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Everything you ever wanted to know about BMW Individual

The ultimate guide to the BMW Individual program. Complete with history, pricing, resale value and beautiful examples.

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Over the years, I’ve gotten many responses regarding BMW Individual – what it is, how it works, and why some colors are available while others aren’t. This guide will go over everything, including why BMW says yes to one person, but no to another (don’t be salty, bro).

Let’s taste the rainbow.

What is BMW Individual?

BMW M3
Two G80 M3s in Individual Tanzanite Blue II and Voodoo Blue

This is a program that started in 1991, but like most everything else relating to BMW, it was late getting to the US and wouldn’t arrive until 2006, 15 years later. Why the delay? It seems US customers just couldn’t make up their minds. If you ordered a BMW and then later on decided to cancel your order, BMW would not penalize you. Not wanting to be stuck with a Barbie Pink 7 Series, they finally relented and decided they would penalize you for canceling, but in exchange, you can now order any color you want.

And BMW Individual is just that – the ability to spec a color not offered in the car’s original color palette. Also offered are different colored leathers and trims.

How does BMW Individual paint work?

BMW Paint
You’re limited only by your imagination. And production schedules.

Although it’s possible to find a special order color on a dealer lot, it’s highly unlikely (and probably not the color you want anyway). So you’ll have to order the car. There are three tiers:

  • Order a color that’s offered as a “Personalized” selection. My X3 M40i is Tanzanite Blue II Metallic, an option that cost more than a “regular” color, but one that’s still readily available. BMW automatically approves these colors.
  • Select a color from BMW Individual. You won’t find it on BMW’s USA website, but can head to their Euro builder to see what’s available for your specific car. There’s a chance BMW won’t approve the color, but it’s very slim. They want your money, trust me.
  • Pick a color that’s never been done before. They may approve it, or they may not. It’s best to have a few backup options.
bmw-tanzanite-blue
Individual paint shimmers just like any other metallic color.

Don’t be too discouraged if BMW says no, because at this point, they have so many colors it’s likely a very similar shade is available.

Why does BMW say no?

bmw-m3-interlagos-blue
Sure, now it’s available…

There are many reasons. For instance, you could not order an F80 M3 in Interlagos Blue Metallic, despite a few people I know trying.

  • The chemical composition of paint can change, making it impossible to get the tint correct (this is what the II, or two, denotes in a color’s name – like saying version 2).
  • The factory the car is built in does not have the ability to paint that color.
  • There isn’t enough time in the production schedule (model year changes, models discontinuing, etc).
  • It’s not financial viable to paint one car a color. It must be done in batches, and if BMW does not want to do 29 other cars like yours, they say no.
  • It could be saved for a special model coming out. BMW wouldn’t let me paint my G80 M3 Interlagos Blue because the 30 Jahre model would be made in that color a year later.

Sometimes the factory will have to hold a board meeting to decide on a color z– it’s that big a deal. They stop the entire manufacturing line to switch out the paint in the robots, then switch it back to a standard color.

How do BMW Individual interiors work?

Smoke White Leather
Individual Smoke White Leather is a $5,000 option.

This becomes a much broader topic. BMW will let you do just about anything you want – anything. Start by selecting a shade of leather that they offer, or ask them to dye a swatch just for you.

Tartufo on an X3 M
Tartufo on an X3 M

Then there’s trim. Cut down a tree in your backyard because it was Grampy’s old oak and you still want him to ride around with you. Send the pieces to BMW, and they will use it as the trim in your interior. The cost is unique to each car and scenario, but know that it’s best to bring a blank check.

How much does it cost to paint your car an Individual color?

Individual Frozen Tanzanite Blue II
Individual Frozen Tanzanite Blue II. This car was ordered and cancelled, so now the dealer is stuck with it.

Pricing changes all the time and can be model-specific, but the cost is generally as follows (in 2024):

  • $1,950 for a Personalized color
  • $5,000 for a pre-approved Individual colors (usually available on the site).
  • $10,000 for a customized color that’s never been done before.

Does ordering an Individual BMW take longer?

BMW Delivery Day
Might take longer for delivery day to arrive.

As a general rule, yes, but there are circumstances that allow a car to be built faster.

If it’s a Personalized color or one that’s already approved, the process can be condensed. But if it’s a new color, it must be approved (or denied), and that can take additional time before the car is even put on order.

BMWs take anywhere from three to six months to build, so expect longer times for a one-off. Everyone’s situation is unique, so work with your dealer closely.

BMW Individual compared to Porsche PTS

porsche Paint to sample
Lizard Green behind an E92 M3 in Java Green Metallic.

At the end of the day, BMW is in business to sell cars, not make your dreams come true. Therefore, they’d much rather have you take home that Alpine White M340i and not order what you really want. The dealers push this narrative, because they really don’t want the car sitting on the lot.

A dealer gets only so many slots to order per month for each model – perhaps it’s ten M3 sedans. He can spec them himself, or give a slot to you and let you order what you’d like. White, black and silver cars still sell the best, regardless of model, so he wants to order those colors. Now here you come with your Techno Violet request. If you see the order through, great, but if you cancel, the dealer is stuck with a purple M3 that people may not want.

Porsche Turbo GT
Porsche also offers more options, like PTS door handles.

Porsche works a little differently. Sitting higher in the automotive food chain, their products cost more, and their customers expect more. That includes painting their cars to sample. You hand them a swatch, a photo, whatever, and they make it happen.

Porsche isn’t shy about this – displaying the option right on their build page. Cost? Upwards of $30,000. But they don’t usually say no.

