"The Ultimate Driving Machine" BMW set its sights on creating the ultimate ad homage, and rung up TRON: Legacy Director Joe Kosinski and editor Jim Haygood for a fresh twist on the "Refuel" commercial.
The BMW 5 series car is minding its own, blazing down a long stretch of desert highway when a massive Boeing KC-135 appears, lowering a fuel dispenser down to the car. The entire KC-135 was built digitally by the crafty people at Digital Domain. The digital production team was led by VFX Supervisor Eric Barba (who was also VFX Supervisor on "TRON: Legacy"). He worked closely with Kosinski to determine stall speed and the kinds of real interactions that would take place between the car and the ground to make the spot wholly believable. Have a look.
The twist of course, is that the BMW 5-series' driver opens the sunroof to receive more coffee, he's in no need of gas for the car.
The original ad, for Shell was done without CGI, with an actual formula one car racing through the Mojave desert. The F310B is then greeted by a refueling line sent down from an aircraft. The production company then was RSA/USA and director was Alan Van Rijn while creative came from J.Walter Thompson, London.
In 2000, the United States Air Force wanted to show-off and prove they do this sorta thing all the time, with an ad showing the refueling of a Stealth bomber in air, leading Claymore to quip "I wonder how they check the oil?". That's for another commercial.