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Jan 10, 2012

Photography By: Quan Dong

Words By: Andy Carter

Wunderbar!: Michael Milano-Picardi’s VIP Mercedes CL500


Influence is a rather interesting phenomenon in automotive culture. There are, on the whole, three major camps: the European, the East Asian, and the North American, each of which has a near unlimited amount of subcultures and movements. While each of the spheres has their own unique aesthetics, individuals are constantly pulling ideas from each other and blending those designs into their own region’s styles. One can look to the American hot-rod culture’s influence on the European air-cooled Volkswagens or the American adoption of the Japanese tuner style.  Eventually these influences get passed around so many times, that they end up coming back to the original source in new ways. For example, the Japanese VIP scene was inspired by the large, classy sedans of Europe.  Japanese tuners were drawn to the imposing characters of cars like the Mercedes S Class and BMW 7 series, and sought to apply those same styling cues to their own domestic sedans, mixing the classy Old World style with the existing shakotan look. Michael Milano-Picardi was inspired by that bippu look and has applied it to his own Mercedes CL500; an American, modifying his European sports coupe in a manner invented by the Japanese for to mimic stately European sedans. Wunderbar!

To add to the mix, Michael has used a grab bag of parts in the building process. He employs a combination of traditional Japanese VIP pieces for the body, and mounted a gorgeous set of custom-finished American made D2 wheels to complete the look.

As inspired as this Merc is though, Michael is ready to move on. He has purchased a CLK63 and has already begun work on it. Here’s hoping that he continues to pull influence from around the world with that project as well.


Michael’s Mercedes CL500



  • Rear fenders widened
  • Front Lorinser style fenders, vents modified
  • Carlsson Rear lip, quad tips
  • WALD International front lip
  • Painted sidemarkers
  • Anceltion Hood Spoiler
  • Updated SL style grille
  • LED Puddle lights




  • ECU reflash
  • Exhaust cutouts
  • Adams Rotors dual slotted f&r rotors




  • JL Audio TW5 13.5″ Sub
  • Zapco 750/1 Amp
  • iPod integration
  • Garson/DAD goodies
  • colormatched engine covers


Wheels / Brakes / Suspension:


  • D2Forged VS7 Wheels 20×9.5 and 20×11 with Toyo T1-R 245/35/20, 265/30/20
  • Lowering Links
  • RENNtech Lowering Module
  • MB Arts one-off “Negative-Plus” rear camber and toe arms





Editor: Andy Carter