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      11-23-2015, 10:45 AM   #35
evanevery
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Drives: i8 Roadster, M4, Tesla MX
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Wisconsin

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M4 GTX (the long story)

The build for this car started about 14 months prior to the final delivery. Many people were involved in making this happen and I would like to that each and every one of them for their effort and patience. The process has taken quite a while but I think the end result was well worth it – and I’ve made quite a few new friends along the way!

In August of 2014, during the yearly Nurburgring “Invitational”, our group visited the BMW M and Individual facilities in Garching. We also visited the M Test Facility at the Ring itself. BMW privately reserves the Ring for two whole days to support this event. The trip has been put together for several years by one of the BMW Driving instructors. Donnie is a big fan of the Ring and has been working to coordinate these trips largely through his own personal effort and contacts within BMW. I have gone twice now, and I’m quite sure this trip specifically results in more than one or two car sales each time it happens. Donnie is a great guy, and driving with him is the experience of a lifetime. I can only imagine how many M-Car Sales have ultimately resulted from his care and stewardship!

After spending time on the Ring with the (then) new M4, it was easy to see how special a car it really was. Much better, even, than the previous M3 generations. BMW had an M3 GTS on display at the M Test Facility at the Ring. The car was stunning! An iconic Fire Orange paint and contrasting black accents. In fact, my driving instructor for the Ring classes was Rolf Schiebner – the project manager for the M3 GTS.



Hi Rolf! In having already met with Thomas at BMW Individual, a plan was starting to come together…

As soon as I got home from the 2014 Ring trip, Thomas and I started exchanging email on how to best package the enhanced performance of the new M4 with the look and style of the original M3 GTS. (Little did I know that an actual M4 GTS would be announced a little over a year later – but NOT in the iconic M3 GTS colors…).

Working with Thomas at BMW Individual was great! We spoke about custom paint (Fire Orange) and what could be done with the interior to help bring it all together. Thomas sent me some photos of similar (Orange) interior work that had been done and I decided on a simple Black Extended Leather interior with contrasting orange stitching (including the brake gaiter and console). There was one problem though… The M4 would not enter the full Individual Program until March of next year (2015). We worked to get all the details sorted out and then waited for when we could submit the order.

Around the end of December, I got back in touch with Thomas and we prepared to place the order (hoping for a March build date). The next step was to get BMWNA involved so we could get pricing for the build. Yes, we were working completely in reverse order but it was very efficient and straight forward. Once we got Maria on board from BMWNA, the next step was to find someone to actually sell me the vehicle. As I was planning on doing an ED or PCD, it really didn’t matter which dealer I chose, but I still wanted to work with someone fairly local.

I went around to several dealers in the SE Wisconsin area to try and get an idea of pricing. I was clear with each of them that although I was doing an Individual order, we would simply use a fully optioned M4 as a basis for competitive pricing. Unfortunately, the dealer I most recently purchased 2 other M cars from would not give me a straight up competitive quote. All they would say was “bring me your best offer and we’ll meet it”. I thought this was pretty crappy – and I told them so. Other dealers were sharpening their pencils to give me a reasonable offer and these guys just wanted to swoop in and grab the order. I decided NOT to play this game. Instead, I chose a different dealer who gave me a good price, understood my goals, and was easy to work with. From this point on, Margy at Concours BMW in Milwaukee would be working my order. Margy was a little unfamiliar with the process but I felt comfortable that she would work through the details necessary to make this happen. We were now ready to get the paperwork submitted.

The build was to be a fully optioned M4 Coupe with EVERYTHING but the sunroof (I wanted the Carbon Fiber Roof). The car would be painted in Individual Fire Orange, have an Individual Extended Black Marino Leather interior with Orange contrasting stitching (to include the console and brake gaiter) with Carbon Fiber Interior Trim. In addition, we were also going to have almost the entire array of M-Performance parts installed prior to delivery. This would include The M-Performance Exhaust, Carbon Tips, Rear Diffuser, Black Grills and Side Gills, Carbon Fiber Mirror Caps, Carbon Fiber Front Splitters, Lower Splitter Lip (Painted Black), Rocker Blades (Painted Black), Carbon Fiber Rear Lip Spoiler, and the M-Performance Steering Wheel.

