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    4.6 V8 1 SERIES Totally transformed 135i

    SLAKE THE INTERNET

    What started out life as an unassuming 135i is now a fire-breathing, 1M-kitted, 4.6 #V8-powered beast.

    It’s an inescapable fact of modern modifying that if your car becomes known online, everyone will have an opinion on it. But this is a good thing – use the love as inspiration, use the hate as fuel, and keep pushing forward… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Courtney Cutchen.

    “People have very interesting reactions to my car, it sparks a lot of discussion,” says Marco Svizzero, the chap standing proudly beside this rather perky little 1 Series. “It’s an entirely modified bastard, and yet it still seems to appeal to the purists…”

    This is a pretty punchy way to set out your stall – after all, that quasi-mythical entity of ‘the purists’ is a notoriously hard bunch to please (although goodness knows why you’d want to try), so to shoo away the perennial spectre of internet hate by appealing to the very people you expect to annoy is something of a fortuitous crapshoot.

    Still, objectively – at least, objectively from a PBMW point of view – there’s nothing not to love about this car, given that it’s effectively an M3 stuffed inside a #BMW-1M-Coupé-E82 to create the ballistic #V8-1-Series that BMW didn’t think to experiment with. That’s a great way to get into our good books. “This was really my first big car build, and I never intended for the project to go so far,” Marco ponders with the measured consideration of somebody who’s been on a lengthy adventure and is struggling to come to terms with the notion of being home again. “It just snowballed, and once the project got some traction on the forums and partners like Revozport and Performance Technic got involved, it all went to another level.”

    This, of course, is the price of notoriety. Once news of your project starts to spread, and the myriad chattering keyboards of the internet start to throw a few opinions around, there really is only one way forward: go big. The ‘go home’ alternative just isn’t an option at this point; the world is watching, you’ve committed to something, you have to see it through. Your audience insists. You’ve got new fans now, they need to be appeased. And the haters? Oh, there’ll always be haters. They need to be figuratively smacked down with the iron fist of decisive action.

    “I chose a 135i as the base for my project as I really like the size of it,” Marco explains, “and I love how tunable the N54 engines are. It’s so easy to get reliable horsepower out of those motors with simple modifications.”

    You’ll have spotted, however, that the N54 straight-six is no longer in residence. That’s sort of the point of this car now. So what gives, why did Marco change his mind? “Well, as I was taking the car on track more and more, I started to run into heat issues,” he says, “so I decided to swap a V8 motor and M3 chassis into the car.”

    Okay. We’ll just let that sink in for a moment, shall we? It really is a masterstroke of lateral thinking, taking such a decision and following it through, and he’s earned the right to be charmingly self-effacing about it. Most people in this situation would have thought along the lines of ‘alright, we have some cooling issues, let’s look into revising the coolant system, maybe upgrade the radiator and intercooler and open up some more vents,’ but not Marco. Oh no. One suspects that he wanted to shoehorn an M3 inside his #BMW-135i-Coupe all along.

    “I wanted the instant throttle response of a naturally aspirated engine, as well as robust cooling and an 8600rpm redline,” he says matter-of-factly. Well, yeah, swapping in an E9x M3 under the skin is the obvious solution, isn’t it? It was foolish of us to even question it. Carry on, Marco…


    “The swap is so much more than just the motor,” he elaborates, as if trying to justify it to an irate spouse or suspicious bank manager. “It’s the M3 steering, the complete front and rear subframes including the suspension and axles, the diff, the brakes, and cool features like M Dynamic Mode.”

    And there, as the Bard might say, is the rub. If you were skimming through a forum post and looking at photos of Marco’s car, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the story here centred around a non-M 1 Series that had been converted to 1M aesthetics. And to a degree, you’d be right, as that is what has happened – what started as a stock 2008 135i bought from Craigslist soon ballooned into a broad and angry 1M clone, its strong look accentuated by the exemplary body addenda on sale from Revozport, its Raze series offering a lightweight bonnet, bootlid, carbon fibre roof (which neatly deletes the 135i’s sunroof), splitter, diffuser and GTS wing. But the body, as we know, is only half the story.


