Sunset After Sunrise

Sunset After Sunrise written by Mike@IND

I had the pleasure of shooting photos of this glimmering Sunset Orange example early after sunrise. Like the cycle of a given day, they say that history repeats itself. The shoot gave me a unique opportunity to capture all the car’s little nuances and ponder its place in BMW’s storied history. Admittedly, and maybe as a surprise to most, spending time with M2 Competition in person certainly has me feeling nostalgic—namely for the E46 M3. Let me explain.

BMW E36 M3: IND Painted Front Grille Set – Black Chrome

For the North American market, BMW put the S50/2 in the E36 M3. The engine was more or less a massaged non-M kit, shy nearly 80 horsepower of its European counterpart. It was more or less an experiment to see whether North America had the stomach for the bigger, badder M cars without sinking a ton of money into the effort. But you know what? That S50/S52 sang like hell and still tickled the hearts of everyone that has (or still) owned one. I remember staring at the BMW brochures in 1995—the E36 looked the part, dressed handsomely in Dakar Yellow—a color that certainly could go punch for punch with its ability to turn a corner.

BMW E46 M3: IND Painted Front Reflector Set – Jet Black

BMW E46 M3: Eventuri Carbon Intake

The E36’s praise was proof enough for BMW—they finally put us on par with the rest of the world with the E46 M3. This was a firecracker of a car and a revolutionary change here in the US, though admittedly (and not to downplay it at all), evolutionary (on paper or otherwise) in Europe. A touch of refinement here. A bit more oomph for good measure. Those Scarlett Johansson hips. Good lord! Although it may have largely been an indication to BMW that the US had proverbially “arrived”, it seemed to spark a new sense of experimentation and creativity within their walls for what was to come.

BMW 1M: IND Painted Side Grille Set (Black Chrome) + BBS FI-R 19” Wheel Set

2011 brought us the BMW 1M. The press always likened it to the E30 M3, but its non-M motor foundation always seemed to parallel the E36 for me—both heralded as one of the greatest driving cars in their respective eras, all despite relegating “regular” BMW motors to the helm. It was another experiment gone right, so much so that when BMW announced the M2, the N55 was an easy choice. But the time was ripe for BMW to get creative once again.

BMW M2: IND Painted Front Reflector Set – Alpine White

BMW M2: RKP Carbon Diffuser

Enter the M2 Competition.

In the same way I’ve likened the E36 to the 1M, you can sense the lineage similarities between the E46 and the M2C. The Competition is an evolution, a welcomed arrival after years of learning, but a familiar place to call home. You go through the same motions to start the car as you would with an OG M2, but you’re greeted by little touches throughout—the start button, the seats, tri-color seat belts forward and aft. And lest not forget about the M2 Competition greeting on the gauge cluster. Hello there.

You can say the same taking a quick lap around the car. A bit of chiseling to the front end, new brakes and bespoke wheels, a second line of text below the beltline of the trunk emblem. M mirrors.

BMW M2 Competition Trunk Emblem

BMW M2 / Competition: IND Painted Side Grille Set – Sunset Orange

But once you’re driving it, you know you’re piloting something altogether different. The engine obviously has a great deal to do with it, but truthfully, it’s the sum of its parts rather than a single defining characteristic that makes the Competition distinctive. Like Scarlet Jo— nevermind.

BMW M2 / Competition: Acexxon Rear Reflector Insert Set – Horizontal Slat (Matte Finish)

Although the Competition’s arrival has ruffled more than a few feathers, I can’t help but think that it’s special in its own way, a complimentary character rather than a foe. If this is the track we’re on with BMW’s evolution, I’m certainly looking forward to when BMW decides to repeat history all over again.

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