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    Rally Round / #Saxon-Motorsport The team’s engineers take on a technical challenge. As well as prepping its own race cars for the VLN and a trip to Spa, Saxon Motorsport has been busy fettling a BMW diesel for a Polish rally raid team. #BMW / #2016

    On Cotswold Saxon’s return from round seven of the #VLN-Endurance series at the Nürburgring, the team set about preparing for round eight with its V10 #BMW-150 and #BMW-120d race cars. The 120d was again to be driven by Ellis Hadley, Martin Gibson and Tom Barrow as they completed their qualification process to compete in the #2017 24-Hour race around the infamous Nordschleife circuit. The V10 would once again be driven by team owner Nick Barrow and Miami-based regular driver Jamie Morrow.

    However, before preparation of the race cars could begin Saxon had another project to attend to. As Bosch Motorsport dealers with vast experience of competition diesel powerplants, various competition outfits come into contact with the team and become aware of its expertise. One such company, encouraged by Bosch, is Polish rally raid specialist, Neoraid. Based to the south-east of Krakow, the rally raid racing team competes in cross-country rallies worldwide, completing the Paris Dakar rally in two of its three entries since 2014 in #BMW-X3-CC s. The team had recently taken delivery of a #BMW-X5-CC with a very special early #M57 3.0-litre diesel engine developed in conjunction with #BMW-Motorsport . This is a similar unit to that used by Saxon until it switched to the current #N57 late last year. Being fitted with a Bosch Motorsport competition ECU by the engine’s previous rally raid owners, Neoraid found itself lacking the experience and data to exploit the engine’s potential and was directed towards Saxon to look for assistance. Items of note fitted to the powerplant included a bespoke CNC-machined dry sump installation with associated oil pump, a CNCmachined rocker cover replacing the standard moulded composite item, and bespoke twin-turbos with associated manifolds and actuators.

    The twin-turbo system had been developed to maintain maximum power output despite the fitting of an FIA-spec inlet restrictor, mandatory for Dakartype rally events for turbo vehicles in any fuel class. This meant additional complications for chief engineer Jon Taylor as he needed to synchronise the small VGT (Variable Geometry Turbo) with the larger unit cutting in at higher engine speeds together with the various wastegate and diverter actuators.

    Having agreed to take on the project, an understanding was reached with Neoraid that the engine would be fitted in a test rig and delivered to the team’s Hereford base by the Neoraid team manager and one of its engineers. The engine, ECU, and all components would be fully wired and ready to map. Three days were allowed for the task. However, as is often the case in motor racing, the project was a little behind schedule. Upon arrival, as can be seen from the accompanying photographs, the wiring loom was still a long way from being completed! Undaunted, Jon and the attendant engineer set about sorting out the various connections and inter-connections between components and recording all the wiring pin details so that a more suitable wiring loom could be produced later. During this phase a two-stage intake air cooling feature was discovered; this consisted of an initial air-to-water chargecooler followed by a conventional air-to-air cooler for the secondary stage. A lightweight 180A McLaren TAG alternator was fitted.

    The Bosch Competition ECU had been installed, calibrated and mapped by Bosch with bespoke Bosch-manufactured, BMW-assembled injectors, for which no data was available…

    After some head scratching – and discovering the astronomical cost of having the injectors dismantled and interrogated by Bosch – Saxon and Neoraid decided that standard BMW injectors should be fitted instead. Saxon’s experience with the M57 engine came into play here as the team’s development of the early engine resulted in it knowing which injector gives the best spray pattern and distribution characteristics for this type of endurance engine. As delivered to Hereford, the engine was also fitted with larger valves – necessitating piston cut-outs – a ported and polished cylinder head and a #Bosch-Motorsport ‘Fuel Hydraulic System’ delivering up to 2100bar of fuel line pressure!

    One problem experienced and effectively managed by Saxon whilst using this engine was a tendency for the crankcase breather to allow oil to escape. The problem has been resolved on the latest standard N57 engine and so the team’s catch tank was no longer required. This engine, however, was fitted with a bespoke oil separator pump to address the problem.

    Despite the slow start to rewire various sections and the time it took to become acquainted with several components new to Saxon, the team of Saxon and Neoraid engineers completed the task in the allotted three days in the team’s tuning bay. By the time the two engineers departed for their base in Poland they had a running engine with all components integrated and working together on a base map.

    The engine will now be removed from its test rig in Poland and installed in Neoraid’s X5-based rally raid car for the necessary wiring and supply systems to be installed around it. As the vehicle is all-wheel drive and Saxon’s rolling road is a single roller installation, Jon Taylor will then fly to Krakow and work at a local twin-roller road to fine-tune his map for the performance required by the team.

    To date, the project has been an interesting variation on the work carried out on the team’s own race cars but on a vehicle being built to a completely different design brief but with significant similarities in the propulsion unit. Saxon was very interested to be part of the development of the powerplant and Neoraid has gained enormous experience with the M57 engine through this collaboration so far.

    Meanwhile, as the Neoraid team returned to Poland, Saxon’s attention returned once again to its own cars. Whilst the 120d was left in a similar setup as used last time out (in order for Martin and Ellis to continue assessment of the Giti tyres), the Chinese company had been unable to produce the next development tyre specifically for the ‘Ring in time for round eight. The drivers therefore continued to collect data and experiment with the setup using the existing rubber. Further improvements to the V10 were, however, planned following the last outing.