    The fun of building something like this, particularly something that’s so keenly observed online, is that there will always be ill-informed haters to bait. ‘It’s not a proper #BMW-1M ,’ they’ll say. ‘Why spend all that money on making a fake 1M when you could just buy a real one? Why pretend, why lie?’


    Marco takes all of this in his stride, with a wry smile and an eye perennially on the next phase of development. “No, it’s not a 1M, and it will never be one,” he says. “The only way to get a real one is to buy one. My car will not bear an M badge on the trunk!


    Besides, by crunching numbers for a partout and sale of my car and using those funds toward purchasing a 1M, I would have to add a lot of money on top for a very similar car.” But forget mathematics, that’s not why we build project cars. A car is just a big hole to throw money into, we don’t modify them because it’s sensible. No, the unspoken truth here is that Marco’s car isn’t a 1M because, well, it’s an M3. It just looks like a 1M…

    “When we started looking into donor M3s, they were still expensive here in the States so I actually ended up buying a car in the UK, which was dismantled and sent to me in pieces,” Marco recalls. “Once everything was sent over, Performance Technic began the build. The most difficult part was the wiring; Performance Technic has two BMW Master Techs – Matt Medeiros and Wing Phung – who tackled the project, and once the car was built we brought it to Mike Benvo of BPM Sport. Benvo cleaned up, coded and tuned the car – he is another very valuable partner in the entire project. His knowledge in coding is unmatched! These guys were extremely focused on making everything look and operate like a factory car, and I applaud them that they pulled it off.”


    As well as being OEM-quality in terms of all the buttons and gizmos, and thus eminently streetable, Marco was certainly having a lot of fun with his transformed 135i, with its 4.0-litre S65 under the bonnet and M3 underpinnings. Let’s not forget that this V8 isn’t a lazy rumbler like those of his domestic heritage; while Detroit thuds, Bavaria howls, and this engine is a proper screamer. “It really was just like a smaller, lighter E9x M3 – the naturally aspirated 1M I wanted to make all along,” Marco grins.

    Wait… “was”? “Yeah, I decided to go a bit over-the-top,” he laughs. “The S65 only weighs 15lb more than the N54 so the factory balance was still spot-on, but after a little while I swapped the motor out for a Dinan 4.6-litre stroker motor.” Well, you know what they say about how power corrupts. And absolute power corrupts absolutely. Marco seems to be pretty happy about that.


    “It really is my perfect BMW and I couldn’t be happier,” he beams. “I enjoy the car at the track, taking it to the major BMW West Coast events, rallies, and simply staring at it in my garage! It’s a car that when people see it at events, they stop and look at it – often for a long period of time. Even with the old-skool purists; I’ve received a lot of compliments from the older, more traditional BMW crowd.” This makes sense really, as it is a pure BMW at heart: a focused driver’s machine, and with nearenough undiluted factory DNA under the skin. It just happens to be suffering a smidge of body dysmorphia, that’s all.


    Again, this can be the price of notoriety. Marco’s car has always enjoyed the internet spotlight, from its early PR tie-in with Revozport to those fledgling days on the show scene before the hungry swarm of smartphone lenses, to Performance Technic’s high-profile endeavours to make the first V8-powered E82 in the USA. Then there was its triumphant Bimmerfest showcase on the Toyo stand, the countless online profiles, the numerous show awards, the online video reviews espousing its virtues as ‘the best BMW you could possibly build at any price’, the Time Attack entries, the world-first stroked S65 conversion… this car lives in a fishbowl, its every move observed and analysed. And every barbed comment that curveballs toward it gets knocked out of the park.

