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2012 BMW M5 - Lofty Goals

IND builds a GTS version of the BMW M5 and claims it'll eventually be the fastest in existence

Alex Bernstein
May 8, 2013
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Epcp 1303 01 o+2012 BMW M5+3D design front lip Photo 1/11   |   epcp 1303 01 o+2012 BMW M5+3D design front lip

As it's name suggests, IND Distribution is the North American distributor for Eisenmann exhaust and supplier of many other brands. That's kind of its main purpose. But over the last few years, the company has developed into something far greater.

Epcp 1303 02 o+2012 BMW M5+IND front grilles Photo 2/11   |   epcp 1303 02 o+2012 BMW M5+IND front grilles

"In general, the idea behind IND from the beginning was to access rare parts and bring them to market, to give people something more unique," explained Ilia Smolov, IND project manager. "I feel many people in the BMW community like rare parts, race parts, GTS parts, Euro-only stuff, so that's what we do. And since we're enthusiasts as well, everybody at IND had dabbled in imported parts to some extent before we even started the company 15 years ago."

With a mission to bring obscure parts to US customers, there's always something unique from IND. Each car in their portfolio is not only stunning but boasts parts no other car has. Whether it's polished Akrapovic exhaust tips that were never an option, or BBS wheels that aren't on the market, this is what IND does and who they are.

The Build

"We ordered an M5 the moment we heard its specs and knew then what it was going to be," Ilia said. "We knew the F10 would be the best M5 yet." So with a solid platform to build on, IND wanted to push the performance envelope as far as possible and again create something truly unique.

Epcp 1303 07 o+2012 BMW M5+recaro profi SPA seats Photo 3/11   |   2012 BMW M5 - Lofty Goals

"We wanted stage 1 to be an M5 GTS, not only because it was achievable but because it was what we wanted to do," Ilia continued. So what you see here is IND's best guess at how BMW would create a special edition M5. It's also a piece of art, boasting the best parts, materials and finishes.

One of the more challenging aspects was the carbon fiber roof. It saved a healthy amount of weight, lowered the center of gravity and looks the part. So IND had the factory roof chopped out and replaced with a composite panel from Challenge Engineering, along with the same company's carbon/kevlar trunk.

To compliment the new roof, IND added a carbon front lip, rear diffuser and trunk spoiler from 3D Design. They also installed black grilles and dipped the 19" BBS FI wheels in Porsche GT3 RS paint, no less. There's no denying BBS will forever make beautiful wheels, and these tie the whole project together.

As if that wasn't enough to stand out, IND chose sparkling Balloon White paint from the Lamborghini color pallet, which was contrasted with painted graphics. But why Falken Tire colors for the stripes? Well, if you're familiar with Falken and know the caliber of cars it admits to its SEMA booth, you know it's a big deal. "The SEMA booth is awesome every year," Ilia proclaimed. "Having Falken sign on to the project motivated us to push further."

Once the deal was official, Ilia and his team got together with artist Jon Sibal to create the special graphics. "The goal was to take the car past where most of our clients would be willing to take it," Ilia explained, "but this is only phase one."

Epcp 1303 03 o+2012 BMW M5+taillight Photo 4/11   |   2012 BMW M5 - Lofty Goals

It's safe to say that most M5 drivers won't fit a rollcage or carbon/kevlar Recaro Profi seats. "That's part of our trick because we don't expect everybody to do anything to this extent. To some degree, people like to live vicariously through a project because they use their M5 for work and the family, while ours doesn't have those limitations. We do that stuff so our clients can enjoy watching it develop," Ilia told us.

From the beginning, IND planned to build the world's fastest F10 M5. This is an extraordinary goal, but seems achievable since the company situated next door to a name that's no stranger to "world's fastest" records: AMS. Formerly known for extensive Mitsubishi tuning, it now pumps out some of the fastest Nissan GTRs in the world, and IND has presented them with a guinea pig to explore a new chassis.

The balance with any build is how far you're willing to go between tame and crazy. "We wanted to alter the balance, sacrifice some of the streetability to see how we can maximize the performance," Ilia said. "We plan to push the engine and drivetrain over the winter to get some very good power out of the car."