    The hoped-for power steering improvement had failed to materialise last time out and so Jon Taylor set about fitting yet another larger capacity hydraulic pump, this time engine-driven rather than the previous electric version. This caused several packaging problems as space is at such a premium under the bonnet with the 5.0-litre engine installed and Jon resorted to purpose-made mounting brackets, belts, tensioners and idler pulleys in order to install the pump. Initial indications, however, suggested that the effort may well have been worthwhile with considerably less effort required on rapid lock-to-lock movements, whereas previously the hydraulic system failed to keep pace.


    Further work will be carried out on the paddlechange software to smooth-out gear synchronisation on up-changes. Another possible reason for this roughness emerged whilst examining the data from the previous race as it became apparent that the engine was failing to lose sufficient rpm for the next ratio to engage smoothly. To try to address this, the team has ordered a lightweight double-plate racing clutch and corresponding flywheel to reduce the energy within the drivetrain; the inertia generated by the standard 15kg flywheel/clutch combination was too high to allow the engine revs to fall fast enough. Hopefully this will improve the situation and transfer less stress to the Drenth gearbox; however, this will not be available until after the car’s next planned outing at Spa on 9-10th October.


    The team’s drivers were still anxious to dial-out some of the power-on understeer that the V10 experiences during the exit stage of a corner. Drivers reported that initial turn-in is good but despite this the car suffers with understeer as power is applied. To attempt to overcome this characteristic, the team fitted new ramps to the Drexler limited-slip diff to alter the limited-slip effect and also rebuild the spare diff with fewer active friction discs as an alternative. Both options were tested in the practice session at the ‘Ring, together with larger front tyres (now the same 285 width as fitted to the rear). In addition, a new more sophisticated traction control map was uploaded with additional feedback to make the most of the modified ramp characteristics.

    The Saxon team was confident that these changes – together with the front tyre options and all the existing setup alterations available – would enable the car to remain neutral throughout all cornering phases. The team left for the Nürburgring on the Wednesday night prior to the next race on Saturday 24 September, hopeful of a class win with the 120d and at least a podium position with the V10 if the modifications were as effective as expected.

    On arrival at Friday’s practice at the Nürburgring it soon became apparent that the reworked diff with fewer friction plates was definitely not the way to proceed and so the team quickly replaced this unit with the ‘re-ramped’ item. This, combined with the traction control upgrade and wider front tyres, immediately allowed Nick to set the V10’s fastest time around the GP circuit, cutting a full second off the car’s previous best. Meanwhile the three 120d drivers quietly set about improving the setup and doing everything possible to make sure they were in a good position to complete the following day’s race, as this alone would complete their qualification process.

    Saturday qualifying gave Nick and Jamie their first chance to gauge the new setup’s effect on the Nordscheife lap time for the V10. First, however, in order to prepare for the race, new brake discs needed to be bedded-in and so the first opportunity for this fell to Jamie, driving the second qualifying stint. Jamie duly took his chance and set the team’s first ever subnine- minute lap, qualifying in 51st place with an 8:57! The 120d set a fast time in the Alternative Fuels class, giving the three drivers hope of a competitive fourhour race.


    As the race got under way, Jamie started the first stint not knowing that the V10 was carrying an underlying gearbox problem. Having run with the aggressive upshift issue for the previous few outings, the stress had built up in the components and finally caused a failure on only the third lap of the race. As it was difficult to recover the car during the race, it was not possible to get the car back into a competitive race position and so the V10 was retired early, much to the disappointment and frustration of both drivers given the lap times being set. Meanwhile the 120d drivers were in the middle of a battle for class honours between themselves and both the 3.0-litre diesel Audi A4 and methanol/petrol hybrid Porsche Cayman with which the team had battled during the 24-Hour race in the Saxon 135d.

    With half-an-hour to go, the 120d put up a valiant fight and actually led the class… until drama struck. Ellis found himself pushed from behind by an overtaking GT3 car, the resulting ‘off’ leaving him stranded on a raised curb until rescued by marshals, dropping the car from contention. As a car has to pass the chequered flag to classify as a finisher and drivers have to be classified in order to obtain their 24-Hour licence, what had been a fascinating battle for class honours now became a challenge just to finish the race! Ellis cautiously brought the car back to the pits for any damage to be assessed; there was just enough time to patch up the rear of the car and check for safety issues before returning to the track for one final lap to complete the race. There were sighs of relief all-round. Mission accomplished!

    Further to the three drivers qualifying for their 24-Hour licences – and trusting that the V10 would return from Germany intact – Nick had hoped to forego round nine of the VLN Championship and travel to Holland for the 9 October Dutch Supercar round on the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Nick and regular endurance driver Richard Corbett were keen to debut the 5.8-litre version of the V10 on the famous historic track. As we have previously stated, the V10 engine is restricted to 500hp at the ‘Ring but there are no such limits in Dutch Supercars so it is hoped to run in full 680hp mode for this two race (one 60-minute and one 90 minute) meeting.

    Fortunately, Jon and his team will be able to fit the replacement Drenth gearbox and reprepare the car in time for an anticipated departure for Spa on Thursday 6 October, as Nick had intended.

    The Cotswold Saxon team looks forward to reporting back on their eagerly anticipated visit to this iconic circuit after unleashing the full potential of the #V10 150 #BMW-1-Series and further developments on the Neoraid project.
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    F21 120d M Sport

    It’s been another busy month for the #BMW-1-Series , racking up the miles steadily thanks to a number of shoots and shows I’ve been attending, and it’s given me plenty of time to start getting familiar with the 120d. Did I mention I love the auto throttle blipping on downshifts?

