactly these new colors hail from.
Debuting on the M2 Competition a couple years ago, Hockenheim Silver is one of the most popular new colors. Its name comes from the Hockenheimring, near the town of Hockenheim in Germany. The track has been a mainstay in the DTM racing series (perhaps a reason influencing BMW’s decision to include it), generally being run twice every year since its redesign in the early 2000s.
Sadly, BMW left DTM in 2020, after 339 total races spanning over 16 years. Disappointing to see BMW bid farewell to DTM, but at least we got an admittedly excellent color out of it.
Adelaide Grey debuted on the X3 M, and it’s named for a street circuit in Adelaide, South Australia. Notably, Adelaide was the site of the “Race of a Thousand Years” in 2000, an endurance race which concluded the 2000 American Le Mans Series on New Years Eve. It’s also a favorite of the insane, quintessentially Australian, V8 powered “Supercars” racing series, with the Adelaide 500 at one time drawing crowds of nearly 300,000.
Also debuting on the X3/X4 M, Toronto Red pulls its name from “Canada’s Home of Motorsport” – Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, otherwise known as Mosort International Raceway. As Canada’s oldest continuously operating road-racing facility, it’s been home to dozens of different racing series – including Canadian Superbike, which regularly features the BMW S1000RR. Notably, the five millionth BMW built in the US was a Toronto Red X5 M, assembled on June 4, 2020.
The newest color we’ve looked at so far, Brooklyn Grey debuted on the G80 and G82 M3 and M4, and soon “trickling down” to a few other models as well. Brooklyn Grey’s origins stem from the Brooklyn Street Circuit, the first on the list from the United States and also the only one that has its beginnings in Formula E. The muted, subdued shade of the paint fits the name well when you consider the circuit, and its role in what is certainly the quietest motorsport in history.
This one is fun! Re-introduced (you read that right – this isn’t a new color!) on the G80/G82 as an interior option, Kyalami Orange has an interesting history. Named after Kyalami Racing Circuit in Midrand South Africa (near Johannesburg), it actually debuted over 20 years ago on the E36/7 M Roadster in 1997.
For some reason, only pre-production and prototype units ever received the color, and it was never offered as an exterior color to the public. Much more interesting is that one of these prototype orange roadsters also received the M73 V12 from the 850i, paired to a six speed manual transmission.
Because in 1999, BMW was still down to party like that. Kyalami remained available as an interior option on the Z3, and is now available as an interior color option on the new M3 and M4.
The Next Generation
While that’s just a few of the more recent colors to be introduced (or re-introduced as the case may be), what happens when we run out of racetracks? Curiously, minerals and stones seem to be high on the list. You’ve got Tanzanite, Aventurine, Ametrin, Dravit…all seemingly originating from the world of, um, rocks. Which, admittedly, are less interesting than racetracks.
We’ve also got colors like Storm Bay and Blue Ridge – which are apparently just named for notable landmarks in Tasmania and the United States, respectively. It could also be wine; either scenario seems equally probable (who could forget “Champagne Quartz”?).
Wherever the new naming conventions go, I’m excited to see what kind of colors get cooked up. With Sao Paulo Yellow and Isle of Man Green (and recently Portimao Blue on the LCI X3 M) being heavily featured on the newest M cars, its nice to see BMW getting especially adventurous with colors. I have a feeling it will stay that way – even when all the race track names get used up.