- THE MPRESSIONIST 470hp 1M-kitted 135i / HARDCORE 135i 470hp, #1M-kitted beast
With 1M looks backed-up with a lot more than 1M power, what was once an unassuming 135i is now a package of pure muscle. Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Matt Richardson
Fitting the 3.0-litre, twin-turbo, straight-six N54 engine into the 1 Series Coupé is one of the best things BMW has ever done. The engine amazed when it first appeared in the E9x 335i thanks to its combination of huge torque spread, impressive top-end, and stirring soundtrack (despite the presence of two turbos to muffle the exhaust note). And then BMW decided to stuff it under the bonnet of the smaller, lighter 1 Series Coupé creating something of a performance hero. But the story doesn’t end there because a couple of years later BMW came out with the 1M, with the E9x M3 running gear crammed under those swollen arches, more power and more attitude, this time creating a performance icon. These days you can pick a 135i up for about £10,000 whereas you’d need about £40,000 to get your hands on a limited edition 1M. Of course, the 1M is a very different prospect when compared with a plain Jane 135i but certainly as far as performance goes there’s hardly anything in it. And once you’ve whacked a remap on the 135i it’ll be the quicker car, if that’s what you’re interested in. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from buying yourself a 135i and building it up into something that’s even better than a 1M…
Meet Sachin Patel, a man who’s done just that. And while he’s got a fair bit of cash invested in his long-term love of a 135i, he’s built this beast of a 1 Series for less than stock 1M would cost to buy. It’s packing some serious firepower, enough to refuse to be intimidated by all but the most heavyweight high performance machinery. And, of course, pouring money as well as your heart and soul into your BMW is just part of everyday life when you’re a lifelong fan of Bavaria’s finest.
“Actually, I was never a BMW fan,” says Sachin. Oh well, scratch that then. “I lived in West London and saw so many so I wasn’t really interested in them at all. That all changed, though, when I drove a 120d. I was really impressed by it. I was looking for a small, powerful car that was also economical and when I read Jeremy Clarkson’s review of the 135i I was sold and went and bought one.”
Sachin always knew he was going to modify his 135i and the first item on his list was more power, because when it’s so easy to extract it would be rude not to. In order to ramp up the power the 135i was treated to a remap, along with an induction kit and a pair of uprated diverter valves. This was enough to nudge power up to the very high 300s and plenty to be getting on with. Sachin also decided to give his chassis a bit of a tweak with the addition of some thicker Eibach anti-roll bars to improve its cornering abilities. And that was enough to satisfy his needs for mods for a while.
“After I’d had the car for about four or five years I decided to sell it and move onto something else,” says Sachin. “A prospective buyer came over one day to have a look at it and said that he was going to put a 1M kit on whatever car he bought. It sounded like such a good idea that I removed the car from sale and started looking at getting the 1M kit done myself. I called MStyle, said I wanted a 1M kit, and everything snowballed from there.”
The transformation was no gentle transition, though. “The styling went from standard to this in one go!” Sachin exclaims. That’s one hell of a transformation. The kit is a Prior Design M wide-body kit, consisting of front and rear bumpers, side skirts, wider front wings and wider rear quarter panels. It’s comprehensive and means that this 135i looks every inch the 1M that inspired its makeover. Now, the kit on its own is awesome and Sachin could have left things there and been extremely happy with the results, but he didn’t. At the same time as the kit was being added a whole host of other styling additions were thrown into the mix to take the car to the next level. Up front there’s an MStyle carbon fibre vented power dome bonnet, a full-length carbon front splitter, and #BMW M Performance gloss black kidney grilles. Then you’ve got the 1M door mirrors, a carbon boot spoiler and carbon fibre rear diffuser from #MStyle , plus LCI Darkline rear lights. These elements are all pretty subtle compared to the impact of the body kit but they definitely add the perfect finishing touches.
Originally, Sachin’s 135i had been white but with its transformation to a wide-body monster it needed a fresh new look. “I’d decided I wanted a matt colour and was debating between black and grey,” he says. You can see which choice won in the end, with the car now finished in stunning Frozen grey. It’s a gorgeous colour that accentuates all of the car’s lines and gives it an otherworldly look. In addition to the Frozen grey bodywork the roof has been painted gloss black, which offers a nice contrast. With the new body kit there was no way that the M Sport wheels that the car had come with would cut the mustard any longer, nor were they beefy enough to fill those fat arches, so the hunt was on for a new set of rims that would be up to the job. Those wheels are Forgestar F14s, forged 14-spoke affairs which are, usefully, available to order in some serious widths and with astonishingly deep concave designs. Indeed, the 9x19” fronts are labelled Deep Concave while the 11x19” rears are what Forgestar calls Super Deep Concave, and that’s no exaggeration, the spokes disappearing deep within the wheel before they hit the centre. With a kit as wild and wide as this you really need to make sure your wheel choice won’t be overwhelmed by those massive arches and that it is capable of delivering its own brand of wow. Well the Forgestars definitely deliver on that front.
With Sachin’s styling plans accomplished, he decided to look at getting a bit more power out of the N54 as, while the 135i was quick, there was still a lot of untapped potential. And who better than MStyle to help tap it? As such, the engine has been fitted with a Mosselman MSL 500 turbo kit, Mosselman twin oil cooler kit and oil cooler separator. There’s also an induction kit, uprated intercooler, uprated low pressure fuel pump, cat-less downpipes, a de-cat centre section with a custom quad exhaust system, and the whole lot is topped off with a Mosselman Stage 3 remap. The end result?