    Because I really do. It makes the car better to drive on every level and, far from taking away from the driving experience, I’d say it enhances it and it’s actually hard to imagine being without it, even after such a short space of time. On a couple of occasions I have also strayed beyond the lower level of the rev range, where I can normally be found for fuel economy purposes, and subsequently discovered that the 120d is surprisingly rapid when you choose to use the revs rather than low-end torque. I feel a little guilty for not enjoying the hot hatch levels of performance more often, but the 120d’s torque-rich motor is a victim of its own success and there’s little reason to really rev it beyond 2500rpm or so in day-to-day driving.

    I’ve not yet had the opportunity to see how well the cargo area copes with a photographer’s demand for space with all their equipment, but I’ve had four 18-inch wheels in the back and my only complaint is the lack of rear doors makes accessing the space available, especially when it comes to removing items, a bit tricky.

    The 120d has also impressed me with its fuel economy, even in these early days when the engine is still tight and not operating at its most economical. It’s currently averaging high 40s, creeping over the 50mpg mark on one trip, which is not at all bad considering the very short daily commute it does with me and considering the more powerful engine. I wonder if, when I swap from run-flats to all-season tyres as I plan on doing soon, fuel economy will take a dip as it seemed to do on the 118d? We’ll have to wait and see.

    Once upon a time, when BMW first made the fateful switch to run-flat tyres, we on #BMW Car would be constantly inundated with letters from readers complaining about the atrocious ride caused by the combination of run-flats and M Sport suspension. In fact, we would actively discourage readers from spec’ing this combo if possible, or point them in the direction of non-run-flat alternatives. Well, the times they are a-changing, and run-flat technology has moved on significantly over the years meaning that M Sport suspension and run-flat rubber is now a much better combination and arguably the best it’s ever been. The ride is, of course, firm as you would expect from a sport suspension setup and while on undulating roads the 120d does have a tendency to exhibit a sort of pogo-ing behaviour, the rest of the time it feels compliant and nicely planted on the road.

    It’s not been a perfect two months, though, as a couple of things have been irritating me. The rain-sensing wipers are as hopeless as they were on the 118d, making it impossible to select a setting that really works, with the wipers either flailing around dementedly when a fine mist descends on the screen, or failing to do anything when it feels like you’re attempting to drive through a lake. My Camaro has what must be about ten different intermittent wiper settings and this makes fine-tuning wiper activity to correspond to rain intensity a breeze. Low tech for the win.


    Another complaint I have is to do with the speed-sensitive volume. On the 118d it was fine, if perhaps not all that effective, but on the 120d it has a habit of being very quiet and then SUDDENLY GETTING MUCH LOUDER when it detects a random bit of road noise and then goes quiet again. But it’s not actually much cop when you want it to get louder, like when your brain is starting to drip out of your ears on the M25’s absolutely ridiculously-surfaced and completely deafening south eastern stretch, for example. Maybe some tweaking of the level will yield better results. Finally, I’ve encountered a strange sort of part-throttle hesitation under acceleration; it occurs when you have to either lift off the throttle pedal and go to press on it again or have been travelling at a constant speed and want to accelerate slightly. What happens is, basically, nothing; it’s like for that fraction of a second, which it surely must be but does feel longer, the throttle pedal is disconnected from the engine and you’re pressing down on it but there’s no response.

    As I say it only lasts for a split second and the solution is to just add more throttle, but it’s slightly disconcerting and it has been happening regularly. I’ll have to wait and see if it gets better and goes away, or gets worse and needs looking at.

    CAR: #BMW-F21 / #BMW-120d-M-Sport / #BMW-F20 / #BMW-120d-M-Sport / #BMW-120d-M-Sport-F21 / #BMW-120d-F21 / #BMW-120d / #BMW-1-Series-F21
    YEAR: #2016
    MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 880
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 1870
    MPG THIS MONTH: 49.8
    COST THIS MONTH: Nil
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    There’s a new arrival in the form of an #BMW F20 120d M Sport, the track car has some further surgery, Mark Williams has been testing a Cadillac on holiday and there’s a round up from the Everett fleet.

    F21 120d M Sport

    So, one month ago I said goodbye to my trusty 118d of three years and said hello to my new 120d M Sport. It was obviously exciting to see the 120d for the first time as it arrived on the back of a trailer and the thrill of getting a new car, be it new or just new to you, never diminishes. First impressions were very good indeed. I’d never owned a white car before and, despite my hand being forced on the colour front, I have no complaints as white really suits the 1 Series, especially in M Sport trim. This, combined with the face-lift styling, really make a big difference in the looks department; while I had grown to love the chubbycheeked and slightly, um, fishy styling of my 118d, the LCI refresh has given the 1 Series a much more modern, dynamic and appealing face and overall look. The narrow headlights, especially in full-LED form as on my car, combined with the angular elements of the M Sport kit make the car look more aggressive and the three-door bodystyle that, once again, I was forced into due to budget constraints, is miles ahead of the frumpy five-door. Not only do you get frameless windows (always sexy) you also get nicely sculpted flanks which give the car a shapely appearance. Twin pipes and smarter rear light clusters finish off a triumphant face-lift. A lot of people at the office and, I wager, in other offices the world over like to chop and change when it comes to company cars so I was slightly worried that opting for the same model would make me feel like I hadn’t changed cars at all. Thankfully, that couldn’t be further from the truth and the interior plays a big part in this, in fact it feels so different to that of the 118d, I sometimes feel I’ve moved up to a different class of car. Being able to afford to tick the M Sport box this time around has arguably made the biggest difference; the steering wheel looks and feels fantastic, the smaller gear knob sits perfectly in the palm (a design so successful it looks identical to that of the E46 Sport models), the silver textured hexagon trim with its blue flashes save the interior from becoming a black abyss and the seats, while no different to those of my 118d in terms of design, look and feel more expensive thanks to their Alcantara side bolsters and thigh support.