    We’ll leave the final thought to Performance Technic founder Joey Gaffey: “This car is a project that we all kinda fell in love with. It’s a project we thought was probably something the engineers at BMW Motorsport thought of themselves…” And that, in essence, is the thinking behind Marco’s original idea for the madcap swap, and also why the purists love this impure creation. It’s a car that #BMW should have built. Thanks to the ingenuity of these fellas, it now actually exists, albeit as a one-off. The internet demanded results, and it got ’em. What a time to be alive.

    I enjoy the car at the track, taking it to events and simply staring at it in my garage!


    DATA FILE 4.6 #V8 #BMW-135i / #BMW-135i-E82 / #BMW-E82 / #BMW-135i-V8-E82 / #BMW-135i-V8 / #BMW-135i-S65 / #BMW-135i-Dinan / #BMW-135i-Dinan-S65 / #BMW-135i-Dinan-S65-E82 / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1-Series-E82 / #BMW-E82-Dinan / #BMW / #CAE-Ultra / #VAC-Motorsports /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION Dinan 4.6-litre stroker #S65 / #BMW-S65 / #S65B46 #V8 / #S65-Dinan / , #BPM-Sport custom tune with 8600rpm redline, #iND custom plenum, Dinan intake, Dinan pulley, VAC-Motorsports baffled sump, #Black-Forest engine mounts, #Akrapovic axle-back exhaust, custom X pipe, #Braille 21lb battery, CAE Ultra shifter, OEM M3 differential

    CHASSIS 10x18” (front) and 10.5x18” (rear) ET25 HRE 43 wheels with 265/35 (front) and 275/35 (rear) Toyo R888 tyres, M3 front and rear subframes including suspension and axles, #PSi-Öhlins Raceline coilovers, #Racing-Dynamics anti-roll bars, #Dinan-Monoball kit for front control arms, #Bimmerworld rear wishbones, Dinan adjustable toe arms, Turner MS transmission bushings, #Turner-MS aluminium subframe and diff bushings, Dinan carbon fibre strut braces, #Stoptech-Trophy-BBK with 380mm (front) and 355mm (rear) discs, OEM GT4 brake ducts

    EXTERIOR Full 1M body conversion, Revozport 1M Raze bonnet, boot and lip, carbon fibre roof, splitter with APR splitter supports, diffuser and GTS wing, Macht Schnell tow straps


    INTERIOR #BMW-Performance V1 steering wheel, gaiters and carbon fibre trim, #BMW-1M-E82 armrest delete, #Recaro-Profi-SPA seats, #Revozport #BMW-1M Raze doorcards with Alcantara inserts, P3 vent gauge, OEM 1M Anthracite headlining and pillars (for sunroof delete), #TC-Design harness bar, #Schroth six-point harnesses, #VAC hardware and floor mounts, Alumalite rear close-off panel


    THANKS Joey Gaffey, Matt Medeiros, Wing Phung and the rest of the team at #Performance-Technic , Charles Wan at Revozport, Mike Benvo at BPM Sport, Stan Chen at ToyoTires, Jason Overell at Targa Trophy, DTM Autobody and Sam at AutoTalent
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    ONE LAST TIME

    If you’re looking to build one last project a #Yas-Marina blue, air-ride #BMW-135i-Coupe sporting 1M styling, carbon and pulled arches is certainly one way to go out with a bang… Mark Stewart wanted to do one last big build and with this 135i, we’d say it was mission accomplished. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Steve McCann.


    It may lack the sheer in-your-face impact of the 1M or the more heavily M-administered focus of its next generation counterpart but the 135i remains an awesome performance machine. It’s fast, surprisingly practical and economical when driven with care and an absolute riot. It’s perfectly-sized, nimble and hard to beat for sheer grin-inducing driving pleasure. We have fond memories of our first time behind the wheel of a 135i and we came away massively impressed. It may have been superseded by the M135i and M235i, which is arguably more of a direct replacement, but the 135i still has the potential to impress and surprise owners of more exotic machinery. Out-of-the-box it is certainly no slouch, thanks to 306hp and 295lb ft of torque from the early twin-turbo N54, but it’s the tuning potential of that engine that makes the 135i such a deadly weapon out on the roads. With minimum effort you can be knocking on the door of 400hp, and that will never leave you wanting.


