Walter Bucco's E46 M3

Photography by Matt Petrie

Allow me to begin by clearing the air -Yes, this is the famous E46 M3 that once upon a time had a custom fabbed 1M/E46 M3 hybrid front bumper (Photo). While it received a lot of criticism on the forums, Walter shrugged it off laughing, backing up his original idea that “it’s only a bumper and it can be changed”. Those who had their negative comments didn’t do their homework on Walter. He wasn’t known as the “OG Papa Smurf” for nothing. Back in 2001, Walter took delivery of one of the first Laguna Seca Blue M3’s in the country. It wasn’t long before his car was outfitted with various wheels, brakes and body work. He had every authentic setup on his car from AC Schnitzer, Hamann, Racing Dynamics, and Hartge just to name a few. Lest we forget that this was time before replica parts existed, furthermore, this was before the popularity and surplus of internet forums and vendors. He had to do his ordering through catalogues and get his parts from overseas. The E46 modding of yesteryear was a time when people built their cars with full kits and matching wheels from one manufacturer to hold a theme, but that trend has died off over the years for better or worse depending on who you talk to. Having literally done it all, he wanted to try something new this time around with the color and bumper. You can view the gallery of Walter’s LSB M3 below the article.

I’m sorry if I confused you, but this is not the same car as his original Laguna Seca M3. He sold that off years ago and joined the “dark side” with a couple of heavily modified AMG sedans (E55 and C63 to be exact). Now despite these AMG cars pulling like freight trains and having his passenger seat soiled often, Walter, like many, always regretted selling off his E46 M3. He felt that there was something lacking in his driving experience that he only had in the M3. After months of searching, he finally sourced an M3 that would suit him: Silver Grey on Cinnamon leather 6 speed. With the car in need of a respray, he wanted to do something different. He wanted to keep the color OEM, but not to the Bavarian motherland, instead he followed the prancing horse. Wanting to stay in the grey family, Ferrari Grigio Medio was his undisputed selection. Although his decision was quick, attaining the color code was not. Week after week of battling back and forth with Ferrari, Bill Calamusa, the owner of the body shop and longtime friend of Walter’s had flexed his muscle in the industry and finally received the OEM color code. While the majority of the public couldn’t agree on his bumper, the one thing that received 100% satisfaction was his color choice.

Although it is often mistaken for Scion’s or Lamborghini’s similar shade of grey, when seeing comparisons the difference is clear. I’ve never actually seen a color quite like Grigio Medio before. Sure, chameleon colors are nothing new, but this is far from that. Grigio Medio as a whole changes so drastically in different lighting, yet doesn’t have an ounce of metallic pearl in it. During the shoot, the sunlight was quickly breaking its way in and out of the clouds changing the appearance of the car dramatically. Many people do not like silver or grey because it is neutral and lifeless, but the browns, blues and greens this car gave off defies that grey theory. Honestly, no photo will ever do it justice; it is simply best appreciated in person. It’s just one of those elements that would make owning a Ferrari so special; however, the general consensus is that the E46 lines pull it off just fine. 

 In proper “OG” fashion he sourced an original, but beat up, set of Racing Dynamic RS2 faces and shipped them out to California to be cleaned up. The faces were powder coated back home on the East Coast in a light gun metal to blend in a little smoother with the new body color. With the sizing guidance and building of these wheels done by New Jersey native, Stefan Djuric aka SDWheels, his final dimensions are 19 x 9.5 & 10.5” (offsets disclosed). His Ground Control coilovers are low enough to make him happy without it being too burdensome from town to town. He returned to an appropriate OEM European M3 front bumper that cleans up the front with no reflectors. While the lack of reflectors is a minor detail, it’s the true enthusiasts who will notice and appreciate that little touch. A carbon fiber “snowboard” front lip brings Walt back to the days when he was sporting and breaking the $850 piece from Hamann. Now decent enough replicas are out that don’t kill him inside every time he scrapes it on driveways. Out back he swapped his Top Speed muffler out for a Rogue Engineering El Diablo Track, but now has finally settled on the notes of the Status Group exhaust as the S54 screams through gears.

Over a decade ago, Walter was setting his own path in modifying his first E46 M3; there were even some setups he pulled off that were never attempted again. Just like now, there were times that he caused a commotion amongst the community while he was building the car the way he wanted. I agreed that the 1M bumper was too new of a generation to mix into the E46 lines, but the point is that he went his own way and attempted it. I have nothing but admiration towards him for doing so. As a close friend of Walter’s I know that this is how he conducts himself personally on a daily basis, which is an equally admirable quality. It’s hard to take a chassis that has been so modified over the years and come out with a different take on it, but he has succeeded once again. If there was a book on how to modify the E46 M3, you can be certain that Walt would have his own chapter.