    The face-lift has brought with it a number of interior changes, too. For example, climate control has replaced the manual air conditioning I had in the 118d and the fuel economy swingometer has made a welcome return to the bottom of the rev counter and (major geek warning) I noticed that the notches you feel when turning the radio volume knob, which has now gained a power symbol and illustrated volume curve, are softer and smoother than on the 118d’s volume knob. The biggest change is without doubt the addition of sat nav, now standard across the range. While it might only be the Business version, with its small screen, I have yet to find any features that are missing from BMW’s sat navlite that would make it feel inadequate.

    Full postcode search? Yes. Detailed supplementary arrow view? Yup. Weather? That’s a yes. You do have to work hard to get everything set up, though… ‘Crikey,’ I thought to myself whilst driving home in the dark one evening, ‘that display’s a bit bright, best turn it down.’ Of course, the option to change the night time brightness of the display isn’t in any of the sat nav menus, it’s in the control display menu but what is in the sat nav menu is the option to have the night time map display turned on, which gives you a much darker map with less glare. With no right-hand display pane like you’d find on the Professional nav to flip through various additional display options, you have to find the extra options menu, which then lets you add the very useful detailed turn arrows to the map display. You might think that the screen would start getting cluttered at this point but it’s fine; the arrow panel sits on the right and you only need to see the central or bottom central areas of the map, depending on your preferred view, and this area remains unobstructed at all times.

    I know people say that there’s no need for built-in sat nav in cars these days as phone nav is so good, and it is, but it’s still nice to have everything integrated, rather than having a TomTom hanging from your windscreen or your phone strapped to an air vent. It helps that BMW’s HDDbased nav is very good and while I miss being able to simply search for a company or place like I could in Google Maps on my phone and getting directions instantly, the interactive map is great at letting you pinpoint where you want to go when your destination is a little off-piste.

    The rest of the spec on my 120d is equally good and while it’s not what you’d call fully-loaded, it brings a lot more kit to the party then the 118d did. Cruise control was my mostmissed feature, the 118d being the only one of my current three-car stable to not have it, and I’ve already been using it lots in my first month with the 120d. My only complaint with the setup is that when you turn it on, the display between the dials says something like ‘Cruise Control ready’ but that means you can’t see the exact speed you’re setting it to until this message disappears as the digital speed read-out is located on the same display, though you can still use the little green LED that whizzes up the side of the speedo. The work-around is to have it turned on all the time, but then you have to drive around with the red LED showing at a random point on the speedo.

    Parking sensors are a very welcome addition; perhaps you might think that they’d be redundant on a small car like the 1 Series, but it’s not such a small car these days and judging where the back ends, especially when there’s a low object behind you, is actually really difficult. I’d actually say that reversing my 118d was harder than reversing my Camaro, which is massive in comparison but is very low, so you can see what’s behind you, and also has a low level hoop-style spoiler that you can use to judge where the car ends.

    As far as the LED headlights are concerned, the long summer days have meant minimal opportunities to truly appreciate what they are capable of, but first impressions are that they appear to be insanely, almost comically bright and do an incredible job of slicing through the darkness. Another a new feature I love is the auto-blip on downshifts; based on my time spent on Pistonheads, there are plenty of people who hate this function whatever car it may be on, presumably because these people heel and toe all the time everywhere in every single car (school run in the Kia? Heel and toe!), but for the remaining 99.9 per cent of the population it’s an excellent feature. I would try my best to rev match on downshifts when driving the 118d, so the hardest part of driving the 120d initially was remembering that I didn’t need to do that anymore. I have noticed that it doesn’t always work, so I will investigate exactly what parameters are required in order for it to function.

    While the leap from 118d to 120d, and with it a jump for 143hp to 190hp, hasn’t actually felt like a massive increase in performance possibly because, at the time of writing, the 120d hasn’t yet broken the 1000-mile mark and is fresh and tight, the switch to the new #B47D20 engine has brought about a massive increase in refinement. Good as the #N47 that preceded it was, it never sounded like anything other than a diesel and was often very clattery and rough. The #B47 is anything but and, from the inside at least, there is virtually no indication that there’s a diesel lump up front. It’s very quiet, smooth and what little noise it does make is really no worse than what you would experience from one of BMW’s current crop of fourcylinder petrols.


    As far as fuel economy is concerned, the on-paper figures put the 120d only a fraction behind the 118d, so I figured that would mean similar real-world economy too. Obviously it’s very early days and I would expect economy to improve once the 120d has a few more miles beneath its wheels, but from the 47.7mpg that the last tank yielded, I’d say it was off to a pretty good start.


    Incidentally, having covered approximately 12 miles with zero range showing and having squeezed 49-litres of diesel into the tank the next day, the remaining three litres at 47mpg would have given me another 31 miles, which is worth knowing should I find myself playing the fuel light lottery again anytime soon.

    DATA #BMW-F21 / #BMW-120d-M-Sport / #BMW-120d-M-Sport-F21 / #BMW-120d-F21 / #BMW-120d
    YEAR: #2016
    MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 990
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 990
    MPG THIS MONTH: 47.7
    COST THIS MONTH: Nil


    Standard sat nav gets a big thumb’s up as do revised stero controls and the reappearance of the economy ‘Swingometer’ at the bottom of the rev counter.

