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    SIMPLE PLEASURES Finely-honed 400hp 1M

    Man, machine, open roads, fulfilment. That’s pretty much the formula for happiness, is it not? Ah, if only life were so simple… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Peter Wu.

    All you really need to know is that the universe is a lot more complicated than you might think, even if you start from a position of thinking it’s pretty damn complicated in the first place.’ So wrote Douglas Adams, and he was a man of sufficient wisdom to have a decent handle on such matters; the world and everything in it (not to mention all the things outside of it) are so mind-numbingly crammed with incomprehensible minutiae that when you start to consider the logic of anything beyond what you’re having for dinner or which Kardashian’s up the duff this week, it can get a little overwhelming. What we need is simplicity. Clarity. Binary black-and-whiteness. And in the case of this crisp and clinical 1M, simplicity is exactly what you get.

    It is what it is, and nothing more – no complexity, no ambiguity, just a snapshot… …except, no, that’s not actually the case at all. It’s a cunning illusion, an exercise in smoke-and-mirrors shadow play. “Many people can’t tell what came with the car and what I’ve added,” says owner Manu Sethi.

    “I take that as a compliment, because the goal was to always keep the car looking OEM, even after such heavy modifications.” Part of this is thanks to the obscurity of the 1M itself, of course – they’re such a rare sight that most onlookers don’t know what they’re seeing in the first place, let alone that it’s a rambunctiously tweaked example. And this is all just the latest in a long line of BMW affection for Manu. “I’ve had a love for BMWs all my life,” he enthuses. “My first car was an E36 M3 – I had to take two jobs to afford that car, and I was happy to do it. I had a smile on my face every day I drove it! And I’ve gone through a number of BMWs along the way, from 3 Series to 7 Series. I have a deep love for the brand. My next BMW will surely be a European Delivery, it’s been an unfulfilled dream for far too long.”

    Manu’s is a bona fide success story, going from those early days of working two jobs to afford the used car he desired to the present day situation that finds him with a gleaming new Lamborghini Huracán on his drive, bullishly flanked by his Audi R8 V10 and his Mercedes E-Class. But while it’s simple enough to stroll into a Lambo dealer and pick up the latest exotic ride, tracking down something as obscure as a 1M isn’t quite so easy…

    “I bought the car brand-new in 2011 and, like most 1Ms, it was not an easy find,” he recalls. “I got lucky, really – I drove all the way out to Las Vegas to get mine; the dealer was initially allocated eight cars and ended up only getting two! I was fortunate enough to buy one of them – number 88 out of North America’s allocation of 740. The model was rare to begin with, and its scarcity is only increasing. From day one my car has garnered plenty of attention. Leaving the gym one time, a guy said to me ‘Is that a 1M? How the hell did you get a 1M? You must’ve had to sell your left nut!’ Lucky for me that was not the case!”

    Manu’s right when he says that the scarcity of 1Ms is increasing – global economic instability has seen people investing in cars like never before over the last half-decade or so, and anything that fuses quality and desirability with lowvolume obscurity is firmly in the crosshairs of the speculators. More than a few 1Ms have been wrapped up in cotton wool and locked away in private collections, making the disheartening shift from driver’s plaything to investor’s cash cow. Thankfully, however, some people bought them because they actually wanted to use them. And in Manu’s case, that was only the beginning.

    “I was excited by the idea of the project,” he says. “I wanted to make a limited car even more limited. But I bided my time to ensure everything was right; I waited two years before I hit the mods hard. The idea was to wait until every aftermarket company released parts for the 1M, and then pick and choose what I thought was the best. As you can see, the build list comprises many different brands. No compromises were made. The BMW Performance seats are a case in point: by the time I was ready to make the purchase, I was notified that they had been discontinued. It was a struggle to locate a brand-new set but the project wouldn’t have been complete without them. After an exhaustive search I got the very last set and they were worth every penny.”

    Manu’s approach is founded in a refreshingly honest appraisal of the car, one which may be anathema to some of you but will resonate strongly with the values of others: that the 1 Series isn’t exactly a looker. That’s not to say it’s a fugly mess by any means but it’s arguably not as cohesive as, say, an E9x – the swoop and flow of the bonnet into the wings, the banana-shaped sills, to some eyes it all seems a bit fairground. To others, naturally this suggests brilliant uniqueness and visual drama, and we’re not going to argue with that either. It’s all about perspective.

