2011 550xi M-Sport - Jet Black
Hey guys - this is my first post in this forum and I thought I would finally show my "project car" and all the steps involved in its' transformation and the many people who helped me get my ride to where I want it.
I had been looking for the last year for this car and finally found one on the other side of the US. I paid over $2k to have it transported in a covered trailer and when it arrived, I was in for a huge surprise - unfortunately, the stealership I was dealing with misrepresented their "pristine and flawless" car. This car had a badly damaged rim, curbed front bumper and I'm pretty certain someone washed the car with a Scotchbrite pad. I was told to "get over it" as I had bought a "used car" (9500 miles) - this after I had spoken to them several times clarifying the supposedly pristine nature of the car. Long story short, I'm going after them in court and will soon have my day . . . but here's where it is now after much work :-)
1st Phase - get the paint dialed in.
I've had 20+ years polishing my own vehicles and those of friends and I have never dealt with such a complicated pain-in-the-ass paint as that on a jet black BMW with the ceramic clear coat. I had tried my arsenal of Griots Garage products and nothing would come close to touching this finish - I was beginning to believe I would have to have it wet sanded to recover from all the deep scratches. In my search for a solution and someone skilled enough to wet sand this ride, I was told about a detailing shop called, "Polished Image" in Tacoma, Washington (253-273-3217). When I first stopped in and explained my problem, Jason Killmer and Brian Churchill stopped what they were doing and showed me very quickly that they could accomplish in a short time what had seemed impossible to me. Based on how bad the condition of the finish was, they estimated a minimum of 18-hours of polish time with a 2-step process - I think they were being kind and trying to keep my costs down. I explained my desire to fix it myself and they were so cool as to take time out of their schedule to teach me their techniques so that I could do it on my own time. Took me 33 hours to do a 3 stage polishing process and then finish with a sealant. Without going into too much detail, here's the steps taken:
Flex 3401, Porter Cable rotary, Griots Gararge RO (6" and 3") and a small 3" rotary
Polish & Pads:
Step one was with Meguiars M105 using Surbuf pads and Lake Country course yellow. Step two was with Menzerna 1500SI and LC orange pads. Step three was Menzerna 4000 and LC white pads. Sealant was Chemical Guys Black Light with a soft yellow pad. I spent the better part of a week working panel by panel making sure each panel was flawless (except for a couple places where the scratches were too deep).
I quickly found out that with this clear coat, the simple act of careful washing (double bucket) and drying produced fine scratches even while using good microfibers. I then went to using a soap cannon, better towels, etc and began feeling OCD that the finish was too fragile and prone to quick accumulation of flaws. More on this later . . .
After this process, I decided to take Jason's 8 hour training on wet sanding and polishing perfection and I highly recommend it! It was during this training that I decided to de-badge the car of it's x-drive and 550i emblems to give it an even cleaner look.
2nd Phase - get the stance right
To lower the F10, I chose Racing Dynamics springs based on all the reviews I had read and I have to say I'm very impressed. There are times I wish they were more aggressive on the side of firmness, but now at least the adjustable suspension actually does something - this is how the car should have come from the factory - it was too soft and too high for my taste. I bought the springs from ModBargins.com and dealt with Gilbert (714-582-3330 ext. 8004) - he's my man for all the goods. Ultimately, I bought the springs, carbon fiber grill, carbon fiber fender light fixtures and the Avant Garde 20" M355 staggered wheels and couldn't be happier.
Spring installation was done by Pete Bristow of Bristow's Exclusive Auto Repair (253-471-1663) - this guy is on fire and is truly passionate about what he does. It took the better part of the day, but when it was done, it was perfect . . . can't say enough good things about this shop and the level of service.
3rd Phase - Bumper
Since the bumper had been curbed and was full of rock chips, I took it to Kirmac in Tacoma, WA (253-473-2888). Dick McLean took excellent care of me and showed me the shop and their new (from Italy), 1st in the USA, robotic infra-red baking system for flawless paint curing - very impressive shop to say the least. They coordinated with my clear bra installer and dropped the car off once they were done with their process.
4th Phase - Clear Bra
I then turned to the guru of clear bra installations in Tacoma - a guy by the name of Micaiah Mausten (253-474-8021) at Custom Clear Bra. This guy is a wizard - an artist with a razor blade and skills I've never seen before. He wrapped the entire hood, front bumper and front fenders with Expel Ultimate film that has self-healing characteristics . . . if it gets scratches, give it enough time in the sun or pour warm/hot water on it and they disappear - pretty damn cool. The nice thing about this film is that it's thin and you really can't tell it's covered when you compare raw to covered unless you spend a lot of time up close. Due to the fragile nature of the clear coat and it's desire to be scratched easily, I decided to challenge Micaiah and have him wrap the entire vehicle so that it can be a daily driver without concern of frequent scratches and rock chips. Yes, I know this is blasphemy, but don't forget that I live in the most rock chip prone state with tons of rain - I wash this car 2x/week and I love the ability to wash it quickly without having to foam cannon it, double bucket it, etc. It makes having a black car easy as I can now wipe it down with CG spray without fear of scratching and need of polishing on a monthly basis.
5th Phase - Rims
Gilbert at **********s came through again and hooked me up with one of the first sets of Avant Garde M355 20" staggered rims. Soon to be added is the Dinan Stage 2 upgrade for 501HP/580Tq - I think I'll finally be happy at that point!
Here's the finished product :-) Sorry for such a long post, but this has been a long process and I thought it would be good to share the experience to hopefully make someone else's life a bit easier if they run into the same issues I've had.