BMW’s $10,000 Paint Job

Nothing highlights craftsmanship quite like Pure Metal Silver.
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Nothing highlights craftsmanship quite like Pure Metal Silver.
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This week, BMW released a video justifying the $10,000 price of its latest customization option: Pure Metal Silver, a paint so bright it makes quicksilver self-conscious.

Luxury carmakers have a history of offering special trim to customers with deep pockets and a flair for personalization. On the low end, Cadillac used to offer a $995 Black Diamond tri-coat, a rich black filled with aluminum flakes, on the CTS-V. For $5,500 and $15,000 respectively, Porsche and Mercedes offer a paint-to-match service: Bring in photo of your first car or a lock of Grandma Josephine’s hair and the companies’ artists will create that exact shade.

BMW has perhaps the longest history with special color and design - on its racecars, not sedans. Since the seventies, BMW has commissioned artists (including Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol) to paint its Le Mans racers in wild schemes. The cars are famous, and frequently exhibited at shows like Art Basel. More recently, BMW offered the M3 in “Frozen Black”—a $15,000 package including BBS wheels and matte-finish paint so delicate that owners who washed it with an unapproved cloth voided their warranties.

With Pure Metal Silver, BMW is recalling that history of design, not just adding another check-box below those for heated seats or roof-racks. While the price (8000 Euros) is steep, the process by which the cars are painted is, well, elaborate. Before the paint can be applied, the chassis is primed and polished, then checked by hand. Then, Glacier Metallic paint (water-based, with millions of aluminum flakes suspended in its base) is applied, cured, and checked. Two more coats are applied, and a team of specialists checks the car a final time before it leaves the factory.

While not a frugal choice, checking the Pure Metal Silver option box leaves you with a BMW draped in the shiniest, slipperiest skin ever offered. If you’re in the market for an M5, why not give you car that extra bit of dynamism and shine? Just, for God’s sake, don’t street park.