    “The M division definitely helped out with the looks on the 1M, but still there was a lot lacking,” reckons Manu. “In modifying the car, I paid attention to the existing lines and made sure to stay consistent with them. For example, the flat-bottom, half curved headlights were specifically designed with the lines of the car in mind. Similarly, the Revozport bonnet, the radial stripes on the tyres, and the BBS FIs were also chosen to complement the curves on the car.” This is all in-keeping with his optical-illusion approach, he’s basically just toying with people’s perceptions. It works brilliantly.
    The game plan wasn’t purely aesthetic, either. Manu was keen to build on the mighty drivetrain of the 1M to create something that’d truly earn its place in his stable of supercars; as such, the feisty N54 now sports freer-flowing Akrapovic pipes, a GruppeM intake, a Forge intercooler, and various other natty little tricks in order to crank that peak performance figure up to something that begins with a four. And while he has almighty respect for the M Division’s chassis-honing abilities, you’ll find a certain forthright reworking underneath the skin too, principally in the form of Öhlins Road & Track coilovers and a Brembo Type III bigbrake upgrade.

    “I definitely hit a few hurdles in the course of the build,” Manu admits. “Even though I went with top-notch brands, things still went wrong. You have to expect this when you’re dealing with aftermarket modifications! It’s part of the journey. Through the process I gained a lot of knowledge of the 1M and cars in general; moreover, I forged invaluable relationships along the way. At the end of the day, you’re dealing with people. Sometimes products don’t fit or perform like they should but what makes a company great is the people that stand behind it – that’s what you pay extra for, the service.

    “The 1M really is a fun little pocket rocket, but practical at the same time. The rear seats can comfortably fit two and the boot is spacious; I don’t use the car as my daily driver but I certainly don’t baby it either – it goes on the canyons and on the track. It’s a hoot to drive! At times it can be scary, unforgiving even, but it’s always a thrill. It’s the immense amount of torque attached to a short wheelbase that makes it a hooligan!”

    Mission accomplished, then – Manu’s created a perky little foil to the biggerbrother supercars, and achieved his goal of tricking the eye of many an onlooker. While the 1M may look relatively stock to the casual observer, the robust spec list certainly suggests otherwise. So where does he go from here? “Oh, one is always tweaking to achieve perfection,” he says, a twinkle in his eye and a mischievous grin curling the corners of the mouth. “I have some plans, just wait and see.” We guess we’ll be needing to keep an eye on his Instagram page (@msethi88). This illusion of simplicity could soon break whole new realms of complexity.

    “I wanted to make a limited car even more limited”

    “The build list comprises many brands. No compromises were made”

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-1M-Coupé-E82 / #BMW-1M / #BMW / #BMW-E82 / #BMW-1-Series-E82 / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1M-E82 / #N54B30TO / #N54B30 / #N54 / #BMW-N54 / #BMW-1M-Coupé-E82

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six twinturbo N54B30TO, #GruppeM intake, #Forge intercooler, Forge dump valves, #Evolution-Racewerks chargepipe, full stainless steel #Akrapovic exhaust system with cat-less downpipes, BMS oil catch can, #Cobb-V3 with #PTF custom map, six-speed manual gearbox. 400hp

    CHASSIS 9.5x19” (front) and 10.5x19” (rear) #BBS / #BBS-FI-R forged alloys with 255/35 (front) and 275/35 (rear) Michelin Pilot Supersport tyres, MRG titanium race studs, M valve caps, Öhlins Road & Track coilovers, Brembo-Type-III-BBK / Brembo

    EXTERIOR Revozport carbon fibre bonnet, OSS DTM headlights, lightweight carbon fibre front lip, Dinmann carbonfibre side skirts, Vorsteiner carbon fibre diffuser, BMW carbon fibre spoiler, BMW carbon fibre mirror caps, BMW Blackline tail-lights, Macht Schnell tow straps, XPEL clear wrap protectant film and stripes, WeissLicht LED indicators

    INTERIOR #BMW-Performance pedals and footrest, LED interior lights, BMW electronic #Performance-V2 steering wheel, illuminated gear knob, BMW Homelink/Compass rearview mirror, BMW Euro visors, M handbrake handle, BMW Performance seats, Euro foglight switch enabled, carbon fibre centre console, Euro MDM
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