Unfortunately, a European Delivery was going to be out of the question as none of the performance parts could be installed prior to the car being landed stateside at the POE/VDC. Understandably, they also won’t do a parts install stateside once the customer has taken delivery (in Europe). So a PDC delivery was in order. That was OK! I’ve done two prior M car deliveries at the PDC so this was going to be fun in any case. It’s a really special process with a bit of track time (in THEIR cars). Plus, by the time I get back to Wisconsin, I’m basically done with my break-in! Doing a delivery at the PDC is also a really good pre-cursor to doing an M-School at the PDC. Then once you do an M-School, you are eligible to do an Advanced School at Virginia International Raceway or Road Atlanta. Maybe, once you start doing a few Advanced Schools, you might even find yourself invited to the Ring with some of the new friends you have made along the way! In any case, the BMW Instructors are all very accomplished drivers, amazing instructors, and great folks to hang out with!

As we started working to get the order submitted in January, we were informed that special order paints for the M4 were going to be pushed back by several weeks because the painting process was “overbooked”. In originally working for a March/April MY2015 build, we were now looking at May or June. Since this was going to be pretty close to the MY2016 cut-over, I decided to shelf the 2015 order and wait a “couple of more weeks” for a June/July 2016MY vehicle. We were on hold again…

We were hoping to get pricing info and be able to actually get the order submitted sometime at the front of the MY2016 order line. Maria was keeping an eye on things so I knew I was in good hands. As we get closer to the June order system cut over to MY2016, Maria continues to try and get my order submitted. The orders get kicked back for several weeks. Finally, on May 15th, we get the order submitted and have a formal production number assigned for a 2016 Fire Orange M4 Coupe.

As we wait for a production date to be assigned, I am informed that any/all Individual Paint orders for M4 Coups in the Munich plant would be pushed back to dates starting in Sept 2015. This wasn’t just Fire Orange, this was reportedly for any/all M4 Coup individual paint jobs. Apparently the paint robots in the Munich plant were some of the oldest and it was a fairly laborious task to get them to paint the more challenging colors. I finally get a week 38 Production Date around Sept 9th. The wait continues…

Additionally, I learn the Fire Orange paint is not just an Individual Paint, it is a “Restricted” Individual Paint. As it was explained to me, the paint and the process were pretty technical and time consuming. Apparently, BMW, even with normal schedules, only painted one car world-wide per week in this color due to the complexity of the process. If you’ve ever seen the depth and glow of the Fire Orange paint, it’s an easy explanation to accept. I was sure it would be worth the wait in any case.

Now I’m thinking that maybe the production/shipment of the car is going to roughly coincide with the 2015 BMW Nurburgring “Invitational”. We would be in Munich at the beginning of October (the final weekend of Oktoberfest). So maybe, with a September production, my car might actually be over at the M Studio getting its final Individual touches while I am there. That would be cool, but I certainly would not want to hold up any shipment just to try and see it a little earlier…

The beginning of July I get a note from Maria that my production has been moved up to the 3rd week in August. Woohoo! I’ll take it!

Around the beginning of August, I get a note from another forum member who has told that any/all Fire Orange orders have been cancelled. Now, while I’m sure that Maria or Thomas would have told me this, I have to ask them “what’s up?” Apparently, the rumor is true. No more Fire Orange orders are being accepted and almost all of the existing orders have been cancelled or modified. However, Thomas has saved my order! Given all the time and effort involved in getting this order together, BMW agrees to paint just one more Fire Orange M4 Coupe! I’m relieved! It’s going to happen!

Time to start looking for a rear wing. A GTS needs one! BMW didn’t offer one, so I dropped my friends at IND an email to see what they had in their bag of tricks. IND did the Eisenman exhaust and a few other items on my M6 and I was very impressed with their attention to detail and their design perspective. A young energetic, resourceful, and dependable company is always good to work with! Nate at IND had a couple of options. We first looked at the RKP Wing but I didn’t care for the arc in the profile. AC Schnitzer also had a couple of wings and the short one was definitely a possibility. Nate then sent me a link to the Motorsport24 Carbon Fiber Wing and I thought it looked really good. Fairly conservative and not too crazy. We had a wing selected. We were also going to add a set of BBS F1-R wheels in Satin Black with Yokohama Advan AD08-R Tires, the Fall Line Oil Cooler Shield, and Black M4 Badging. The wing would be shipped in directly from Germany.

