Traditionally, the arrival of a new BMW 3 Series is heralded by the sound of new parts hitting tuner’s shelves, ready to fill the desires of performance enthusiasts around the world. However, the 2012 F30 sedan’s arrival was seemingly greeted by virtual silence.
Several months after its launch, there continues to be scant pickings for what is historically BMW’s most modified model. And as we’ve searched to discover what’s available, we keep coming back to some unique modifications from SoCal BMW specialist, LTBMW in El Monte, CA.
Having bought a 2012 335i Sport, Long Tran (the “LT” in LTBMW) was disappointed by the same lack of tuning parts, so reverted to a tried and tested practice: A few years ago, Long fitted an E90 M3 bumper onto a regular 335i. Of course, it wasn’t a simple swap, requiring cutting and plastic welding that has since become a specialty of the in-house body shop.
When working on his own F30, Tran had originally tried to fit a lip spoiler without much success. Having scoured the web for inspiration, he came across an F12 650i M Sport bumper and asked his friend to mock up the application in Photoshop.
Liking the result, he called Monrovia BMW and found the only one in the country, shipping it to LTBMW the next day. It was a crapshoot whether they could get it to fit but it was finished in time for their 2012 open house – which is where we saw it.
Both bumpers are essentially cut in half, with the lower section of the 650i bumper welded to the top half of the 335i Sport bumper, giving it a “factory” appearance. According to Tran, aligning the parts is the most tedious aspect, taking three days to complete in this instance.
Once finished, the LTBMW hybrid/fusion bumpers would fool the uninitiated and cause enthusiasts to double-take. However, a closer inspection won’t help because you won’t find any seams, uneven paint or signs of filler. It’s that clean!
Since the 650i hybrid bumper worked, LTBMW has been emboldened, progressing to 1M Coupe fusions. This has seen the 1M’s distinctive intakes and ducts appear on 335i and 328i bumpers, as well as the F10 5 Series. It seems there’s no end to the possibilities this melding technique has created.
In addition to the front bumper, the LTBMW paint booth also sprayed the roof gloss black as well as the stock rear diffuser and kidney grilles. They also fitted Euro-spec tail lights.
These small changes give the Melbourne Red 335i more attitude along with its lowered ride courtesy of KW Suspension’s DDC coilovers – currently the only option for the F30 while other companies rush to bring parts to the market.
Finding wheels wasn’t a simple task either. BMW changed the offsets from the E90, so HRE built a set of custom multi-spoke P43sc wheels. Measuring 20x9" ET35 front and 20x11" ET42 rear, they’re wrapped in 245/30 and 285/25 Nitto Invos.
The lush HREs are home to the first set of StopTech brakes on an F30, with the LTBMW 335i being used to test the fitment for six-piston front calipers with 355mm discs, and four-piston calipers in back squeezing 345mm discs.
Under the hood, the N55 3.0L turbo motor has an Evolution Racewerks downpipe and LTBMW front-mount intercooler. The company is also in the process of making its own exhaust system which, in this instance, will have quad tips to fit the F10 Hamann-style diffuser that will soon be fitted to the rear bumper. A cut-down F10 trunk spoiler is also in the works.
The final additions in the pipeline include some of the BMW M Performance interior pieces previewed elsewhere in this issue. By that time, the aftermarket may have caught up with F30 demand but LTBMW should remain one step ahead of the competition.
John Zhang 328i
We photographed two F30 328i’s belonging to loyal LTBMW customers, both with 1M bumper conversions. The first was owned by 1013mm photographer John Zhang.
It sits on HRE P44sc wheels with the same dimension as Long’s, but slightly different offsets: 20x9" ET30 and 20x11" ET44 as well as slightly wider 295/20 Hankook Ventus V12 tires.
The brakes are from Rotora with a six-piston BBK up front and H&R Super Sport lowering springs. The N20 2.0L turbo motor has the same Evolution Racewerks downpipe and intake (as dyno-tested elsewhere in this issue).
The 1M bumper conversion from LTBMW has a Slek carbon fiber front lip (originally designed for the 1M) and the grilles have been painted black.
Richard Pinela 328i
The driver of the second 328i owns Stance Wheels (stancewheels.com), so he built custom offsets for his SC-5ive wheels. They measure a generous 20x9.5" ET37 front and 20x10.5" ET44 rear with 245/30 and 285/20 Falken FK-452 tires respectively. The car was lowered on H&R Super Sport springs.
In addition to the same LTBMW 1M bumper conversion and Slek carbon lip, Richard had the roof, grilles and rear diffuser painted black. Uniquely, this car has LTBMW blades below the stock side skirts to give it extra cache.
Finally, the owner had a new MagnaFlow exhaust fitted a few days before our photo shoot to make it more vocal.