The 2011 BMW 1M—or 1 Series M Coupe, to use its official title—rapidly earned iconic status, and deservedly so. First of all, it's incredibly rare, with only 1,000 cars available in the U.S. Secondly, it was equipped with the BMW M3 chassis to give it superb handling, while having the benefit of the lighter, torquey 3.0L turbo motor. And thirdly, it looked badass with its widebody styling.
Of course, there were those who felt BMW should have gone the whole hog and used the 4.0L M3 V8 engine as well, but that would have overshadowed the M3 itself and required more extensive development, pushing up the cost.
With that said, it was inevitable the aftermarket would execute the swap, and German BMW specialist G-Power duly obliged with the G1 V8 Hurricane RS. We featured it in the 3/14 issue of European Car magazine, and can be found at europeancarweb.com.
Boasting 600 hp, thanks to an ASA supercharger, and finished in chocolate brown, it was magnificent but thousands of miles removed. What we wanted was something similar on U.S. soil. And if it was evading the Highway Patrol while running moonshine, so much the better!
Sadly, such a scenario wasn't realized, but we were still delighted to see, hear, and touch a similar conversion at this year's Bimmerfest West show in Pasadena, California.
It was housed in the Toyo Tires booth, and we initially paid it little attention since it looked like a 1M with aftermarket wheels. It was only after poking around it for a few moments that the full extent of its modifications became apparent.
We quickly tracked down the owner, Marco Svizzero from San Francisco, California, as well as the tuner, Joey Gaffey from Performance Technic in Dublin, California. The pair was slightly overwhelmed by the response the car received from Bimmerfest visitors and confessed it was barely finished in time for the show.
Creating a project such as this is always a confluence of circumstances and happenstance. For Marco, he was lucky to find a company willing and able to install the M3 V8 into his 2008 BMW 135i, while Joey was lucky to be in the right place, at the right time when Marco was ready to pull the trigger.
When speaking to Joey, it was apparent he had been building up to this car over the past five years. It all began when he walked away from his job as a marketing executive at his father's software firm in order to follow his passion. As a lifelong BMW enthusiast, he established his new business to work on Munich's finest.
Where happenstance intervened was that Joey didn't want to simply install suspension and exhaust systems. "I wanted to create a company capable of doing custom swaps. It's not something many shops are prepared to do, but it's what I really love," he told us.
His first major project was a manual transmission conversion on a BMW 540i M Sport Touring. The car had a number of M5 exterior pieces and attracted a lot of local and Internet attention, helping the company grow rapidly.
Performance Technic would make a name for itself by carrying out 6MT conversions to E46 M3 SMG cars. In fact, the company created a kit of parts to allow customers to make it a DIY conversion.
The custom creations were building steam and would culminate in Performance Technic's biggest achievement to date: Marco's 135i. "It's undoubtedly our most significant undertaking," Joey confirmed.
If we backtrack slightly, Marco had been a Performance Technic (PTech) customer for a year or so, having several of his early modifications fitted on-site and taking part in several of the shop's track days.
At this point, the coupe already wore its shiny new suit: Marco had decided to give his 135i more muscle and ordered the genuine 1M body kit, fitting the front end himself, with its distinctive front bumper and wider front fenders.
At the rear, he had DTM Autohaus in El Monte, California, fit the wider rear fenders since these necessitated cutting away the original metalwork and grafting on the new fender flares. They also added the 1M rear bumper and side skirts to complete the transformation.
With the car painted in BMW's Alpine White 3, Marco approached composite specialists Revozport and partnered with them to complete the exterior. Based in Hong Kong, the company's 1M Raze package is regarded by Marco as "The most complete aftermarket aero kit for the car and some of the best carbon fiber I've ever seen."
The Revozport BMW 1M Raze components comprised the large front splitter (with APR supports) as well as the lightweight hood and trunk, trunk lip, rear diffuser, and GTS rear wing.
Once fitted by Marco, the hood and trunk were painted by DTM, but the owner opted to leave the Revozport carbon-fiber roof in its natural weave. As it happens, it has a 1x1 glossy weave, mimicking the factory E92 BMW M3 roof. The rest of the parts were made in 2x2 satin weave to Marco's specification.
To further reinforce the little coupe's track prowess, it had been fitted with a rollbar built by TC Designs. "I had them make a 'cage similar to the M3 GTS as a nod to my OEM+ theme," Marco explained. He would also install carbon/kevlar Recaro Profi SPA seats for the same purpose.