January 3, the Quadrantids meteor shower will hit its peak, with shooting stars visible in the night sky. Why are you reading this at Car and Driver?Because, to celebrate the shower, BMW has revealed a one-off 8-series coupe that has actual meteorite fragments on the inside.
The Quadrantids shower occurs when the Earth passes by the 2003 EH asteroid from which the meteors likely originated, and it has one of the shortest and most intense peaks of the yearly visible meteor showers. Rarely, some of those meteors can make their way through the planet’s atmosphere and fall to the ground as meteorites. In this case, they made their way all the way into this M850i coupe.
Dubbed the Night Sky, the special BMW has interior trim made from actual meteorite fragments. The entirety of the center-console trim, the engine-start button, the gear selector, the iDrive control knob, and the doorsills all feature inlays made from meteorite rocks. The geometric pattern of the trim, named Widmanstätten after the scientist who first observed it, is a naturally occurring pattern that is only found in the structure of extraterrestrial materials. The BMW Individual Manufaktur division worked with the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics throughout the design process to create the components and ensure the correct use of the materials.
The cosmic inspiration doesn’t stop with the inclusion of the space rocks. The Widmanstätten pattern is used on the inserts of the three-tone leather seats and on the leather headliner. The exterior mirror caps, the trim in the lower front air intakes, and the fender vents were all created through 3D printing and are finished with the pattern. The paint color is the combination of two existing BMW colors—nonmetallic Black and metallic San Marino Blue, with the blue finish applied as a gradient effect on the lower body—and three layers of clearcoat with varying sizes of pigmented flake. LED lights are embedded in the armrests to give the look of constellations.
BMW hasn’t only applied cosmetic cosmic enhancements to this 8-series. The one-off M850i has 3D-printed aluminum brake calipers with a “bionic design.” They were developed by BMW Motorsport, and the company claims they are 30 percent lighter than the standard M850i’s brakes. BMW says that every component of the brakes has been reduced to the minimum possible amount of materials needed, and the construction of the brakes, which mimics bone, could not be created through conventional means. The design of the brakes also incorporates the Widmanstätten pattern.
BMW doesn’t say whether the M850i Night Sky was commissioned by a customer or originated internally at BMW; nor does the automaker mention how much the meteorite trim and other special modifications would add to the M850i’s $112,895 base price. We can only assume that the cost for adding meteorite fragments to one’s BMW would be out of this world.