    Elizabeth is pleased with her new 120d M Sport and has been delving through iDrive menus and pushing all the buttons to find out what’s changed over her old 118d Sport.
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    Mild-mannered 120d transformed into #V8-powered 1M Monster.
    SMASHING! Body shock!

    What started out life as a humble #BMW-120d is now unrecognisable following its transformation into an awesome V8-powered 1M, finished in Java green and with an M DCT gearbox. From mild-mannered 120d to hulking V8-powered 1M, this 1 Series has undergone an incredible transformation and the results are astonishingly spectacular. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Matt Woods.

    Subtle is fine. Subtle works when you just want to get on with stuff discreetly, blending into the background and going unnoticed and unbothered. But sometimes, you need to be unsubtle. Sometimes you need something to wake you up from the dull, grey drudgery of life. Sometimes you need a Java green V8-powered smack in the mouth. That time is now.

    One might argue that Nina Barber’s 1M is subtle; there is, for example, no wild wing, no outrageous wheels, no vents or bulges beyond those which the 1M was created with, and even the exhaust is surprisingly civil. But a 1M finished in shocking green, and it really is very green, with a V8 numberplate is car that wears its heart on its sleeve. And we’re all for that.

    Nina is a woman who grew up in an environment filled with people passionate about cars, so it’s easy to how she’s ended up here, talking to us about her V8 1M. “I started to become passionate about cars in my early 20s,” she says. “My uncle races Porsches, my dad has always been into Lamborghinis and American muscle cars, and my mum has always had BMWs – which is what got me into the marque. She had an E30 when I was born followed by some M models. I remember the first time I drove a BMW, her BMW, I felt at home and knew that’s where I belonged. My first BMW was a 130i, which replaced an MX-5. That was a lot of fun to drive but I wanted more power and speed and after driving my mum’s 130i I knew I had to have one. After the 130i I bought a Z4 M, a car I’d always wanted as whilst I was growing up my mum owned a Roadster. It was very nice but compromised. So I started thinking about what to get next?

    An S54 Z3 M or E46 M3 CSL? Maybe, but prices were so high and you can’t put miles on those cars without harming their value, and while I’ve always loved the E92 M3 I prefer smaller cars…” We think you can see where this is going.

    “I followed Sebastian online. He owned the blue V8 1M that Ashley at Quarry Motors had built and originally owned, and I realised that was the car I wanted. I approached him about buying it and it turned out he was emigrating so it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Unfortunately we didn’t have much time to try and arrange a sale and it fell through but a friend of mine knew the guys at Quarry so approached them on my behalf to see if they’d be willing to build another V8 1M. I travelled up to Sheffield, met Ashley, had a chat and decided on the spot to go ahead with the project.” For this build, Nina was very specific about what she wanted, a fullyloaded car with DCT. The following day, the perfect M3 donor car showed up on Quarry’s doorstep. The planets had aligned…

    The car you see before you started out life as a 120d; the original Quarry car was built from a written-off 118d, but Nina wanted hers to be built from a straight car and it was actually sourcing the right 1 Series to build on that took some time. The entire project was handled by Ashley at Quarry from start to finish, leaving Nina to concentrate on working out the particulars.

    The most stressful part of the whole build was trying to decide on a colour. “I’ve never been so indecisive about anything in my life!” she exclaims. “I must have changed my mind about 20 times. Initially I considered a Lamborghini colour, then a Porsche colour, but then I decided I wanted a BMW colour. For ages I was set on Taiga green but after seeing James’ Java green M4 at a show I instantly knew that was the colour I wanted.

    Taiga is nice but it’s paler and is better suited to a boxy classic car. Java is perfect for a modern shape like the 1 Series and really suits the car.” She’s not wrong, as that intense Java is a full-on smack in the mouth, an eye-widening shot of sheer colour. And in the sunlight it’s even more fantastic, the colour drenching the bodywork and accentuating all of the curves. And there are a lot of those to accentuate on a 1M.

    The colour was the inspiration behind the car’s name, by which it is best known on social media. “I wanted to name it and was talking to Ashley about it when he suggested Bruce, as in Bruce Banner, the Hulk’s alter ego. I love this concept, the dichotomy of character, and it ties in with the green colour, so it was perfect.”

    While Bruce was being constructed, it also gave Nina the opportunity to finalise her pans for the interior: “I had considered different colours like red and tan, but then I wouldn’t have been able to do the green accent stitching that I’ve got now. It really lifts the interior, as without it I was worried it would all be too dark.” B-Trim in north London handled all the interior work and the end result is fantastic, the black being the perfect partner for that vibrant green, both inside and out, and the colour-coded detailing is the perfect finishing touch. The door panels, instrument binnacle, which houses the E9x M3 dials, and steering wheel have all been wrapped in Alcantara and both the heated front seats, plucked straight from the M3, and rear seats have Alcantara accent strips. The gear selector and start button surrounds have been finished in Java green and so too have the extended aluminium gearshift paddles on the steering wheel and even the seatbelts are green, while the carbon trim echoes the carbon elements on the exterior. “I didn’t want a half-done interior,” says Nina. “I decided to go all-out and do it right first time. It was the same with the whole car. It had to be complete out-of-the-box. I didn’t want people to see a half-finished car so I made sure everything was done in one go.”

