My BMW X-5: Going Stealth and Zombie Apocalypse

I dearly love my X-5. 110K miles & counting. My previous vehicle was a Hummer. Didn’t fit in the parking space in the lofts we were moving to. At 6″ wider than a Suburban, no go. I’ve also owned a couple of Jeep Grand Cherokees, and so have some experience with after market wheels & tires.

I put huge rub-rub thing-tires (some guys will know what I mean) on a Cherokee, on the 15″ rims. It completely got the look to way envy worthy.

For the X-5, I eventually went with 20″ alloys and low profile tires, 275s on the front, 315s on the rear—you don’t need to rotate the tires on BMWs. They’ve simply engineered the suspension properly, and they wear evenly without rotation—110K miles and counting. Never a tire rotation.

Beemer on Tow

Incidentally, looks like the T@DA is sold. Retired Canadian couple making their way down to pick it up, then make their way back up. We’re going with something a bit larger, heavier, but with 200% better sleeping arrangements. Secret: I’m netting about $1,500 in the trade.

But I have a problem. Hang gliding is costing me a lot of money and it shouldn’t because as we say, it’s “free flight.” This trip up the hill cost a lot in shredded tires.

So, I’m taking my lovely X-5, easily the best car I have ever owned, and I’m going to drive it until that 4.4L V8 bites it in a coupla hunerd K. I’m going to transform its gloss grey and fake rims & tires.

Here’s the meta theme:

Theme – Matte Black

Here’s the variation, because I need wheels that aren’t’ going to break (yes, I have a crack in one of my alloys, and it leaks air), and above something that surpasses pussy-poser dimensions (grew up with SUVs…we actually climbed mountains with them).

So, here’s the other half.

Zombie Apocalypse 1
Zombie Apocalypse

Yep, hearty 15″ steel wheels, big ass tires. I’ll got for all season, as I’m no fan of my tires competing with the sterio.

Now, imagine that matte black finish with something like those wheels and tires.

I’ll post a pic when I get done.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Steve on September 16, 2013 at 19:42

    I love the matte black. The whole purpose of the color black is that it’s informationless, it doesn’t exist. It’s a complete lack of color. Matte black takes away the reflectivity and makes it even blacker. Perfect.

  2. Rob O. on September 17, 2013 at 08:16

    Have a good buddy who just DIY coated his rims in black and they look great. It was the “Plus” kit that he got here:

    And if you’re gonna go black on the rims, ain’t nothing wrong with painting your calipers a bold color so they pop out! We did that on my wife’s old VW New Beetle ‘Vert:

  3. Rob O. on September 16, 2013 at 18:18

    Yeah, I’m especially loathe to see these pussy wagons (and no, I don’t mean that in the Danny Zuko sense) with massive 20″ rims and barely-there ultra-low-profile tires rolling around town. Good Lord, I’ll bet Fred Flintstone’s ride was smoother than these poser SUVs that have never seen as much as a bumpy alley!

    I do hafta say that I like the matte black basic rims. That’s utilitarian in the old school sense, but still with some style!

  4. Richard Nikoley on September 16, 2013 at 18:45

    Yea, Rob O. I deserve my spanking. I probably could have squeaked by with 19″. But those 20″ have been a disaster. First off, they guys hyped these high performance Michelins and since I’ve always had good luck with the brand, I bit. We’re talking about $1800 in tire. Those 315s on the rear are about $500 each.

    Lucky if I got 20,000 miles from them. Upon investigation, turns out the “performance” comes from soft, more sticky rubber blend, and they wear fast.

    Anyway, it’s going to be behind me soon.

  5. Eric on September 16, 2013 at 20:34

    None more black? Nigel approves.

    But, the more awesome it is the less stealthy it is.
    A rusty Suzuki Sidekick, now THAT’s stealthy.

  6. bornagain on September 17, 2013 at 02:41

    Are you repainting the car or using vinyl wrap? I’d go for the vinyl wrap myself.

  7. denis on September 17, 2013 at 03:50

    As bornagain mentioned vinyl wraping is a way to go. If you dont like the color, just peel of the vinyl.
    Another interesting method i came across some days ago is plasti-dipping. Sounds easy to do yourself and the price ist very good. I found a youtube channel called dipyourcarcom. Maybe you should check it out. I haven´t seen this method here in Germany now, but it sounds promising. 🙂

  8. Jeremy Fox on September 17, 2013 at 04:54

    There’s also PlastiDip for getting your vehicle a nice matte finish in any color you want, really. And it peels off if you want to take it off and change the color. – This website keeps a listing of custom shops that do the coatings nationwide.