Supercharged Lime Rock M3 Duo

Photography by Matt Petrie

Lime Rock Park is a world famous race track in the Northwest corner of Connecticut owned by Skip Barber. BMW has been the main partner company of Lime Rock Park for years, yet it wasn’t until recently that they decided on creating a special edition car to celebrate their historic relationship. Never before has any manufacturer branded a vehicle with the “Lime Rock” name, but Skip Barber felt that the style of the track and the performance capabilities of the M3 were a combination that go hand-in-hand together. The commemorative Lime Rock Edition was born, but only 200 units were produced worldwide in the famous “Fire Orange”. No major changes were made to the performance over a normal M3, just slight BMW Performance bits like the exhaust, carbon fiber roof, trunk lip and alcantara steering wheel. The car is fractionally lower than a normal M3 and the ECU is prepared differently, allowing a less restrictive DSC and the removal of the speed governor. Some came with the 6 speed manual gear box, and even fewer with the black competition wheels and DCT transmission.

Bill and Matt are 2 lucky people out of 200 to own a Lime Rock Edition M3. Still, they wanted more than what BMW had to offer. After purchasing these cars at about the same point in time, they knew they wanted to have their cars modified and supercharged by AUTOcouture Motoring. Bill is resident of Northern New Jersey, local to ACM, and Matt is from the Maryland area. You could imagine what the phone conversations sounded like when a customer called to have his brand new, low production, Lime Rock Edition M3 supercharged and then less than a week later another person calls out of the blue to have their Lime Rock supercharged as well. By the second phone call the guys at ACM thought they were being prank called; having the opportunity to not only turn out the first supercharged Lime Rock Edition in the world, but two of them back to back. 

Despite the two of them being orange on black, they have different personalities. Bill opted to go a little flashier with the limited production full carbon fiber Vorsteiner GTS-V front bumper with the OEM GTS wing. He chose Brembo GT 380mm BBK in matching Fire Orange to pop out behind the OEM black competition wheels. The carbon fiber theme is carried out around the car from the side gills and the Platte Forme AG carbon fiber side steps to the Vorsteiner GTS-V rear diffuser harboring the Evolve E-tronic exhaust with ACM Test pipes. The interior does not allow you forget what color car you are driving. Fire Orange was done on the trim pieces, center console, GTS steering wheel and his ACM extended DCT paddles. Double Diamond stitched suede door cards and P3 boost gauge finish off the interior. Bill chose the ESS Tuning VT625 kit and as you would’ve guessed it, his plenum and supercharger were also done in Fire Orange. 

Matt’s black and orange theme is a little more subtle around the exterior of the car. Custom painted LightModz headlights and meaty Volk TE37-SL’s in black with matching orange stickers accent the fire orange with simplicity. The Volks are sitting tight below his KW sleeve over suspension. OEM BMW Performance carbon fiber trunk lip adds just the right amount of weave that slides off from the carbon roof. ACM Test pipes, Active Autowerke rear section and Remus power tubes give this ESS Tuning VT650 supercharged V8 a harmonious symphony that’s enjoyed throughout the power band. Inside the car is not quite as understated, as a matter of fact this car is known as #THESTATEMENT. Upon walking up closer, the first things you’ll notice are the Autopower 6 point roll cage and custom stitched Recaro Pole Position seats. The Corbeau harnesses, orange diamond stitched suede door cards, P3 boost gauge, and the Rogue Engineering SSK 6 speed manual gear box tell you that this car will have no trouble extending itself beyond what its badged name claims. His plenum and supercharger were finished in a beautiful pearl metallic black and in proper commemoration to Lime Rock Park; the track layout was stenciled on the plenum in Fire Orange.

With any low production car, many owners will buy them and keep them stock with the miles low as investments. Then there are those on the other end of the spectrum who are as crazy as Bill and Matt; who bought two rare cars and with less than 7,000 miles on the odometer already spent tens of thousands of dollars modifying them to their liking and styles.  Although these cars appear to be similar, they are very different in their own right. People like Bill and Matt are few and far between who will go out of their way to do something different. It is these forerunners who don’t always get the credit they deserve, but guys that we wouldn’t mind being for a day. 