    As a base from which to build a performance project, then, the 135i is the perfect choice and that’s what attracted Mark Stewart to what would become his 135i. “As this was going to be my last big build I wanted to build the ultimate 1 Series,” says the car painter from Northern Ireland. “The car was built to make heads turn but not to be all show and no go, which is what made the 3.0 twin-turbo 135i a must. Everything had to be right, from the colour to interior.” And looking at the car, it’s fair to say that Mark has got everything spot-on. In just three short weeks, with the help of friends, he transformed a standard 135i into the machine you see before you now, which is amazing considering just how much work has been poured into the car. If there’s an area in which the standard 135i is lacking, it’s on the visual front. Despite that pouty front bumper, it’s a pretty discreet car with no wild arches or lairy styling. While that’s all well and good if you want to make rapid progress across the highways and byways without attracting unwanted attention, it’s obviously no good if you actually want to attract attention.



    So the first step was to beef up that body. And this 1 Series has undergone a heck of a lot of work on the styling front. Up front, there’s that 1M bumper, spilling over with cartoonish aggression and intakes – the perfect choice for giving the front end some more clout. Matched with it are a pair of 1M front wings, themselves chosen to accommodate the wheels, which Mark had his heart set on from the start. The wheels were only available in a seriously low offset, though, and although most of us in such a situation would sigh and choose something else that would fit straight on, that’s clearly not Mark’s style. The wheels in question are 9.5x18” #Cosmis-Racing XT- 206Rs, a sexy single-piece wheel finished in black with a polished lips – very nice indeed. In Mark’s chosen width the only offset available was +10, far too low for the standard width 1 Series arches to accommodate. There was another problem, too. The #XT-206R is only available in a 5x114.3 or 5x100 fitment, neither of which is any good for a #BMW . Normally, you can get around this by chucking a set of adapters on but as they’re essentially spacers and the offset here was so low already, that wasn’t possible. The solution?

    Mark had the wheels redrilled to the correct 5x120 PCD so they could fit straight on. A lot of effort but it was worth it as the twin six-spoke design really suits the chunky 1 Series shape. And with the 1M bodywork, the fitment really is on point. Of course, with fat 1M front arches, the rear was now looking rather anaemic so something clearly needed to be done. Mark’s solution was to have them pulled and flared, which has made a massive difference and the rear quarters now mirror the front to perfection, with the wheels filling all four arches and sitting flush as you like.

    Beyond the front bumper and beefed-up arches there’s plenty more to admire here, like the E9x M3-style carbon bonnet – which is just one of many carbon additions that adorn this 135i. There are also carbon kidney grilles, carbon bumper intakes, carbon 1M indicators, mirrors, aerial and, at the rear, a seriously aggressive carbon diffuser. It’s the perfect accompaniment for the #AC-Schnitzer-exhaust and custom side skirts complete with blades. It’s a very thorough cosmetic reworking that has totally transformed the rather unassuming 1 Series Coupé into a serious head-turner.

    But there was one final piece of the puzzle missing: a killer colour that would burn people’s eyeballs! “The colour was chosen to keep with a BMW colour but one never done on a 1 Series,” explains Mark. The chosen colour is Yas Marina blue from the M3 and M4. It’s certainly not something you’re going to see a lot of, certainly not on the 1 Series. It’s an awesome colour, striking for being so different, a sort of metallic pastel blue that never looks anything less than ultra-bold and bright. We think it’s the perfect choice to contrast with the black and carbon details about the exterior.

