We’ve all heard the stories, one-off special build cars made for Sheiks, Sultans and Rock Stars. Unobtainable personalisation for those who yield unobtainable wealth.
But did you know that you could have your very own, one-of-one build, without extending too far from the brochure list price?
BMW Individual is a program that allows an expanded array of paint and trim options to be applied to a number of models within the BMW range.
Individual builds on that very human desire to be a little bit different, so as to really stand out from the crowd… but without taking a huge risk in doing so.
It has been a little-known product in the BMW portfolio since 1992, and up until recently was only available on specific models built in one of the brand’s factories in Germany.
To help broaden the appeal and availability of the Individual options, the product has been split into a ‘chef’s selection’ of paint and trim colours, beyond which is shown in a model’s usual brochure, and a more ‘off the menu’ approach to vehicle specification.
The former, drawing simply from the Individual Collection palette, is available on X5 and X6 models (built in the USA), as well as 3- to 7-Series cars (from all factories, including South Africa), and M3 to M6 models.
To design a car using the Individual Collection, buyers can select from a broader selection of paints (specific to each car), as well as internal trim elements and wheels.
Where buyers select wood inlays for the dashboard and other components, all pieces are sourced from the same limb, from the same tree.
Pieces are hand-cut and finished to give that extra layer of personalisation.
Upholstery can be selected, again in colours outside of the standard option set, but within the scope of the vehicle.
To go this way, with an Individual Collection X5 40d for example, adds approximately $2,00 in paint, $4100 in trim and $2800 in wheels ($8,00), to the existing $118,855 vehicle price tag. That’s a bit over 7 per cent more, for a car that you’ll likely never park next to a twin of at the shops.
Expect about a four-week additional lead time on build (currently about eight weeks) to land your Individual car.
There are other options, too, which depend on the car being purchased. In our X5 example, prices can be as low as $700 for different wood inlays, and can even be specified at no cost when the vehicle includes the material as standard equipment, such as the 20-inch Individual wheels on an X5 M50d (which comes standard with 20-inch wheels).
The second level, Individual Manufaktur, does require the car to be built in Germany. This includes 3-Series Touring, 4- 7-Series cars and M3 to M6 range. No X-range cars, including the X5 and X6M, are available.
Colours here are very much up to the buyer, with the full BMW current and historic catalogue available, as well as being able to match any other existing colour… for a price.
Costs range from $2300 for something like the classic Estoril Blue (on an M3 for example), to over $12,000 for Pure Metal Silver on an F10 5 Series.
For the most part though, aim to spend between $6000 and $10,000 on your paint selection.
Inside, the seat designs stay as is, but buyers can choose from available leather types, contrasting piping and stitching, with prices starting from around $2,000.
Of course, you can have crests, names or other logos embroidered into the seat headrests and displayed on sills and kickplates.
Just how far can you go? BMW say that their personalisation team will try to guide the buyers to adopt a palette that will remain fundamentally tasteful, and won't allow any custom two-tone or detail painting to be included, ex-factory. You can always have this done after the fact, of course.
And, yes, someone has had a pink (Rose Quartz) 430i convertible built.
There are rules around mechanical components too, so you can’t mix and match wheels from another model, nor are there any core technical changes able to be made to the cars.
But what then of resale?
Would, say, a Taiga Green M4, with a lovely deep tan interior and contrasting, cream stitching be worth nothing should we tire of it?
Well technically, the vehicle’s VIN number captures all the Individual options, and notes it as a one-of-one build… so for the right future buyer, it might well be priceless!
Take-up in Australia is increasing, with over 500 ordered cars last year. It is just 2 percent of all BMW local sales, but when you consider just how many near identical white X3s you see, it’s not too bad a figure.
For a way to have something that no one else does, a real one-off-build, you don’t need to spend a fortune or wait a lifetime.
You can play around with some configurations using the Individual App on the iPad, which is very similar to the sales tool used in a BMW showroom.
It doesn't cover everything, but gives you an idea of where to start should the dream of creating a one-of-one BMW be something you wish to realise.
Have a play, and let us know what you’ve built in the comments below.