The Drive

The new M5 is a great saloon in stock form, although it behaves as you'd imagine and its downfall, if it has one, is that its more user-friendly commuter than aggressive racer. But if you ever wondered what it'd be like with a snarling exhaust system and scalpel-sharp turn-in, you'd be piloting the IND rendition.

The car exudes racing emotion; it looks as if it was pulled from a touring car race, minus the dented body panels.

Epcp 1303 09 o+2012 BMW M5+3D design front lip Photo 8/11   |   epcp 1303 09 o+2012 BMW M5+3D design front lip

Once you open the door and finagle between the steering wheel and massive bolsters on the narrowest, most confining Recaro seats on the market, you realize you're in for an interesting drive.

Keep in mind; the car only has an Eisenmann exhaust, so the potency of the powerplant has barely been unleashed. However, the weight saving of that exhaust, BBS FI wheels, deleted rear seat and 120 lb saved by ditching the factory seats in favor of the Recaros means the IND M5 feels raw. Diving it lets you better understand the full potential of the chassis.

First gear happens too fast. Second, even from a roll, will shimmy the tail as the Falken FK453 tires beg for mercy. By third you wish you weren't approaching a stop sign.

And what does the best - and one of the most expensive - M5 exhausts sound like? Amazing. The boosted V8 rumbles deeply at idle, with a blip of the throttle revealing a hint of turbo spooling. It's a beast in a bowtie; undoubtedly ferocious, but sophisticated enough to valet at the Ritz.

Back to those seats, though. You'll never fit behind the wheel. The seats are so small. And while the half-cage looks awesome, it touches the alcantara headliner and creates a noise like raindrops hitting the top of a porta-potty.

Epcp 1303 04 o+2012 BMW M5+eisenmann exhaust Photo 9/11   |   2012 BMW M5 - Lofty Goals

Once you squeeze in, and take some high-speed turns, you realize you don't need an M3 to power oversteer, and you don't need a Z4 to take an exit ramp at triple digits, because the F10 M5, fitted with three-way adjustable KW Clubsport coilovers and massive factory brakes, is one of the most deceptively capable cars we've ever driven.

Who knew a car this big could inspire such confidence? If the guys at IND mean business, it'll be spine-tinglingly, bat-shit crazy when it's finished. We'll have more later in the year but here's to 1000hp and the top speed runs we're planning!

2012 BMW M5

IND Distribution
Chicago, IL

Epcp 1303 08 o+2012 BMW M5+3D design rear diffuser Photo 10/11   |   2012 BMW M5 - Lofty Goals

Engine 4.4-liter V8 twin-turbo with full Eisenmann exhaust system, 4x102mm tips, painted engine cover

Drivetrain stock seven-speed M DCT transmission

Brakes stock calipers and rotors with CarboTech XP12 pads f, XP10 r, Castrol SRF fluid, calipers painted Falken teal green

Suspension KW ClubSport coilovers

Wheels & Tires 19x9.5" f, 19x10.5" r BBS FI wheels painted Porsche 911 GT3 RS Grauschwarz with 275/35 R19 f, 305/30 R19 r Falken Azenis FK453 tires

Exterior 3D Design carbon fiber front lip, rear diffuser and trunk spoiler, Challenge Engineering carbon roof and carbon/kevlar trunk, shaved reflectors, car painted Lamborghini Balloon White with Falken teal and blue stripes, gloss black IND front grilles and side gills

Interior Recaro Profi SPA seats, Fall Line Motorsports seat brackets and "GTS-style" painted roll-bar, six-point Sabelt harnesses and fire extinguisher, alcantara rear-seat delete panel, 3D Design pedals, Stack water, boost and oil pressure gauges in IND pod

Thanks IND Distribution (ind-distribution.com), Sven at Eisenmann, James at Falken Tire, Craig at BBS, George at KW, Eric and Martin at AMS Performance, Tim and Mark at Fall Line, Johan at Driven Media

Epcp 1303 06 o+2012 BMW M5+BBS FI wheels Photo 11/11   |   epcp 1303 06 o+2012 BMW M5+BBS FI wheels
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By Alex Bernstein
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