Going for the Gold: BMW Starlight Editions Get 24-Carat Paint Job
There have been more than a few special editions of the BMW the i3 and the i8, usually incorporating some kind of special paint scheme. We’ve seen the hybrid coupe in Protonic Frozen Black, Protonic Yellow, and Protonic Red in the past. But now BMW is tapping its paint partner Toplac to create something beyond the pale — a pair of one-offs sprayed in 24-carat gold.
Though BMW’s scheme is actually fairly easy on the eyes, there just something irksome about a gold car. Gold-wrapped exotics are growing in popularity and usually the easiest way to spot the person you’ll most want to choke at a car meet. For example, YouTube prankster and New Jersey stereotype Coby Persin would frequently motor his own gold-covered BMW i8 into New York City to procure some unnecessary attention. In 2016, that vehicle was double parked on a busy Manhattan street with Persin sitting on the hood when an “angry motorist” came and hit it once on the windshield with a baseball bat.
Fortunately, the car was struck on the most easily replaced portion of the vehicle. There was also someone ready to film the incident, for no discernible reason. The video went viral, ended up being covered by major news outlets, and was later revealed to be a prank. Epic stunt, I guess. But it helps underline the point that gold cars are almost exclusively reserved for people with terrible sensibilities — the type that starts conversations with the word “yo,” repeat sentences three times to show enthusiasm, and have more money than taste.
That’s why it’s more than a little disconcerting to see manufacturers, dealerships, and businesses embracing the trend. Last month a Canadian dealership offered a new Aventador LP 750-4 SV Roadster in gold. Meanwhile, a New York-based company recently launched a rental business that offered metallic gold-wrapped vehicles in Jamaica as a New Jersey outlet doing the same expanded its domestic fleet. Hell, even celebrities are getting in on the action. Last year, Jamie Foxx had his Bugatti Veyron wrapped in a pirates’s booty and he was far from the only person to do so.
What sets the BMW’s apart from what is hopefully a short-lived fad, is that the gold i3 and i8 aren’t wrapped — they’re actually painted in real gold. In fact, you can see little flakes of the precious metal (provided by Liebscher Blattgold GmbH) embedded in the clear coat as the vehicles’ back half transitions to black. While the overall effect is still as subtle as an atomic blast, it’s interesting enough to hold your attention after the initial shock wears off. It took six layers of standard BMW paint and four layers of gold to achieve the look.
Dubbed the Starlight Edition, BMW Group Czech Republic says the models are limited to one each. Currently residing in a Prague showroom, the cars will appear at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival on July 4th before being sold at a charity auction with all proceeds donated to the Dagmar and Václav Havel Foundation VIZE 97.
It’s easy to give these BMWs a pass, since they’re going toward a charitable cause, but we’re still worried it could embolden more rich people to get metallic-colored cars — vehicles that make simultaneously blind us with reflected sunlight and envy as we judge its driver over the trifling matter of poor taste.
[Images: BMW Grouop]
A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.
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