I’m also working to get a delivery date established. I had a 2-Day Advanced M-School scheduled for 16/17 November, so maybe I could take delivery on Fri Nov 13th, and then just drive over to VIR that Sunday. We get the PDC delivery scheduled for the 13th, with the VIR School on Mon/Tues (16/17). That leaves me Wednesday (18) to drive back home. I give IND a shout, and they confirm an installation appointment for Thursday the 19th to get the Wing/Wheels installed. So its direct form VIR to Chicago to have IND do their magic and then back home by Friday the 20th. OK, I’m on a roll… So I set up Windows tinting for the following Monday the 23rd and then my 1200 mile service appointment for Tuesday the 24th. Everything is all lined up and ready to go. The stars have all aligned. The ducks are all in a row. Now all I need is the car!

The end of September rolls around and it’s time for the Ring trip. Folks start arriving in Munich the weekend before the Ring event. We get together for Oktoberfest, more than a beer or two, several dinners, and a few day excursions. Then it’s off to the Ring! Donnie has some really great friends at BMW. We get a private tour of the M Facility in Garching. This includes the basement garage (not open to the public). Lots of interesting cars in the basement including an M1, a CLS, and another beautiful M3 GTS. Our tour guide won’t acknowledge it, won’t even look at it, but there is also an M2 still partially clad in camo over in the corner. Those who know are free to walk over and examine the car. Very Cool! BMW has another surprise for us. We go upstairs to the Individual Studio and they take the cover off the brand new M4 GTS. It’s the real deal. The actual car. The frozen grey car you may have seen in the photos. It’s the day before they formally announce the GTS, but it’s here. They start it up. It sounds wonderful. We climb inside. Just no photo’s please!

I meet with Thomas again. It’s been a year a more than a few emails. My car is not here, but he has photos. Wonderful photos! The car looks great! It passed through the facility a couple of weeks ago and is now down in Bimmer-Haven waiting for shipment. The photos are great but this is before any of the M-Performance accessories get installed. So it’s not yet complete. I’ll have to wait for the delivery to see any more… I’m also told this is the ONLY 2016 M4 Coupe produced in Fire Orange and there won’t be any more until they get the paint robots replaced at the Munich plant (at least 2017).

In the two Ring trips I have done, BMW M has treated us wonderfully. This is the second year they are providing our group a fleet of M cars for 5 days to drive up to the Ring and back (350 KM each way on the Autobahn). Last year they gave us Ten M4’s. This year it’s a mix of the new model X5M and X6M’s. All they ask is we wash them and fill them up when we bring them back! You want to know how to show customer appreciation? This is how it’s done! The level of customer loyalty this fosters simply cannot be paid for. Thank you Donnie for knowing all the right people at BMW and helping to garner these benefits! Everyone loves this. More cars are sold… After two days on the Ring, and BARELY not making it on some YouTube crash video when it started raining, I’m headed back home. Its now a couple of weeks before delivery.

I fly down to Greenville-Spartanburg and it’s finally here – delivery day! The Performance Delivery Center is undergoing construction so my effort to sit at a window on the right side of the bus from the Marriott is fruitless. None of the glass bays have cars in them – just construction. We sign in, say hello, and get a brief orientation. It’s great to see Donnie and Laura again. Tommy and Andy are there as well. Then it’s time for a break. Donnie takes me out back and my car is there under a delivery tent. Truly amazing! The car is complete with all M-Performance Accessories. It just keeps getting better and better!

