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500 miles with the BMW Performance Center M3

I take a BMW Performance Center M3 on three photo shoots, and bring it to MPACT, the largest BMW show on the east coast.


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By now, you know my own G80 M3 is still awaiting completion. But with MPACT happening on August 7, I needed a ride. There’s only one place that has a surplus of new M3s…the BMW Performance Center. So they let me borrow one. I had fun.

Day One – AMMO NYC

The M3s at the Performance Center live the life they were intended for – hard driving on a track. But to get the one they sent me car show-ready, I needed some help. That means heading to AMMO NYC for a visit with Larry.

Giving the M3 a bath.
BMW M3 AMMO wash
The car had decals on the carbon fiber roof as well.

This M3 had a livery on it, and the delicate decals required extra care to work around. In a full day, Larry washed, paint-corrected, coated and cleaned the interior. He has a video coming out with the car very soon, but suffice it to say, it looked amazing.

BMW M3 AMMO wash
Larry lifts up the car to clean the undercarriage.
BMW M3 wheels
Not easy to clean these
BMW M3 Larry Kosilla
Had to let Larry take it for a spin…

Day Two – BMW NYC Photoshoot

The new M3 is still a rare site, and one done up in this set of decals from the BMW Performance Center certainly caught a few looks. And the best place to draw more looks would be New York City, with a visit to BMW of Manhattan.

While there, I took the car over to Brooklyn (because you can’t see the skyline from inside the island), and then over to New Jersey’s Liberty State Park. Shooting a BMW 3 Series in and around the island of Manhattan is both what I do best, and one of my favorite things to do.

The skyline from the Brooklyn side.
Classic side profile.
Pretty impossible to shoot at this famous location, but worth a try.
The skyline from Jersey City

The Carbon Fiber Bucket seats

As you can already tell, I had a lot of seat time in this M3, and it was equipped with the optional carbon fiber sport seats. I’ve written about how uncomfortable they are, and I did not order them on my own car. Did I change my mind after spending so much time in them?


Their biggest sin is getting in and out. I made a habit of pushing the seat all the way back to make exiting easier by moving the steering wheel out of the way. Once you’re in them, they are thinly padded, but you get used to it. Driving in them isn’t a terrible thing.

If you plan on doing a lot of track driving, get them. Otherwise, consider both yourself and who will be sitting with you. They look great, but once the novelty wears off, you might wish for just a bit more padding.

Caarbon Fiber seats
Try before you buy.

Day Three – MPACT

Up and at the track by 6:30 AM, I was ready to go.

I parked the freshly detailed M3 at the PDC booth, caught a few shots of it at the show, and then went on to cover the day.

MPACT is a happy day, but I admit to being a little sad at giving the keys back to BMW Instructor Derek Leonard for his return trip back to South Carolina.

I’ll have a 2021 show recap soon.

Good bye M3…

The kid

The new M3 is polarizing – the grill, the seats. People seem to look at it (and me) with love or disdain. The badge has a lot of baggage with 30 years of history behind it.

After a day of shooting in New York City I was tired, and in those seats, sitting in an hour’s worth of traffic to get through the Lincoln Tunnel. It was a nice summer evening, and the windows were down. Suddenly, a young boy on a bike stopped and yelled “WOW!, I LOVE this car! Is this the new M3?!” The affection and awe on his face was genuine, and it was probably the most honest reaction I had gotten during my time with the car.

Moments like that help remind me why I care about these cars so much. I hope it’s inspired him like M3s of yore inspired me.

BMW M3 Brooklyn Bridge
Big thanks to everyone for making this dream trip happen!

Special thanks to the BMW Performance Center and RITTA for putting this all together.

Also thanks to Tony Tomaselli for being my wing man, Louis Cortes for setting up BMW NYC, Larry Kosilla for prepping the car, and BMW Instructor Derek Leonard for making it to MPACT.

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I use Nikon camera bodies and lenses, a Westcott Ice Light 2, Manfrotto tripod, B + W filters and an iMac Pro to make the art you see here.

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