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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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    RACING BULL

    Taking its inspiration from DTM, this Red Bull-liveried custom wide-body E92 M3 is no shrinking violet. Bryan McGhee has taken inspiration from the world of #DTM to create a unique and imposing E92 M3. And it’s very far from an off-the-shelf build… Words: Daniel Bevis /// Photos: André Neudert

    Red Bull is one of those brands whose name implies impeccable quality when it’s plastered along the side of a race car. Your brain happily suspends the knowledge that the product in question is a cloyingly saccharine fizzy drink, as there are so many other high-octane associations that are pushed to front-of-mind when you see that iconic dark blue canvas, liberally sprinkled with yellow suns and, er, red bulls. The livery has slipped seamlessly into the pantheon of all-time classics – not quite up there with Gulf, Martini or JPS, but on the way. Think about it: countless F1 championship wins, NASCAR , Dakar, that astounding Peugeot 207 that decimated the Pikes Peak record – Red Bull and fast cars go hand-in-hand.

    An appropriate stylistic choice for an E92 M3 then, no? Even in stock form, we know that this #V8-powered looper is a formidable beast, with its vast reserves of horsepower and general disregard for the commonly accepted laws of physics. Of course, we also know that applying race car livery to a standard car, no matter how pacey it may be, is a questionable thing to do. Look how many ST205 Celicas there are out there covered in Castrol rally stickers, and Volvo 850 estates with #BTCC colours. You’ve got to actually do something to the car first or you might look like a wally. Thankfully Bryan McGhee, owner of this M3 has nailed that element head-on; rather than relying on off the- shelf parts, his E92 offers an intriguing platter of bespoke and custom touches. And as an ex-military man, you can be sure that it’s been finished with militaristic precision…

    “Every car I’ve owned has been modified,” he explains. “This comes from my upbringing in South Central Los Angeles, and the influence of my family members who were into motorsports.” Bryan’s first car was a 1964 Chevrolet Impala, which is a pretty gangsta way to get your training wheels off, and he’s since enjoyed three Mustangs, a 1976 BMW 2002, and a mighty V10-engined Dodge Ram SRT-10 (which he sold to buy this 2010 E92). “I’ve always respected the BMW brand,” he says, “ever since I bought my 2002 back in the mid- Eighties, when I was stationed in Hawaii with the US Army. I’d say that owning a BMW is more than just owning a car – you’re buying into a piece of auto engineering history. And now that I own an M3, there’s a piece of that history that I can share with my son, who’s a motorhead just like his pop!”


    Now based in Germany, the retired sergeant major is closer to his favourite automotive brand’s spiritual home than he was in Hawaii or LA, the winding lanes of Vorbach nestled cosily in the north-eastern corner of Bavaria. Of course, there’s nothing cosy about the race-inspired intent of his E92, that’s an altogether angrier proposition, counterpointing the tranquillity of the countryside with aggressive barks and motorsport tinnitus-inducement. “I’ve always been a fan of the DTM and GT2 race series, and I wanted to build a car to replicate that spirit – a real racing car for the street,” says Bryan. “So I bought this car from Bavarian Motor Cars in Grafenwöhr, totally stock, and set about planning the transformation. Naturally the first thing I did, was give it a good wash. I’m fastidious about cleanliness, and it was raining that day…”


    Pretty much as soon as he could see his face grinning back from the gleaming paintwork, Bryan set about fulfilling his race car to-do list. The first thing to tackle – as with around 90% of the cars we feature, in fact – was the suspension; Bryan had an eye on stance, naturally, but was primarily looking for something that would be fit for purpose on those country lanes, something to complement and enhance an already impeccable chassis.

    H&R Clubsport coilovers were the order of the day; famously tested extensively at the Nürburgring, they offer totally flat cornering and supreme directional control, so are much in-keeping with the aspirations of the build. This box-ticking was quickly followed by an upgrade to the exhaust system, a Flowmaster cat-back affair helping the brawny V8 to breathe a little more freely. A BPM Performance Tune brought peak power up to a heady 475hp, which is close enough to the power output of a bona fide DTM racer to keep things entertaining.


    “At this point, I started to think about wheels,” Bryan recalls. “It had to be something that was light and strong, but also had an appropriate motorsport look.” In the end, after much deliberation, it was 360 Forged who got the call, with a set of wide rims in a 20” diameter being powdercoated in red and black to infuse a sense of malice.

