A local BMW dealership that I have done some work for in the past approached me about a potential project. The manager of the service department was developing an internal company technician recognition program and was in need of some “hardware” to hand out. The manager wanted some sort of “Stanley Cup” for the award that would get passed around to each recipient. He wasn’t able to offer much of a suggestion as to what the award was supposed to be. All he knew is that he wanted something unique and he thought that I may be able to come up with an idea.

Well I pondered it over for a day and decided to pitch an idea to him that had been lurking in my mind for sometime. For some unknown reason I have had the urge to build a sign. I really have had no use for a sign and therefore no reason to build one. It’s not that I had any particular type of sign in mind; I just wanted to see what I could come up with. So with paper and pen in hand, along with some colored Hi-liters, I used all the skills I lack as an artist and sketched out a fairly pathetic artists rendering of what I envisioned I could build.

The idea was to build a 4 foot wide by 26 inch high aluminum sign. The shape, and feel, would mimic that of old school garages as well as modern BMW vehicle lines. As I pondered about what the point of the sign was I decided to create an “M Tech” theme award. For those of you who are unaware the “M” style BMWs are the high end performance line of BMW vehicles. Therefore it seemed fitting to provide a high end performance based award to the top technician.

So as I spent time researching and figuring out how to combine old school with M Power and came up with the following design. The overall shape mimicked that of old school garages combined with the features found on the back of an M5. I plan to incorporate some chrome tail pipe tips along with the air vent found on the rear of the M5. The sign would be made out of aluminum and incorporate multiple layers. It would also involve using different finishing such as paint, polishing, brushing, and anodizing.

Well I took my artists rendering to the service manager and pitched him my idea. I was bit shocked that he told me to “go for it” after only seeing my pathetic sketch. I suspect there must be a certain amount of trust involved as I am not much of a salesman.

So with given the green light I spent time getting the basic shape and dimensions finalized in AutoCAD. With some dimensions to work off of, a 4’ x 5’ sheet of utility grade aluminum, and some 6061 flat bar I stepped into the garage, broke out the plasma cutter and started shredding metal.

The backing, or base, that would support the rest of the sign was cut out from the sheet of aluminum using my homemade circle cutter to ensure the lines were uniform. The BMW emblem was designed to be 2 tier and was cut as per the AutoCAD specs to ensure the ratios all remained the same. The border was built from 1” x .125 aluminum 6061 flat bar. The entire border is made up of approximately 6 sections all welded together. The bends were either done with the ring roller or the Hossfeld clone bender.  I had acquired a complete set of 4 M3 chrome tailpipes which I had planned to use for the project. The pipes were too long so they all got trimmed down on the band saw and then cleaned up on the lathe.

So as it sits now the base and basics have all been rough cut and mocked up. Next step in the process will involve designing BMW font lettering and coming up with a technique to accurately cut them out of aluminum.


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