Will BMW paint my car a color from another manufacturer?

Ferrari Red BMW M5
Ferrari Red BMW M5

They do in some cases. Porsche’s Chalk, Audi’s Nogaro Blue, or Ferrari’s Rosso Corsa are examples of colors from other makers.

But use caution, because sometimes BMW will use the same name for their own colors. Other makes such as Porsche will also use BMW’s color palette.

They can deny you here too – especially if they make a color that’s very similar. Think Lexus Ultrasonic Mica vs BMW San Marino or Marina Bay Blue.

Are BMW Individual cars worth more?

BMW X3 M40i
Individual cars don’t always retain a premium.

In limited circumstances, yes. But the real answer is more complex than that. For instance, at the BMW Performance Center, they no longer order individual colors because of resale – the dealers didn’t want them.  I’ll use some examples, and all the cars I’m going to show are stock.

Here’s a really nice example of an F80 M3 in Individual Imola Red.

And here’s another nice one in standard Yas Marina Blue.

Both 2018s. Both Competition models, but the Yas is worth $10k more. Is it because of the stick? Maybe, but here’s a Sakhir Orange one with a DCT and more miles than the Imola, and it sold for a higher price too.

Neptune Blue
E9X cars with Individual colors are more rare, like this Neptune Blue example.

The F80 M3 was truly the first car that BMW opened the order books for, so there are a lot of examples out there. If we go back to the E92, the story changes a bit. Here’s a 2010 Dakar Yellow one that sold for $63,000.

Here’s a Black Sapphire Metallic of the same vintage that sold for $43,200, despite having a little less mileage. Timing is everything – special colors are not everyone’s cup of tea, so you must find the right buyer. There are just as many examples of older BMWs that weren’t worth more because of an Individual color, but because it wasn’t an option that was encouraged until recently, they are much harder to find.

Is every BMW available in Individual colors?

BMW M2
Sorry, M2.

Sorry 2 Series Coupe fans, but it seems you’re not eligible yet. The Coupe is exclusively produced in BMW’s newest factory in Mexico, and they do not yet have the capability. The Gran Coupe is made elsewhere, and can be painted in unique shades.

This is on par with other BMW factories, like the plant in South Carolina. You couldn’t order an Individual color if the car was built in that plant (X3 – X6). Once the X7 arrived and BMW expanded the factory, the Individual program was brought to Spartanburg.

BMW M240i
How does the M Performance model have a broader color palette?

I find it ironic, because the 2 Coupe is probably the best candidate in the entire lineup for Individual colors. It has the youngest target demographic, and thus the most willing audience to try new flavors.

Why does the M2 only have four colors? To keep the cost of production down, and also to remind you that you might be in a real M, but you’re in the cheapest one.

Pathetic.

Is it Individual if they make the color for another BMW, but not mine?

Thundernight Metallic
If you want Thundernight Metallic on an X3, it’s Individual.

Yes, it’s a unique order. If for instance, you want your X3 M in Thundernight Metallic from the M240i, BMW will still charge you the $5,000 price. There’s also a chance thye could deny you.

If the color isn’t available on the Build Your Own section of BMW’s site for that particular model, it’s an Individual order.

What’s BMW’s most exclusive color?

Pure Metal Silver M5
Behold, the Pure Metal Silver M5.

That would be “Pure Metal Silver” – available on the F10 M5, M6 and 7 Series.

To make this paint, BMW goes all out:

“It’s a combination of a special effect pigment with a water base paint system. Hundreds of thousands of ultra thin aluminum flakes guarantee a uniform and gleaming surface. The vehicle is completely removed from the regular production processes, and the surface is checked until perfect. After paint preparation (primer), the chassis is carefully examined and any uneven elements are smoothed by hand. Pure Metal Silver requires a Glacier Silver Metal base coat. One more surface check is completed prior to the application of the final metal flake coating.

After cleaning the vehicle with compressed air, Pure Metal Silver is applied. The finishing specialist polishes and examines the vehicle one last time by hand.”

Pure Metal Silver M5

And no, if you’re wondering – it doesn’t retain its value like you might think. Here’s one for $42,000. You can find ones with less mileage for more – here’s one that sold for $80k. But that was two years ago, and F10s are dipping in value with a new M5 due soon.

It is stunning in person, but at the end of the day – it’s a silver car.

Should you order a BMW Individual car?

BMW Individual

Yes if it’s what you really want, and despite the fact that you will likely not see a return on your initial investment. You’re buying the car for you, not for the person after you.

I would have done so on my M3, had it not added even more time to the six-month wait for the car. With COVID over, you should be able to receive your car sooner.

It’ll be worth it when you look back at your BMW every time.

BMW Individual Gallery

Verde Ermes Green
Verde Ermes Green
Aventurine Red Metallic
Aventurine Red Metallic
British Racing Green
British Racing Green
Daytona Violet
Daytona Violet
Speed Yellow
Speed Yellow
Mint Green
Mint Green
Chalk
Chalk
Santorini Blue
Santorini Blue
Daytona Blue
Daytona Blue
Fire Orange
Fire Orange
Voodoo Blue
Voodoo Blue
Frozen Black Metallic
Frozen Black Metallic
Macau blue
Macau blue
Verde Mantis
Verde Mantis
Dravit Grey
Dravit Grey
Velvet Blue
Velvet Blue
Java Green Metallic
Java Green Metallic
twilight purple
Twilight Purple
British Racing Green
British Racing Green
Le Mans Blue
Le Mans Blue
Messing Metallic
Messing Metallic

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