    Of course it’s the 1M body conversion that really takes centre stage here and you have to appreciate just how much work has gone in to transforming this car from humble 120d to fully-fledged performance monster. “My criteria for the build was that the car had to be executed as if BMW had built it,” Nina explains. “I can’t stand it when people do things by halves. For me it has to be done properly. The rear arches, for example, aren’t welded on; they’re complete new rear quarter sections, which is exactly the way BMW would have built the car and exactly how I wanted it to be built.” Indeed, the quality of Quarry’s work really is exceptional. There is absolutely no way that you’d be able to tell that this car had ever been anything other than a 1M. It really is perfect. The muscular styling is further enhanced by the addition of a BMW M Performance carbon bootlip spoiler and that unmistakable M3 power bulge bonnet. “I knew I had to have the power bulge bonnet,” says Nina. “It changes the whole look of the car for me, so I went for a Seibon carbon one designed specifically for the 1M. It’s fully functional, just like the M3 bonnet would be, so the offside vent is blocked off while the nearside vent connects up to the air box as a secondary cold air feed. The bonnet latches down like the standard one, but the problem is that the carbon is so much more flexible than the steel bonnet. The first time I drove it the bonnet was flexing so much at motorway speeds that I knew immediately I had to add some AeroCatches. Fitting them was tricky as the bonnet is curved and you want them to sit flush rather than sticking up, but they look perfect and really keep the bonnet down. The fitment of the carbon bonnet isn’t perfect, though, and I would love to have a metal one made but it would have to be aluminium. The standard M3 bonnet is steel and I really don’t know why BMW didn’t use a lightweight bonnet; I’ve saved quite bit of weight with the carbon bonnet so I wouldn’t want to go for a steel one, especially as the S65 V8 is just 7kg heavier than the N54 but actually sits lower down and further back in the chassis giving the car better weight distribution.


    “When it came to the wheels I did consider a few different designs but the Style 359 is my favourite BMW wheel, so that’s what I went with. I think this style of wheel looks fantastic on a modern car and really finishes it off, so the wheels are definitely staying for now,” she says. “I might change the colour as I’m not sure about the black but it does look good against the green and ties in nicely with the black accents on the body. I’ve currently got the standard size tyres, 245/35 and 265/35 Toyo R888s, but I’d like to go to a 265/295 front/rear setup as they’ll really fill the arches out and I don’t want to use spacers to achieve that.”

    If you own a V8 it’s pretty much the law that you have to fit a performance exhaust because it’s an engine that never sounds anything less than fantastic. And Nina’s 1M definitely doesn’t disappoint on the aural stimulation front. “I didn’t want to go all-out with an off-the-shelf exhaust as I’d like a custom system at some point, but I still wanted something that sounded good,” says Nina. “At the moment it’s running a Milltek 1M rear silencer, which has been designed for a turbocharged engine rather than a naturally aspirated V8, along with some M3 sections and a bit of custom pipework to connect it all together. I did have it fully de-catted at one point and I loved how obnoxiously loud it was, but it absolutely stank of fuel and after every drive the exhaust tips were black. I got fed up with it and had the cats put back in; while it’s definitely quieter the tone is nicer now and I prefer the way it sounds. I would still like a full system at some point but I’m content for the time being.” It does sound absolutely fantastic, with a boisterous cold idle that is guaranteed to slap a grin on your face, but delivers a surprisingly civilised soundtrack once it’s warmed-up. Of course, at full chat it delivers exactly the sort of spine-tingling, high-revving V8 howl that you want, overlaid with numerous pops and crackles. It’s Mozart for the motorhead.

    Even now, nine years on since its debut in the E9x M3, the S65 V8 is still an absolute masterpiece of an engine. “I love the power delivery,” grins Nina as we indulge in a long chat about V8s. “It really does pull like a train. I love the way the power delivery is so linear and the way the power just keeps on coming once you’re at the top end of the rev range. Mine is very healthy. I’ve heard that a lot of M3s don’t even make 400hp on the dyno but mine made 426hp without the cats, so it’s probably around the 420 mark now.

    As far as the gearbox is concerned, I’ve always been a manual enthusiast but I decided to drive both a manual and DCT M3 to see what the engine and gearbox combination felt like and I have to say that the manual car did nothing for me. The way the engine delivers its power means that the DCT ’box just feels so much better suited to it. I’m so glad I went for the DCT, I absolutely love the gearbox and the combination with the S65 is just perfect.”

    To you or us the car might look as complete as can be but for Nina this is only the beginning of her 1M adventure. “It was a year long journey to get to the car built,” she says, “and I finished in January of this year.

    However, for the last six months I’ve been refining and tweaking it and there’s still lots more I want to do. I’m planning to add a carbon race diffuser and front lip as well as a carbon roof, which I feel the factory 1M should have come with, like the M3. The suspension isn’t finished at the moment; it’s currently on M3 EDC shocks with Eibach springs. I like how it sits but I would like coilovers at some stage. I’m not sure what to go for, though, and I don’t want to just buy something that might not be right for it. I’m going to spend the coming months, the whole year even, learning the car, educating myself on what it wants before buying anything so I know I’ll be fitting the right parts when the time comes. I also love motorsport and while the car has started its journey like this it will evolve as time goes on, so I might well strip it and put a cage in it at some point. I’ll probably add a wing then as well. I would also really like to supercharge it at some point but at the same time I want to refine it first, make it the best it can be in its current form before I start doing any power upgrades. I do love the fact that the car will continue to evolve. That keeps me enthusiastic about it and ensures it doesn’t get stale.”


    Which brings us neatly to the question of how long Nina thinks this relationship will last, though we feel bad asking the question seeing as the car’s such a recent build. “At the moment it really does feel like it’s a forever car,” she says. “I have so much time, effort, and emotion invested in it that I can’t ever imagine selling it. I don’t even want to think about that. From the moment the car was finished people started getting in touch asking if I would sell it. I’ve had so many people asking me about buying it that I’ve lost count. Initially I was a bit offended; I couldn’t believe that people would think I’d want to sell a car I’d just finished.”