4300hp in Downtown NYC

Photography by Matt Petrie

Sam, the owner of Mode Carbon, reached out to me to do some photography work for his carbon fiber company’s new venture: Carbon Couture.  It is a collaboration between Mode Carbon and AUTOcouture Motoring, bringing their high end carbon fiber products like front lips and side skirt add-ons to the BMW community.  He and I had been discussing photo shoot ideas for weeks, but the weather and project cars going in and out of the shop had thrown us through some loops while trying to sort out the specifics.  We still couldn’t figure out a definite location, but the plan was to shoot 3 or 4 E9x M3’s sporting the Mode Carbon aero pieces.  We finally settled on 4 E9x M3’s, all of which were heavily modified, including ESS superchargers, by AUTOcouture Motoring.  The latest car to be supercharged, literally just getting buttoned up that afternoon, was Matt’s Lime Rock Edition M3.  Earlier in the week, Matt had traveled up from Maryland to have the guys at ACM take care of his car the way they had done for his friend Eric who owns the Black E90 M3 on Battleship Grey ADV1’s.   Eric and Matt drove up here to New Jersey to pick up the now completed Lime Rock, but with a little surprise.  Their good friend Dustin Worles of the Mischief movie series came up with them to do some filming for Mischief.TV as well.  We called our friends Alex, Elliot, and Tim of Euro Techniks to come out and cruise along in the murdered out X5M and Dakar Yellow Individual E93 M3.  Our camera mule, conveniently, was a supercharged Range Rover, so we had no trouble setting the pace or tagging along to get the shots we were looking for. 

It was chilly Friday night, but not terrible for this time of year so we rendezvoused at the shop at 9PM, grabbed some food and fuel then made our way over to New York City.  We knew of a great location downtown with old cobble stone roads and a partial view of the Brooklyn Bridge that we felt would be suitable for the shoot.  Manhattan, as usual, was hopping on a Friday night.  The sights and sounds of our cars both annoyed and excited people in the city as the exhaust notes reverberated off of the sky scrapers.  We jumped back out onto the West Side Highway to do a little cruising and take a break from the gridlocked cabbies. 

Appropriately, there was an Irish Ale house around the corner from the photo shoot location where some of the guys (who weren’t driving of course) went to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.  We enjoyed showing the Mid-Atlantic group some of New York City and we ended the night fittingly with a stop at the Chicken and Rice Halal cart on 53rd.


Sal Benanti's E92 M3

Photography by Matt Petrie

If you own an E9x M3, there’s an 88% chance yours is Alpine White.  While this statistic is fabricated, there is no denying the surplus of the Alpine finish on the E9x platform.  Not saying that this is a bad thing, despite it being a classic BMW color, looking good on any chassis, it easily gets lost in the sea of cars that are in dealerships and at local shows.  Sal Benanti, co-owner of AUTOcouture Motoring in New Jersey, knew that in order to make a statement he had to do something totally out of the box while paying homage to the BMW Motorsports heritage.  It’s absolutely unanimous that he accomplished this with flying colors in two ways:  an OEM Techno Violet respray and his famous “Motorsports Spatter” paint scheme on his manifold and trim pieces.  Now dubbed “Big Purp” all across the internet and social media, Sal has certainly set the bar when it comes to modifying the E92 platform.  Creating a truly unique M3, there is not one aspect of this car that has been overlooked and every modification was thought out and ties in perfectly with the next.


Sal has never been shy in the performance department with any car he has owned, but this is certainly his most powerful.  He chose the ESS Tuning VT2-650 supercharger kit, custom painted with the Motorsports Spatter by IND.  All of the mechanical work was done in house by his certified technicians Jay Stromeyer and Thomas Limatola, including the custom modified exhaust system.  The primary cats were deleted and replaced with their ACM test pipes and the factory exhaust was modified to give it a better sound than most aftermarket exhausts all while retaining the factory look and visually undetectable to void the warranty.  In order to stop all of that power he chose an Alcon BBK.  At 405mm, calling it a “big” brake kit is an understatement, so you can be sure that all of his 600 horsepower gets halted with the slightest ease.


Seeing its fair share of track days, Sal chose to go with Volk TE37-SL’s in 18 inches (f – 9.5 / r -10.5) with KW Club Sport coilovers and Racing Dynamic sway bars.  To complement the Techno Violet paint, he added a European Spec OEM M3 front bumper with a Mode Carbon V2 carbon fiber front lip.  Local lighting guru, Jehad Zeidan at LightModz, retro fitted quad projectors into his headlights and completed the updated look with OEM LCI tail lights and a Vorsteiner double sided CSL style trunk out back.  Techno Violet painted roundels by Xclusv Autosport completed their paint job in the most fitting way.


Recaro Sportster CS seats were rewrapped in OEM Fox Red leather by Xclusv Autosport to hold true to Sal’s slightly extreme OEM+ theme in and out of the car.  To match the plenum, the interior looks like a motorsports crime scene with light blue, dark blue and red spattered about the cabin.  His P3 boost gauge, integrated in the trim, allows for proper readings at a glance without any trouble or unwarranted attention.  Lastly, as any driver can relate to is the importance of the steering wheel.  The flat-bottomed OEM Alcantara Performance wheel with ACM extended DCT paddles makes the driving experience just that much better.


The car will be undergoing major reconstruction in preparation for the 2013 track and show season so expect the bar to be raised yet again by the team that brought to you Big Purp.