420hp BMW 1 Series Track Monster
The E82 BMW 135i is often overlooked when compared to the more popular models in BMW’s line-up. The E82 1-series itself looks like an afterthought, like someone at BMW decided to shrink the 3-series and the 1-series was the product of that.
But that’s where things start going good for the 135i. They might have shrunk what was outside, but under the hood, it packs the same N54 300hp inline-6 turbo as its bigger E92 335i sibling but in a lighter, more nimble package.
Familiar with the N54 motor, the owner of this 135i, Alex Bernstein, ditched his 3-series and decided that the lighter 135i would be the perfect blank canvas to turn his into a razor sharp track tool. Nearly every important part of the driving experience has been enhanced in Alex’s customized 1-series. Being that the N54 was already a strong basis to start with, Alex didn’t get too crazy with mods under the hood. Keeping the stock turbo and adding a couple of bolt-ons, along with a ECU reflash from Wedge Performance, the N54 now makes a healthy 420 hp and 440 lb/ft of torque on E85 gas. A CSF aluminum radiator and intercooler keeps temps down while on the track. With plenty of power on tap, Alex focused most of his attention on connecting the driver to the chassis and the chassis to the road.
From the outside, his 135 can easily be mistaken for the wilder BMW 1M. That is because Alex used OEM BMW bits from the limited edition 1M (wider fenders, quarter panels, bumpers and side skirts) and fitted them onto his 135. Complementing the wider stance, Alex lowered the cars center of gravity thanks to an IND carbon fiber roof and Seibon carbon fiber hood and trunk. Lastly, the APR rear wing and splitter help to give Alex that high speed stability on track.
Inside, the heavy, multi-way adjustable front seats have been replaced with a pair of Recaro Pole Position bucket seats. OMP harnesses attached to a rear roll cage keep Alex strapped down while a smaller diameter OMP steering wheel lets Alex point the car through the apex.
Between the front seats is an AKG shifter which Alex uses to row through the 6 gears and does so much faster thanks to a Spec clutch and lightweight flywheel. Power is sent to an upgraded rear axle built by Diffsonline which features a 3.46 final drive ratio, from a 135i auto instead of the manual transmission’s final drive of 3.08. A Wavetrack LSD rounds out the drivetrain mods and makes sure that power gets to both rear wheels.
In stock form, many consider the 1-series to be one of the best modern BMW driver’s cars. To amplify that, Alex upgraded the suspension with MCS 2-way coilovers mated with stiffer Eibach springs, all around. A true rear coilover set up replaces the stock rear suspension layout where the spring and struts are separated.
Every suspension bushing as been replaced with Powerflex track bushings to minimize any slack and improve handling and feedback. The engine and transmission mounts have also been replaced to ensure that no torque is lost. Front control arms and Bimmerworld rear camber and toe arms let Alex fine tune his alignment to maximize the grip from his 275/35/18 Nitto NT01 tires.
A Stoptech Trophy big brake kit hides behind the front Titan 7 lightweight forged wheels, which he runs in a 18x10" on all four corners, tucked under the wider 1M fenders.
As much as Alex has done to his 135i, there is still a few improvements he has planned. As his build continues, you can catch Alex and his 135i gunning for PB's at race tracks all over California.