I had an opportunity to visit BMW owned Body and Paint Center in Garching, Germany. This is the same city where the ///M Division HQ is located and they are about 400 meters away from each other.
Primary objective of the trip was to pick up my friend David Baker's US spec E90 M3 Frozen Gray that was involved in a minor incident where the entire right side of the car was scratched. David Baker is the Managing Director of Pentagon Car Sales and a true ///M enthusiast. Our journey started on Friday morning departing Pentagon Car Sales location in Ramstein-Miesenbach. For this trip we decided to drive his brand new US Spec F13 M6 with a first-ever series production Akrapovic Evo exhaust (more details below) to pick up his M3 in Garching. The car has already been properly broken in, and we were able to test the limits of the beast. However, due to the limiter, we were only able to reach speeds of 267km/h (165mph), but getting to the limit took no time and no effort. This thing is a true Autobahn monster. Our 500 kilometer trip took us about 4 hours to get to Garching (hit some major traffic jams on the way there). When we arrived at the BMW Body and Paint Center we were greeted by one of the reception managers, who took us directly to David's M3. The M3 was already waiting for us in the delivery bay, where we were given briefing on how the car was painted and what was done to the car. It was unfortunate that David had a minor incident, but fortunately he was able to capitalize on the incident. His entire right side, hood, front bumper was completely repainted according to the factory standards by the very own BMW Body and Paint Center. Since this is a US Spec car, David requested that the shop replaces the US Spec front bumper with the Euro spec bumper. He also ordered a BMW Performance rear spoiler and had the shop color match it to Frozen Gray. You can see the results below. It was time to proceed onto our secondary objective of the trip, but before that David handed me the keys to his ///M6 and told me that he wants me to drive it home (500 kilometers), while he drives his freshly painted M3. I couldn’t object, after all, what are friends for.
I almost forgot, after the briefing with the reception manager we grabbed a "quick" lunch near by. When we returned to collect the M3, we got a nice tour of the BMW Body & Paint Center. I was told by the manager to put the camera away as they do not allow pictures inside, because there might be some prototypes that came in for touch ups. The tour was pretty extensive, where the manager went into very fine details. This center is the biggest Body & Paint shop in the world owned by BMW. There are bays after bays and each bay has a specific purpose. When the car gets delivered for touch ups, repaint, or whatever it needs done to its damaged body, it goes through a series of bays. Everything is precisely tracked, documented, prepared and completed. And the center is just like BMW itself, very well organized, clean, purposeful and first class. I was very impressed with all the little details we were shown when it comes to repainting the car to the factory standards using very own BMW Paint Center. The center does around 600 cars a month, and there is nothing they can't paint. 20% of the cars coming in are from BMW company fleet. Any BMW color ever available, they can do. They can also do an Individual color if the customer couldn't get it originally from BMW, however when we asked about price, we were given estimate of 10K to 15K Euro. Manager told us that there have been brand new cars to the center, never driven by customer and got individual paint, since it wasn't available on the specific model.
Our secondary objective was to visit ///M Division Headquarters and the ///M Studio in Garching. So, after we picked up the M3 and I followed David in his M6, we drove 400 meters to the ///M Division HQ. Upon arrival, we were greeted by Philipp Grubelnig (M Divison Middle East Marketing Manager) and Alex (M Division European Market Manager). I quickly pulled my camera out and started snapping away pictures (6 series Grand Coupe in Frozen Bronze, etc), with standard entrance picture of the M Division HQ. Then we took Philipp and Alex over to David'’s M6. As I mentioned above, David’s M6 has something special installed recently by Akrapovic. I talk about it a little bit later. After showing them the M6, we went to visit ///M Studio. There we spent about 30 minutes taking a glance at what’s inside and exchanged some ideas about the cars. I was able to snap pictures inside the M Studio, however walking between the buildings my camera was taken away from me. Reason was there were about 4 new F80 M3 prototypes parked in there and due to security I wasn’t able to snap any pictures and they didn’t want me to snap them either. Oh well, at least I got to see what the future M3 sedan might look like. After the M Studio we talked for a little longer with Philipp and Alex. However, since we had a 500kilometer trip back home ahead of us on Friday afternoon, we had to end our tour. Plus, I couldn’t wait to start driving home, knowing that the mighty M6 is awaiting me right outside. We said goodbye to everybody, and left. I set all the settings in the M6 to my liking and off we went. I have to admit M6 is a piece of art, the power delivery is insane. M3 is great, but the M6 offers something totally different. The acceleration on the autobahn is beautiful, but you can tell right away it is a heavy car, especially in the turns. M3 is a lot more nimble and tossable.
Not too long ago, David and I approached Akrapovic about possible business cooperation. I wont' go into much details, but Akrapovic asked David if he would be willing to give up his M6 for a photo shoot done at Akrapovic factory in Slovenia in exchange for a free Akra Evo exhaust system. David didn't hesitate, and after some talks, Akrapovic sent a truck to pick up the M6 in Germany and have it transported to Slovenia for a photo shoot. And Akrapovic, being the world class company, did exactly what they promised. They came with a truck, picked up M6, did a photoshoot, installed the Akra Evo (first ever production series), and returned the M6 to the rightful owner. They even went out of their way and delivered the car back to Munich per David's request. Reason being, David dropped off his M3 on Monday at the BMW Body & Paint Shop in Garching, and drove the M6 back to K-Town. That tells a lot about a company and how they go about business. Like I said, Akrapovic is a world class leader, in manufacturing, quality and customer service.
Also, if some of you will make it to the Paris Auto Show coming up soon, you might see this very ///M6 on the display.