A dyno-proven 470hp with a thumping 480lb ft of torque, huge gains that deliver equally huge performance and really push what was once a humble 135i to the next level.
Up until this point Sachin was still riding on nothing more than the stock suspension with the only handling aids being those Eibach anti-roll bars, so that needed to change. MStyle recommended coilovers so he whipped his wallet out and opted for a set of BC Racing height and damping adjustable items with matching front camber adjustable pillow ball top mounts. “It rides and handles brilliantly now,” says Sachin, “and there’s so much grip it’s actually scary!” He’s has kept the standard callipers because they’re pretty massive, with six-pots up front, but they’ve been given a lick of orange paint which really makes them stand out against the black wheels and grey bodywork.
Inside you’ll find red leather, which looks equally good against the exterior, with carbon trim and a BMW M Performance gear knob, Alcantara gaiter, and matching Alcantara handbrake gaiter. Since the shoot Sachin has added an M Performance Alcantara steering wheel with shift lights and a digital display. He is now thinking about fitting a pair of M4 front seats, which would look awesome.
As we finish up our shoot, Sachin asks if I’d like to take the 135i it out for a spin. I grab the key off him with such ferocity he’s lucky he’s still got a hand left. The first impressions behind the wheel are defined by the stubby gear knob, UUC short-shift kit, and UUC Stage 2 multi-puck ceramic clutch.
It all feels a bit sharp and snatchy for someone who’s just jumped in the car for the first time, so I’m gentle with the clutch and gear change and it’s clear that you’d very quickly get used to the combination and drive it as smoothly as any other car. What a short-shift kit does do, though, is make you want to drive fast and rip through the gears – so that’s exactly what I do. The performance is awesome! It’s the torque that really gets you. There’s so much of it spread over such a wide rev range that it’s always there when you put your foot down. When you do the 135i just explodes forward. It’s incredible and makes this car ridiculously rapid. It takes no effort to find yourself travelling far more quickly than you ever had any intention of doing. The mid-range is so astonishing that you find yourself shortshifting, which drops you right back into the torque plateau, but when the opportunity arises I keep the throttle pinned to get a taste of the top end and it doesn’t disappoint. There’s no let up in acceleration and the power just keeps on coming. When you tap into that heady top end the car feels ferocious and furious and it’s addictive.
The ride is firm but compliant and the chassis feels taught and precise, the 135i cornering hard, fast and flat, while the brakes feel strong with plenty of feel through the pedal providing massive stopping power. Oh, and it sounds good, too. Really good. That fully-decatted exhaust really lets that straight-six sing. It’s a great noise, the icing on a very fast cake indeed.
“I’m very happy with the car,” grins Sachin as I hand back the keys, though perhaps that’s why he’s smiling. “It gets lots of attention. I’m actually surprised just how much. It’s got the look I’ve always wanted and it’s the car I’ve always wanted.”
What Sachin’s done is taken a good car and made it great, which is the ultimate modifying goal. And when the end result is as impressive as this, that’s something you can be truly proud of.
Interior features carbon trim, a shortshift kit and red leather, which looks great against the grey exterior; orange brake calipers add a flash of colour.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E82 / #BMW-135i / #BMW-135i-E82 / #N54 / #BMW-N54 / #Mosselman-MSL500 / #Mosselman / #UUC-Motorwerks / #N54-Mosselman / #BMW-135i-Mosselman / #BMW-135i-Mosselman-E82 / #Mosselman-Stage-3 / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1-Series-E82 /
ENGINE 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six #N54B30 , #Mosselman-MSL500-N54-turbo-kit , twin oil cooler kit and oil cooler separator, induction kit, uprated intercooler, uprated low pressure fuel pump, cat-less downpipes, de-cat centre section, #Mosselman-Stage-3 remap
TRANSMISSION Six-speed manual gearbox, #UUC-Motorwerks-Stage-2 multi-puck ceramic clutch, UUC Motorwerks double-shear Evo short-shift kit
CHASSIS 9x19” (front) #Deep-Concave and 11x19” (rear) #Super-Deep-Concave-Forgestar-F14 forged wheels in gloss black with 245/35 (front) and 285/30 (rear) Continental ContiSportContact 5P tyres, #BC-Racing height and damping adjustable coilover kit, #BC-Racing front camber adjustable pillow ball top mounts, #Eibach anti-roll bars, brake calipers painted in custom orange with M decals, #Quaife-LSD
EXTERIOR Prior Design M wide-body kit consisting of front and rear bumpers, side skirts, wider front wings and wider rear quarter panels, painted MStyle carbon vented power dome bonnet, MStyle full length carbon fibre front splitter and carbon fibre rear diffuser, BMW M Performance gloss black kidney grilles, OE 1M air ducts and arch liners, OE 1M door mirrors, MStyle custom quad exhaust, SuperSprint quad tailpipes, MStyle carbon boot spoiler, full respray in Frozen grey, roof painted gloss black, Darkline E82 LCI rear lights
INTERIOR #BMW M Performance gear knob and Alcantara gaiter, #BMW-M-Performance Alcantara gaiter for handbrake
“It rides and handles brilliantly now… there’s so much grip it’s scary”