Last year our friends and KW dealer IND Distribution built the famous BMW M4 GTS Plus. We already featured the KW Clubsport equipped IND M4 twice at our KW automotive blog because of the sheer awesomeness of this build.
2017 IND Distribution falls in love with the BMW M2 and Ilia Smolov is punch drunken love with it’s “gelbgrun” BMW M2. Many years ago, IND learned a simple truth – IND and KW customers are those who seek the exceptional in every aspect of their lives, every day. From their own positions as business owners, parents, community leaders, and much more, our clients demand the exceptional from themselves every day. It is this truth that made us understand that our mission is to deliver the exceptional as well.
IND knew that this M2 had to rival the M4 GTS and their M4 GTS Plus, and so the bar was clearly set high. They began by designing the items that BMW could not create during their own development process.
The M2’s carbon fiber roof was perhaps the earliest step toward pushing the envelope for the M2 chassis as a whole. Creating the roof involved scanning the M4 carbon roof, obtaining the precise surface profile that BMW intended, and then re-tooling it to the M2’s less substantial dimensions.
The RKP carbon fiber roof panel was created, forever transforming not only our M2, but also many of IND client’s own cars. The carbon fiber roof was the first of many components designed to take the M2 from BMW’s no frills sports car into the realm of something truly special.
RKP chose to attack the front of the car from there, shifting their attention to the front lip. The M4 GTS front lip was carefully reverse engineered, re-scaled to fit the much narrower M2, and a completely fresh mounting solution was developed that would enable M2 owners to create a GTS feel and functionality with a much simpler installation process. Fall Line Motorsports contributed to the process at this stage by creating a front splitter that had the shape and adjustability of the GTS piece, but enjoyed the extreme durability of polyurethane.
The aggressive GTS style front lip is complimented by 3D Design side skirts and rear diffuser. Both items are constructed from pre-preg carbon fiber, and have a fit that must be seen in person to be appreciated. 3D Design has been a loyal partner for IND since 2011, and it is 3D’s commitment to perfection in manufacturing and design that has enabled us to exceed our client’s expectations whenever one of their aero items is installed. To complete the exterior of the car, IND directed their attention directly to the BMW Motorsport catalog, and got to work.
M235i Racing 24 hour foglights were a style centerpiece for this project, but were a challenge from the beginning. The original M235i race car has provisions in the bumper to install the fog lights, but for the M2 this was uncharted territory. IND created custom carbon fiber fog light mounts in-house, and carefully positioned the fog lamps in the front bumper.
Extreme care was taken to sculpt the fog light mounts in a way that efficiently guides air to the car’s cooling systems- readers will be surprised to learn that the Motorsport fog lamps only conceal the end tanks of the M2’s front mounted cooler, and do not change airflow to the heat exchanger itself. A European foglight switch was installed in the car’s interior, and custom wired to activate the fog lamps with full factory functionality.
IND was able to source a BMW Motorsport M235i Racing trunk, enabling us to also integrate the BMW Motorsport M235i Racing wing package. While the M235i Racing wing is a beautifully functional item as delivered, the team Ilia felt that the appearance of the wing should be enhanced to truly fit the premium street and track feeling that the IND M2 deserved.
A brushed finish was painstakingly applied to the RKP wing uprights, which were then covered in a tinted clear coat for a subtle appearance. Finally, Cartridge Limited carbon fiber endplates were installed to make our BMW Motorsport wing even more special.
At this stage IND knew that their M2 would exude athleticism, and would be a car that would need to function equally well on the street and on a road course. IND’s design philosophy is in many ways very compatible with Porsche’s “RS” line of cars, and so we looked to Porsche once again to inspire the M2’s exterior color. After some deliberation, IND selected Porsche’s classic GelbGrün color.
This color is special to them because it has been a Porsche staple since the 70s, and is in some rare instances seen on GT3 RS cars today.
The nearly fluorescent green is a celebration of not simply Porsche history, but of Motorsport heritage in general, and to us recalls a time when sports cars were pure with few electronic assists and an engaging driving experience. It was this GelbGrün color that would guide us as we continued to develop our M2.
Of course, no IND Portfolio car is complete without it’s details. An IND black chrome exterior package was installed, complete with black chrome logo front grilles, black chrome side grilles, and a black chrome M2 emblem. Acexxon’s fantastic rear reflector delete was a key addition to the rear bumper, and was painted BMW gloss black to complete the rear of the car.
The M2 is delivered from BMW with a relatively austere interior, and it is in the interior that they felt they could truly allow our imaginations to soar. So they knew they had to integrate a host of original BMW Performance and BMW Motorsport components in order to pursue an “OEM track model” feel comparable to the M4 GTS.