We do the on-track exercises (with BMW Vehicles) and its time for my delivery. I’ve been around the M4 before. I’ve spent four total days on the Ring in an M4 over the last couple of trips. Drove one back and forth to the Ring on the Autobahn. I’m already pretty familiar with the car. So Donnie asks me what I want to go over for the orientation. We cover some more of the interesting details and start working through my personal configuration of the car. I establish my M1/M2 settings and then we notice it… My steering wheel has no M1/M2 buttons! Uh oh! I have the M-Performance Steering wheel with the shift lights, lap timer, and a bunch of other goodies, but there are no M Buttons! Donnie starts working more of his magic. He grabs Jonathon, one of the guys who works in the PDC Body/Repair shop to get more info. Apparently, when they install the wheel, they take the original wheel off the car and then swap the actual steering “ring” while keeping the spokes (and buttons) from the original. Speculation is that they must have been doing a wheels for couple of cars at the same time at the POE and they got mixed up. Perhaps the other one was not an M car – so no buttons. So now I’m missing my M buttons and some other guy in a non-M car is running around wondering why the M buttons on his shiny new steering wheel don’t work… Well, I have my 1200 mile service scheduled in a little over a week so I’ll just call ahead and have them add this to the to do list. All things considered I’m OK with that. However, Jonathan tells me they might have the parts on hand in their shop to fix it right now. If so, it might only take an hour or so to get it done. Did I mention its lunch time? Jonathon and Jerry take the car. Too good to be true! I get my car back just after lunch. All is well. Perfect, in fact! More folks helping make this happen. Thanks guys!

It’s Friday and I don’t have to be at VIR until Sunday afternoon. I decide to hang out in Asheville with Donnie and Laura. I take the back roads up through Brevard, onto the Blue Ridge Parkway, and into Asheville. Asheville is a really great town. Friendly people and lots of micro-breweries. I leave Sunday morning and drive another 200 miles up the Blue Ridge Parkway to help with a proper break-in. 6-1/2 hours to VIR (everyone else from the PDC takes about 3 hours). Two days at VIR. NASCAR legend Ricky Rudd is one of the “students” in our class! Good news is that I’m in the ‘fast group” with Ricky, bad news is that I’m in the car directly behind him. I spent a lot of time trying to catch him during the first day before they cut him loose with a private instructor. Lots of fun as always. M3’s, M4’s, and M5’s on an epic race track – can’t go wrong!

I get the car to IND in Chicago on Wednesday afternoon. I get the word that they will likely be done by the next morning. This is great! Looks like I’ll be home early. They put the wheels on while we chat. We sit the wing on the trunk lid. The Wing and Wheels look great! I’m still not sure about the Carbon Fiber Rear Lip Spoiler though. I chose NOT to have it installed at the POE and just shipped it to IND instead. That way we could look at the car with the Wing installed and see if the Spoiler made the back end look to busy. Meanwhile Fall Line has been busy making a couple of custom mounting brackets for the Motorsport24 Wing. Nate (IND) and I both looked at the default mounting brackets a couple of weeks back and both thought they could be better designed to help spread the load under the trunk lid. Nate got with Fall Line and they used one of the trunk lids from a cars in the shop to engineer a new improved set of stainless mounting brackets for the wing. The brackets are much stronger than the original ones. We mock up the wing on the back of the car and decide NOT to install the CF Trunk Lid Spoiler. Finally, I’m back to the hotel, and ready to see the finished product in the morning.

The car keeps getting more amazing each day. The wing is on with new wheels/tires, blacked out M4 badge, Fall Line oil cooler guard, and a few more carbon fiber accessories to the interior (shift knob and console trim). I’m a big fan of NOT running stuff over in the first place, but the Fall Line oil cooler guard is VERY heavy duty and will add a nice level of insurance for road debris. Once again, the folks at IND have worked their particular brand of Magic! IND also does a photo shoot on the car. Everyone is pretty happy how all this is coming around.

The final touch is the tinted windows. Blackout Window Tinting in Waukesha has done all my other vehicles (including an M6 and an X6M) and they always do good work. Scott, the owner, is a good guy and always takes care of me. We tint the windows to 40%. Not so much as to get John Q Law all worked up or provide a handicap on overcast track days.

It’s been a long process. It’s also been a lot of fun. I’ve met a lot good people, and made some new friends, along the way. I’ve also learned to appreciate the sweet agony of anticipation. It’s nice to see that BMW will be making an actual M4 GTS, and while it’s thrown a wrench in my plans to have an “M4 GTS” vanity plate, I’m kind of happy they won’t be doing any in Fire Orange.

So if you see a 2016 M4 Coup in Fire Orange – It’s me. …and if you are wondering why the license plate says “M4 GTX”, it’s simply because “Midlife Crisis” wouldn’t fit…

Last edited by evanevery; 11-23-2015 at 10:47 AM.. Reason: formatting