    While there might be lots more to come, there’s plenty to enjoy right now and that’s exactly what this car was built for. “This car was all about doing something purely for my own enjoyment. I didn’t want to worry about mileage, money or depreciation, I just wanted to build a car that I could go and enjoy driving. And that’s exactly what I’ve got. I do drive it based on the weather as I don’t want to take it out in the rain. So it’s a fair weather weekend toy for me and as it’s just been finished I am precious over it. I hate getting stone chips on it, though the whole front end has been covered in Suntek paint protection film so it’s not too bad. I guess it’s just inevitable. I have lots of plans, too. I want to take it to Europe. I’m currently looking for places to go and enjoy driving it,” grins Nina. That’s really what it’s all about. You don’t build a car like this to only hide it away or simply park it up at shows for other people to enjoy. You build it to enjoy driving it and there are few machines out there capable of delivering greater driving pleasure than a V8 1M.


    DATA FILE #V8 #BMW-1M / #BMW / #BMW-E82 / #BMW-1-Series-E82 / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1M-E82 / #BMW-E82-S65B40 / #BMW-1M-S65B40 / #S65 / #BMW-S65 / #BMW-E82-V8 / #BMW-Style-359-Competition / #BMW-1M-M-DCT / #BMW-120d-E82 /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre V8 #S65B40 from E92 M3, 1M #Milltek back box, part custom and part OEM M3 exhaust system, seven-speed #M-DCT gearbox from E92 M3

    CHASSIS 9x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear) #BMW-Style-359 Competition alloys with 245/35 (front) and 265/35 (rear) Toyo R888 tyres, E92 M3 brakes with Java green calipers (front and rear), E92 M3 EDC with #Eibach springs

    EXTERIOR Full OEM 1M conversion, full bare shell respray in Individual Java green metallic, gloss black trim, Seibon carbon fibre bonnet with AeroCatches, BMW M Performance carbon fibre bootlip spoiler, Blackline rear lights, Suntek paint protection film

    INTERIOR Full retrim consisting of extended black Nappa leather with green stitching and Alcantara accents, Alcantara gear selector, handbrake gaiters and door cards, steering wheel retrimmed in Alcantara with Motorsport stiching and green 12 o’clock centre stripe, extended aluminium paddles in Java green metallic with illuminated plus and minus signs, Java green start button bezel, #Java-green #DCT gear selector surround, heated E92 M3 front seats, BMW Performance carbon fibre trim, #BMW-Individual audio with #Harman-Kardon speakers

    THANKS A massive thank you to Quarry Motors, especially Ashley and Lee for agreeing to take on this project with me. Ashley is responsible for building me a spectacular, unique car that has been executed as if #BMW itself built it. Sam for initially sowing the seed and getting the ball rolling. To my biggest support, I must extend huge gratitude to Nick who has been my anchor throughout this journey. My mum who gracefully endured my countless indecisions. To all my great friends who have offered their support and advice, I thank you; Silas ‘Mr B’, Vaughan the Prawn, Richard and Sebastian with Bruce’s twin ‘the blue car’, Steven ‘Horney’, Paul ‘Mumbers’, Kos, Mason, Marsel and the rest of my big BMW family. B-Trim, Elite Car Care, Evolve Automotive, Mox3d, Mumbray Motorsport, Munich Evolution, Munich Legends, Olgun Kordal – The Car Photographer, Pukar Designs, Royal Steering Wheels, Secure My Car and SMV Repairs, Taylor Made Decals

    Java green is stunning and really suits the perfectlyexecuted 1M conversion, while the glorious #S65-V8 is the icing on the cake.

    “I love the power delivery. It really does pull like a train. I love the way it is so linear and the power just keeps on coming”
    “My criteria for the build was that the car had to be executed as if BMW had built it”
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    Night and Day #BMW-120d / #BMW-120d-E87 / #BMW-E87

    We follow one race team’s gruelling efforts at the Dubai 24-hour race with its 120d endurance car. Night And Day During the #Dubai 24-hour race things can go from very good to very bad in a flash. We follow Team SVDP’s 120d and experience these ups and downs firsthand… Words and pics: Steve Hall / #BMW

    Twenty-four hours sounds like a long time for a motor race, doesn’t it? Long enough, you’d think, to be able to sneak a quick bit of shut-eye in the dead of night when (hopefully) you won’t miss any of the action. I certainly thought so. Given that this particular race takes place in January, I’m happy it’s in Dubai where the temperature dips to a merely cool 18 degrees Celsius during race night and after a solid 18 hours awake 3.30am seemed like as good a time as any to sneak an hour of sleep. Waking up at 4.30am to find ‘our’ car in the garage, engine halfway out after oil starvation caused it to seize punching an impressive hole in the side of the block in the process was not in the plan, though…

    We’re here to follow Team SVDP Racing as it competes in its third Dubai 24 hours, aiming to repeat the previous year’s class-winning performance. Its choice of an E87 120d puts it in class D1 (Diesel Touring Cars up to 2000cc) and gives us a reason to make the trip out to Dubai. Nothing to do with the January sunshine, honest…

    If you want an illustration of the toughness of endurance racing, look no further than the highly coordinated but frantic work rate of the Team SVDP mechanics as they disgorge the broken engine from the 120d, methodically separating the umpteen umbilical connections and slotting in the new engine in probably ten per cent of the time BMW would quote. Right about now they were expecting to take a nap whilst the car churned out solid class-leading times. And it’s certainly not through lack of preparation or experience. This is the 120d’s fourth year at the race, the third with SVDP Racing, and after its 2013 victory it’s fair to describe it as a pretty slick operation. Preparation starts in Holland, where Wubbe Motorsport (Wubbe Herlaar is also one of the drivers) and VVT Tuning get the car as close as possible to race ready before it’s packed into a container, which Dubai customs inspect on Monday. Meanwhile, the Dubai-based team members setup the pit perch and garage ready for the week ahead. Friday is race day.