    So with styling, wheels and paint sorted, it was time to take care of the suspension. With a build of this calibre there was only one direction that Mark could head in, and that involved air. “ #Air-ride was a must to get the stance right,” he says. And you can’t argue with the results. Mark turned to #AirREX for the suspension kit itself, adding #Air-Lift-V2 management, with the controller custom-mounted in the dash where the driver’s side central air vent would normally be and one seriously slick boot build. Twin #Viair-380 compressors sit beneath a clear panel in the black carpeted boot floor while the single air tank has been carbonwrapped, mounted in a carpeted panel and the ends have been painted Maserati yellow to match the full roll-cage. Yes, there’s a full roll-cage, we’ll get to that in a moment.

    Aired-out, the car sits so low that the front bumper and side blades are mere millimetres off the ground, while the arches perch majestically on the wheels’ lips. It really is a thing of beauty to behold.

    Mark did promise a big build and, heading indoors, he’s certainly not scrimped on the interior side of things either. The first thing you’ll notice, because it’s impossible to miss, is the aforementioned Maserati yellow Dodger roll-cage that curves around the shape of the dash and then soars overhead, disappearing into the now seat-less rear to connect up to the chassis behind the carpeted panel. A matching carpeted custom A-pillar pod houses boost and AFR gauges, the dash trims have all been colour-coded, and a pair of sexy Recaro CS seats have been installed in place of the standard items.


    The two gauges are not merely frivolous additions as there’s been a bit of tinkering beneath the bonnet in order to get the N54 performing to its full potential. As we mentioned earlier, this engine is extremely eager to give you more power and the addition of a dual Injen induction kit, de-cat and live remap by Autotune has resulted in power leaping to 386hp with 400lb ft – more than enough for anybody and certainly the sort of go Mark was after when starting out with this project. BMW Performance six-pot front brakes with Mintex fast road pads provide ample stopping power.

    This is an exceptionally nice car and arguably one of the best-looking 1 Series’ we’ve come across. Mark promised himself one last big build and in our eyes he’s definitely delivered, this 135i being a suitably big statement to go out on. And, if you’re wondering what on earth there could possibly be left to do, the answer is nothing! This was exactly the car Mark wanted to build. In less time than it takes most of us to get around to buying a car, he took a car from standard to show standard – quite a feat where modified cars are concerned. The 135i has now been sold, a Porsche 911 taking its place, and while Mark may have moved on we can’t imagine he’ll ever forget his magnificent 1 Series.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E82 / #BMW-135i / #BMW-135i-E82 / #BMW /

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six twin-turbo #N54B30 / #N54 , Injen induction kit, de-cat, #AC-Schnitzer exhaust, live map by #Autotune , 386hp and 400lb ft of torque, six-speed manual gearbox.

    CHASSIS 18x9.5” #ET10 (front and rear) Cosmis Racing XT- 206R wheels custom drilled to 5x120 with 215/35 (front and rear) tyres, #AirREX struts with #Air-Lift V2 management, #BMW-Performance six-pot #BBK (front), #Mintex fast road pads.

    EXTERIOR Full respray in Yas Marina blue, 1M front wings, 1M front bumper, carbon E9x M3-style bonnet, kidney grilles, bumper intakes, 1M indicators and mirrors, custom canards, custom side skirts, side skirt blades, carbon boot spoiler, aerial, rear diffuser, rear arches pulled and flared.

    INTERIOR #Recaro CS seats, full colour-coded dash, #Dodger rollcage painted Maserati yellow, custom pillar mount for boost and #AFR gauges, air-ride controller custom mounted in air vent, 2x Viair 380 compressors, carbon-wrapped air tank with Maserati yellow ends.

    THANKS PPG/Nexa Autocolor for paint, Stephen at SC Cages and the Paintworx team (07540 168355).

    Air-ride was the only option when it came to the suspension to achieve the perfect stance; air-ride controller has been custom-mounted in the dash.

    Carbon galore on the outside with bonnet, grilles, indicators and diffuser just a few of the items now finished in the black weave.

    Engine has been treated to an Injen induction kit, a live map, a de-cat, and an #ACS exhaust resulting in 386hp and 400lb ft of torque. Interior dominated by Maserati yellow roll-cage.
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