Two items would become centerpieces for the theme of our M2 interior: the BMW GTS European seats, and the BMW Motorsport roll bar found in the MotoGP pace car. The European GTS seats boast incredibly lightweight and rigid carbon fiber shells, and are a perfect fit for a car that will see street and circuit duty. The MotoGP roll bar, painted GelbGrün is a key element of the M2, giving this car a measure of safety and also integrating the interior feel with BMW’s own approach to Motorsport-enhanced cars. An RKP rear closeout integrates perfectly with the MotoGP roll bar, adding refinement back to an interior that is now missing it’s rear seat.
The M4 GTS steering wheel was a natural addition to our M2, integrating perfectly with BMW’s GTS seats. AutoTechnik shift paddles offer easier access to up and downshifts, and were refinished in GelbGrün to add subtle color to an otherwise relatively dark interior.
The GTS fire extinguisher was also added to complete the GTS interior feel. IND removed all original blue stitch from the M2’s door panels, center console, parking brake boot, and floor mats to more easily integrate our own GelbGrün color.
Finally, IND added a BMW Performance interior trim kit- an original BMW item that many will overlook, but is critical to creating an overall more cohesive interior. Custom programming from Alpine helped IND to eliminate the coding issues created by changing to the European GTS seats.
In spite of the already fantastic performance of the M2 as delivered from BMW M, IND knew that their concept would have to offer something more. IND has never been concerned with ¼ mile drag strip times or lofty horsepower figures. Instead, their approach focuses on creating a balanced, dynamic, and beautifully driveable chassis that can be used in the real world. We knew that we had to create an M2 that would demonstrate an extreme level of competence around a race course.
To this end, we looked to ESS Tuning to give the M2 an increase in horsepower and response without overwhelming the chassis. ESS software focuses on tractability, a smooth and linear powerband, and boost figures that do not overwhelm the turbocharger, giving our M2 a newfound power and response while maintaining the car’s friendly and easy to drive nature.
Eisenmann’s engineers provided an exhaust system that improves sound and exhaust flow while also adding beautiful carbon fiber tips that perfectly complement our 3D Design rear diffuser. The Eventuri air intake complements the Eisenmann exhaust perfectly, giving this M2 an intake roar that is pure sonic bliss when the car approaches it’s redline.
Suspension, handling, and chassis dynamics are key to any IND Portfolio car, and this is the area where our M2 truly shines. The base for our M2’s suspension performance is the KW Clubsport coilover system. The triple adjustable Clubsport dampers are perfectly tuned for mixed street and track use, reducing unwanted geometry change dramatically while maintaining a shocking amount of compliance for both excellent traction and great ride comfort.
The complete Fall Line Motorsports catalog compliments the KW coilovers and completely transforms the behavior of our M2. Fall Line’s spherical front control arm bearings dramatically reduce toe change under braking and sharpen the turn-in of the M2 when the driver enters a corner. The rear upper bearings and rear toe link reduce unwanted geometry change at the rear of the car and provide a much-needed means of adjusting toe with ease.
Front and rear sway bar links enable us to properly corner balance the car and zero any pre-load found in the sway bars, and the camber shim kit allows for precise adjustment of camber with no movement of the camber setting under cornering load. RKP Corner Braces replace the original BMW items with more rigid pieces, adding more stiffness to one of the most critical areas of the car. Together, these items create a car that is easy to align, razor sharp in its steering response, and yet simple and safe to drive.
Of course, no amount of chassis and suspension tuning will help an inadequate set of wheels and tires, and we knew that our M2 would require a very rigid wheel set, coupled with tires that were able to keep up with this car’s increased performance envelope. The Carbon Revolution wheels are wrapped with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires in 265/30/19 square sizing give the IND M2 incredible front-end feel, and provide very high mechanical grip at all four corners. A Macht Schnell extended stud kit and Project Kics lug nuts fasten the wheels securely to the car and allow for easy removal and installation.
Finally, the car’s performance envelope is rounded out with a Brembo GT brake kit. IND chooses Brembo over all other brake brands time after time because of Brembo’s unwavering commitment to build quality and after sales support. Brembo is the only brake manufacturer in the world to own several metal foundries, producing their brakes to the Brembo standard all the way up from the base material itself.
Brembo’s GT kit provides a larger swept pad area than the original BMW caliper and a much higher efficiency disc, giving the M2 a stronger ability to vent braking heat. A myriad of performance pad choices enable an M2 driver to set the brake system to any possible driving condition, from outright street use to endurance use at a track.
So finally, what good are all of these parts? Is the IND M2 a sum of its components? Are IND simply installing parts for the sake of having a longer list of modifications? In our view, no, that is not the case. As tuners, it is our role to provide excellence where BMW was not able. Original manufacturers like BMW can only go so far before their budget runs out- they have to make a profit, after all! For that reason, BMW created the M2 as an excellent performance value, but was not able to integrate every signature M feature.
This is where IND steps in. Their and our job are to continue to raise the bar, every day. Each day that we come to our office we find new ways to push our own definition of excellence, and to drive progress.
Photos IND Distribution