  9. John on September 17, 2013 at 07:18

    I have Goodyear Wrangler Duratracs on my Wrangler (315/70/17 if you must know:)). They’re very quiet. They’re an AT tire that looks like a mud tire. By far the most popular choice on the various Wrangler forums.

    People who ride in my car say they can’t believe how quiet they are. I’ve asked people who don’t say anything if they notice the tires, and they always say no.

    Great in rain too, light weight.

    Google images

  10. Richard Nikoley on September 17, 2013 at 08:12


    Thanks for all the tips. I had never considered vinyl or plasti dip. All I knew is that a competent clean room paint job here in CA would likely sink me to the tune of 6-8k for a quality job.

    The plasti dip looks like the ticket for me. For one, I’m competent with a spray gun. My dad was a painting contractor and I’ve sprayed everything from walls to trim to cabinets. Second, I can also do the insides of the doors, back hatch and hood, even inside the gas fill cover for a really pro look.

    It’ll save me thousands. Thank you very much. BTW, watched a 30 min video by a guy who did like 6 coats on his Audi (matte black over white) in a single day. Piece of cake.

  11. John on September 17, 2013 at 10:24

    The thing with plasti dip is it peels off if you don’t want it, or if something hits it. you can literally take it off in a sheet and leave no trace. Awesome stuff but not “permanent” in the vein of auto paint. This is its strength and weakness.

    That said, I plasti dipped my JEEP logo a few months ago, and its fared pretty well under the FL insect assault at highway speeds.

  12. Richard Nikoley on September 17, 2013 at 12:43

    Yep, I do definitely see the tradeoff limitations. But, for tiny dings there’s the repair stuff that basically re liquifies the plastic. For a large area, just strip it off and redo the whole pannel.

    We’ll see. Think Im going to. Give it a try. From the videos, this looks too ridiculously easy and inexpensive not to.

  13. Dr. Curmugeon Gee on September 17, 2013 at 14:31

    20″ wheel & 4WD => oxymoron

    15″ wheel & 4WD => trenchant


  14. bornagain on September 18, 2013 at 04:15

    Glad I could help. I’ve always felt guilty about not buying a copy of your book so I’m glad to finally have the chance to return a favor. I’ve read 99% of what you’ve ever written on your blog ever since you showed up at Art Devany’s site many years ago so I didn’t see any point in buying the book to be honest (honestylog! get it!).

    Ah, the fun I’ve had reading your blog. The initial transition and discovery of paleo; the scientific fact digging in which you found vitamins K2 and D; the liver discovery; the AHS, dare I mention it, the Paleo War; the Kurt Harris era; Sean from Prague; the closing of your business; getting to know your wife, dad and dogs of whom speak often enough; nearly getting into a physical confrontation with some Paleo nut (he backed down if I recall); that crazy banana guy; moving out of the loft; Aynn Rand; that philosophy series from that dog lover guy (Greg?); your own philosophy series; the stories about your travel in the Navy; the food, oh! the food is just divine; the sharing of the losses you’ve had with some of your nearest and dearest friends and now we have resistant starch which I am trying with great success.

    If you have taught me one thing Richard it’s to believe in myself, never give up and only look forward. Ok, that’s three things but fuck it – onwards!

    Thanks Richard. You’re not that much of cunt, really.

  15. Richard Nikoley on September 18, 2013 at 07:38

    After spending way too much time researching yesterday, I’m going to DIY a vinyl wrap on the large areas, then use plasti dip for the doors and rear hatch jambs, under the hood, door handles, side view mirrors, roof rack and my hang glider front rack. Oh, and all the chrome trim as well.

    Here’s a very nice writeup on the DIY process, with links to other 1st timer experience.

    For instance, check out this one:

  16. Jeremy Fox on September 20, 2013 at 07:14

    Always glad to help others save money! Looking forward to seeing the results!

  17. The Beemer X5 Project | Free The Animal on October 2, 2013 at 07:41

    […] was pleased with so many helpful comments before that seriously steered me this way and that, so here's an update and a bit of a […]

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