The 135i might not be one of the most exciting models that BMW produces, but when you squeeze a 4.6L Dinan stroker V8 under the hood, suddenly it becomes fascinating. That’s exactly what Marco Svizzero did with this particular example of the 2008 BMW 135i, and that combined with a whole list of other upgrades has turned this “entry-level” car into a lean mean track machine.
The stock 135i wasn’t exactly a slouch by any means. It had the 3.0L twin turbo inline six-cylinder, the same one that powered the 335i, which produced 300hp and 300lb-ft of torque. It was the top of the line package of the 1 Series, at least until the 1M came out in 2010. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t room for improvement, and in this case a lot of it.
When Svizzero first got the car he drove it for a while with the stock motor and even tried racing it at weekend track days and street car shootouts. He started running into problems from the turbo motor not being able to handle the punishment, so he took it to the guys at Performance Technic, a California-based BMW speed shop, and they decided a V8 swap was the only way to go. However, any old V8 wasn’t going to work being that Svizzero is an avid BMW enthusiast. So they did some measurements and realized that they could squeeze the 4.0L V8 from the E92 M3 under the hood. That brought the horsepower up to 414 automatically and if you remember, that’s naturally aspirated horsepower and was actually the last one used in the M3/M4.
After running the new 4.0L V8 for a while it soon became time for yet another major upgrade. That’s when the ridiculously powerful 4.6L Dinan stroker V8 came into play and things got really interesting. Now this wicked little car has an engine that produces just over 500hp at the crank! Having all that power would be too much for the stock 135i drivetrain, so they decided to continue on with the E92 M3 theme and borrowed the transmission and axles from a donor car.
Simply adding more power to a car doesn’t make it a good track car, even if it’s a BMW and therefore “The Ultimate Driving Machine.” You need to upgrade the brakes, suspension, aero packages, and maybe most importantly add safety equipment such as racing seats, harness, and a roll cage if you’re trying to get really serious. You also want to keep the car as light as possible which can be extremely tricky to accomplish.
Luckily there are materials such as carbon fiber that work perfectly for this sort of thing, and this car has a lot of it. For example, the wheels are made completely of carbon fiber, which according to Svizzero saves six pounds at each corner. There’s also carbon fiber integrated thoughout the car in an effort to reduce the weight as much as possible. Yet interestingly, the amenities such as air conditioning work just like it did when it left the factory floor. Apparently, this was something that the guys at Performance Technic prided themselves on and for that, we have the utmost respect.
In the end you have one of the baddest BMW 135i’s on the planet, and even though I’m also an avid BMW enthusiast, I never cared for any of the 1 Series. Although after learning more about this build, there’s not a question in my mind that I would be proud as punch to call this my own. I’m sure the feeling Svizzero gets when he embarrasses Corvettes, Mustangs and other high-performance cars on the track must be a pretty damn good one.
Here you can see this amazing car in action on a recent episode of Jay Leno’s Garage.