    And just think for a moment about how much rubber you need to encase a wheel that’s 20 inches across and a foot wide – those Dunlop Sport Maxx tyres certainly provide a clear statement of intent. It’s at this point in the build that things start to get really interesting. Bryan wanted the car’s exterior to be unique – at once recognisable and clearly removed from the mainstream. This had to be a build that offered something different, that could hold its head up high among its peers. While the aesthetics began with a smattering of readily available parts – a Driftworks carbon fibre spoiler imported from the UK, and a carbon fibre bonnet, front bumper and bootlid from Arkym in California – it was the work he commissioned VB Customz in Grafenwöhr to carry out that really made the difference.


    We’re talking about a complete redesign of that aftermarket bumper, a unique widebody kit to rein in those vast wheels, and all manner of custom, hand-fabricated parts from spoiler supports and splitters to canards and a rear diffuser. The genius of the design is that none of it looks outlandish or out of place; aggressive – sure, unusual – certainly, but not at all jarring.


    “While all this was going on, I’d turned my attention to the interior,” Bryan recalls. “VB Customz had deleted the rear seats and trimmed everything to have more of a motorsport vibe, and there’s now an aluminium cage in there from Wiechers, and a pair of FIA-approved GP Race seats from Barcelona, with Sparco harnesses to suit.” The dedication to the race car ethos is strong in this one, and Bryan’s obsessive about the details – there are no half-measures here, only considered decisions. “The seat coding was sorted out by BPM Sport to eliminate the airbag fault code,” he says. See?

    Fastidious. Because this isn’t a laser-focused, stripped-out racer, it’s a road car that sees daily use. The fact that it has so much racer DNA is what gives it the edge.


    “The Red Bull graphics are unique as they’re all hand-made by me,” he continues, with a touch of pride. “I’m an artist, so cutting the decals was more fun than it was tedious… All-in-all, the project’s taken about two years, although cars are never really finished, are they? There are always things to do – I’m thinking about a big brake kit next.”

    The unique look of this Red Bull roadracer does seem to be going down well so far. Bryan’s first outing with the ‘finished’ product was to the Street Culture Treffen in Regensburg, and it’s fair to say that the reaction was excitable, setting social media aflame with an influx of photos and videos of the brutal M3 in action, the crowd parting like the Red Sea as he rolled out.

    “That was pretty humbling. The autobahn experience is always entertaining too, and dropping my 12-year-old off at school is priceless,” Bryan laughs. In fact it sounds like the lad’s got designs on the car for himself: “He thinks he’s going to get it when he turns 16,” says Bryan, “but mom says no!”


    Well, you can’t blame the lad for trying – particularly when pop talks about augmenting that mooted big brake kit with a supercharger. Now that would really be something to impress your classmates! For now, however, Bryan still has the keys firmly in his hand, and he’s enjoying the fact that his innovative build is deserving of those iconic colours. Much like a can of Red Bull, this E92 is light, robust, packed full of effervescent energy, and has the ability to shake up the schedule of your bowel movements if you’re not careful. If ever there’s an M3 that’s guaranteed to ramp up your friskiness levels, this is it.


    DATA FILE: #BMW-M3-DTM / #BMW-M3-E92-DTM / #BMW-E92 / BMW / #BMW-M3-E92 /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre #V8 #S65B40 / #S65 , #BPM-performance tune (475hp), #Flowmaster cat-back exhaust system, stock six-speed manual gearbox.

    CHASSIS 10.5x20” (front) and 12x20” (rear) 360 #Forged Maverick 5 three-piece wheels with 255/30 (front) and 305/25 (rear) Dunlop Sport Maxx tyres, #H&R Clubsport coilovers.

    EXTERIOR Custom wide-body kit by #VB-Customz , #Arkym carbon fibre bonnet, front bumper and bootlid, custom diffuser, front and side splitters, canards and DTM-style wing mounts, #Driftworks carbon fibre spoiler, custom paint and handmade #Red-Bull graphics.

    INTERIOR #Wiechers four-point aluminium roll-cage, #GP-Race seats, #Sparco five-point harnesses, rear seat delete, #GoPro Hero3.

    THANKS Thanks to my wife and son, Elisabeth and Jonah, for their input and support. Thanks to the Lord who makes everything possible. And thanks to André of Speedy Shots for taking an interest in my project.

    “I’d say that owning a #BMW is more than just owning a car – you’re buying into a piece of auto engineering history”

    Engine bay might look stock but a #BPM-Sport performance tune delivers an impressive 475hp.
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