Published on January 4th, 2019 | by Subhash Nair0
This One-Off BMW M850i Is Made of Star Stuff… Sort of
The BMW Individual Manufaktur customisation facility in Garching has produced another spectacular one-off: the M850i Night Sky. The surface design of the luxury sports car’s trim finishers, seat backrests, brake discs and exterior add-on part draws inspiration from celestial bodies.
The BMW Individual M850i Night Sky was presented in the run-up to an exceptionally intense meteor shower expected to take place overnight from 3 – 4 January 2019. The show of shooting stars will begin when the Earth briefly passes through the orbit of the asteroid 2003 EH, during which time fragments from the asteroid will enter our planet’s atmosphere and burn up. On rare occasions, smaller rocks in space penetrate our planet’s protective shield and fall to Earth as meteorites. Some of these extra-terrestrial fragments have now been incorporated into the cabin of the BMW Individual M850i Night Sky.
By employing materials that are literally out of this world, BMW Individual Manufaktur has succeeded in giving the car unique and highly original aesthetic appeal and, in the process, pushed back the boundaries once again of what can be achieved when designing a car interior. The meteoritic rock adorns the whole of the centre console’s trim plate, the start/stop button for the V8 engine, the selector lever for the eight-speed Steptronic transmission and the Touch Controller for the iDrive system, creating a visual and tactile effect unparalleled in the automotive sector. Inlays made from meteorite material have also been incorporated into the door sill finishers, together with an illuminated model badge. All of which ensures the BMW Individual M850i Night Sky embodies luxury and exclusivity at an unprecedented level.
Expanding on the use of meteoritic material for the controls inside the sports car, the design of many other interior and exterior elements takes its cues from a structure that only occurs in natural form on extra-terrestrial objects: the distinctive Widmanstätten surface pattern of meteorites. The strictly geometric structure, with its straight lines, has the appearance of ice crystals and becomes visible when certain types of iron meteorite are polished or brought into contact with acidic compounds. The structure is the result of the metal alloy cooling down in an extremely slow process that cannot be reproduced on Earth, making it an unmistakable signature of extra-terrestrial material. The unique pattern was first observed back in the early 19th century by a number of people, including the Austrian scientist Alois von Beckh Widmanstätten, after whom it is named.
The BMW Group harnessed both its motor sport know-how and its expertise in the application of 3D printing for aluminium components to help it develop and manufacture the pioneering, bionic-design brakes. When creating the brake callipers, it was possible to reduce their mass to the minimum required to meet technical requirements, meaning that only the material needed for the brakes to work is used. The resulting form, whose construction mimics that of bones – with an optimum balance between component rigidity and weight – can only be produced using an additive manufacturing method and not with conventional casting techniques. What is more, it was possible to incorporate the brake fluid channels into the structure of the brake callipers. Additive manufacturing was again key to producing this integral design, which has additional benefits for the installation and rigidity of the lightweight braking system.
BMW Individual fine-grain Merino leather trim in tri-colour design and the Opal White/Midnight Blue/Silver colour scheme constitute another first for interior styling. The Widmanstätten structure – a defining feature of the BMW Individual M850i Night Sky interior – is repeated in the stitching pattern for the seat centre sections.
The centre console armrests add another touch of brilliance, their special design inspired by the glittering heavens at night. LED units are used to illuminate their surfaces, producing the effect of a star-studded sky and giving the luxury sports car’s cabin a richly atmospheric feel. Deep-pile carpeting in Midnight Blue puts the finishing touches to the stylish interior ambience.
The exterior paintwork of the BMW Individual M850i Night Sky adds to its captivating aura. The BMW Individual special paint finish deftly combines two colour tones to achieve a high-impact effect. Black non-metallic was used as the base colour for the body. A second coat in San Marino Blue metallic was then painted over it in a graduated effect from the bottom edge of the body up to the top of the wheel arches. Finally, three layers of clear coat with varying pigment particle sizes were applied to give the paint finish a remarkable sense of depth.