    Thanks to the thoroughly pre-planned schedule, Tuesday is a relatively relaxed affair set aside for small tasks like installing the car radio and LED light bars (necessary for the notoriously dark Dubai circuit), which after double-checking still left the team ahead of the curve and early to bed – a good idea with what’s to come. Wednesday is much busier, with the car taking to the track for the first time during free practice. Usually, this session would be skipped – no need to take life out of the car unduly – but with a new braking system and extra performance to get used to, the opportunity for the drivers to get a feel for the car was not to be missed. With a new data logging system on the car, it was a chance to study sectors and see where gains could be made and with most of the drivers taking nearly eight seconds out of the previous year’s times, the team was feeling positive about the race ahead. Qualification takes place on Thursday, and events now snap into sharp focus. Despite everything being prepared to the last detail, from paperwork, driving stints, pit stops and team meetings to strategy and lap times, the pressure is beginning to rise and it’s palpable in the pits. The 120d goes out and qualifies a cool, calculated, second in class. The qualifying lap time is ultimately six seconds behind the fastest race lap but strategically putting the car at the back of the grid (sixth from last on a grid of 87 starters) keeps the 120d out of trouble whilst the field shakes itself out in the early part of the race. With the minimum lap requirement fulfilled and a problem-free car in the pits ready for race day, it’s a good day’s work. Just 14 hours from now, the lights will go green at the Dubai Autodrome.

    Friday arrives, and with the weather forecast to remain dry throughout the race (rain often hits the Gulf this time of year and can cause havoc in the pits) things start gearing up for the 2pm start. Every element of pre-race preparation has gone to plan and with the true pace of the car ready to be revealed during the race, there’s a positive mood in the camp as we bag jovial team photos on the grid. The rolling race start instantly transforms the circuit as the 87 strong field cross the line together at race pace for the first time. The noise will remain for the next 24 hours. Team SVDP’s 120d completes an uneventful first hour a solid third in class, with another 120d in first, a Golf TDI second, a Leon TDI fourth and a lap down on us, and the final 120d of Cor Euser fifth, two laps behind. We drop to fifth briefly before climbing back up to third position by the 12-hour mark, still only two laps off the now front running Golf TDI and a lap behind the 120d of Recy Racing. With Wubbe Herlaar behind the wheel we have, however, bagged the fastest lap in class, and by hour 13 it would tell on the timing boards. 309 laps completed and we’re in first position.

    Slowly but surely we’re gapping the cars behind as the race hits the 15-hour mark with a healthy six laps separating us from the Recy Racing 120d behind. Everything is going perfectly with the setup making the car fast but light on its tyres. We’ve spent just 38 minutes in the pits, nearly half an hour less than the second placed 120d. And then it happens…

    Just before 4am the engine suddenly tightens up out the back of the circuit, before catastrophic failure announces itself with a bang. Luck has played a harsh card, as a simple seal in the uprated turbo has failed allowing oil to slowly burn away without a trace. Inevitably the oil level drops too low and combined with the high-G cornering and intense load, there was only going to be one outcome. Cue one very broken engine. It’s testament to the inherent robustness of the M47 that the race engine is almost identical to that you’d find motivating a road-going 120d. The only modifications are a remodelled sump to allow fitment of an oil cooler and a larger turbo – not for added power (roughly 300hp/370lb ft) but because pushing the standard turbo this hard would generate excessive intake charge temperatures. Using a bigger turbo lowers temperatures for the same output. The OEM ECU is tweaked to suit. The compact rear-wheel drive 1 Series lends itself well, and stripped to the bare essentials with wide track bodywork shrouding the custom suspension it makes a great package for the D1 class.

    By the 17-hour mark the car is still being repaired. We’re fifth (and last) in class, 41 laps down on the leader. The pit time still shows 38 minutes because we haven’t left yet and triggered the transponder since being recovered over two hours prior.



    With the car finally fixed the 18-hour mark sees us back out on track, 52 laps off the lead and with 3 hours, 16 minutes recorded in the pits – nearly two hours more than the leader. Endurance races are won and lost in the pits, and without our mishap we’d probably be sitting on a ten-lap class lead. Such is life. The remainder of the race passes without incident, the car posting a fastest lap within 0.4secs of its previous best, testament to the work of the team who finally get a chance for some sleep. In the context of what went wrong, gaining a place to grab fourth position feels like a little victory of its own.

    Spencer Vanderpal and Chris Wishart had talked about 24-hour racing many times. With lots of sprint racing experience to their name, they finally took the plunge and bought the 120d as a race ready car in 2010. But it wasn’t until 2011 when Team SVDP was formed and the remaining drivers (Jason O’Keefe and Kris Budnik) became owners that they were able to develop the car to where it is now. Starting out as a (by their own admission) distinctly amateur team, they now class themselves as pro-am, and it shows in the meticulous planning and preparation past experience has taught. This year’s Dubai 24-hour race may have been tinged with disappointment but with the Zandvoort 12-hour and Barcelona 24-hour marked in the calendar there’s plenty opportunity to put that right.
    ‏ — at Dubai - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
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