2011 BMW 1M Coupe

I’ve been on a bit of a yellow kick as of late, but even I was surprised when I came upon this BMW 1M. To date, I had not seen a BMW Individual painted 1M Coupe and to spy one in Dakar Yellow seemed especially amazing. Even more amazing was the price; despite only 35,000 miles on the clock, this E87 seemed priced to move at only $50,000 – some $20,000 less than other examples on the market. It was clearly worth a bit of further investigation…

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2011 BMW 1M Coupe

Much like the E28 M5, the E82 was a legend before it even hit the market. Press releases and journalists gushed over its superlatives; while most felt it was a return to the classic BMW form, some went so far as to suggest it was the best M product ever. Debate still rages over that and generally fans of each chassis manage to come up with plenty of justification as to why theirs is the most special M produced. However, one thing is undeniable; the 1M might be the only M car to ever immediately appreciate on the market. Perhaps it was the combination of those aforementioned press articles or the limited nature of the model; a scant 983 were produced for the U.S. market over a 10 month production cycle in 2011. As with the E28, color choices were quite limited (though, thankfully more than just black!) – 326 Alpine White III (300), 222 Black Sapphire Metallic (475), and 435 Valencia Orange Metallic (B44) – the model’s signature color. All were mated with the same interior: LWNZ Black Boston leather with contrasting orange stitching. They all featured the same drivetrain specification, too – the boosted twin-turbocharged N54 turned up to 340 horsepower and mated only to a 6-speed manual with a limited slip differential. Wheels were the Competition Package BBS-made Style 359M 19″ options from the E9x. The result was magical:

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2010 BMW 535xi Touring M-Sport

It’s been a while since I last updated you on the trials and tribulations of E61 ownership. And, there have been a few exciting events which pertain to this car. Some of that comes down to learning about the quirks of ownership. For example, the iDrive system has a habit of notifying you of problems well after they’ve occurred. Like the E46, the E61 utilized the ABS speed sensors to calculate rotation of the wheels to determine if you’ve got a flat tire. So, if you..say…swap wheels and forget to notify the car that you’ve done so, it gets very unhappy (but, not immediately – only a few miles down the road will it tell you something occurred). Navigating the menus to find specific items can be laborious, but with time it gets better and you start to figure it out. But the electronic nannies don’t end there; the “IBS” – Intelligent Battery Sensor – proved to be anything but intelligent, as it malfunctioned and decided that the car shouldn’t start. It took a lot of internet diving to determine that simply unplugging the connector would fix the problem. Of course, that sensor is directly under the drains for the sunroof, which unfortunately seem to have a habit of randomly leaking (and, according to the never-wrong internet, are almost always the cause of the woes with the IBS).

Then there’s the service warning.

Say your 11 year old car uses (read: leaks) a little oil. Fine, no problem, top it up. But the E6x FREAKS OUT that you’ve lost a little oil and basically tells you you’re about to grenade the motor. Except, it doesn’t do this when you first start the car. No, because the N52 carries some 7 quarts of synthetic it waits for the oil to warm up prior to notifying you there’s a problem.…

2012 BMW 335is

As popularity of the BMW 3-series doesn’t seem to be waning much even with the death renaming of the 2-door variant, finding a slick coupe to set up apart from the BMW crowd can be difficult. Outside of the obvious M3 choice, the ZHP models like the one Craig wrote up on Friday are certainly highly prized and priced. When it came to the E46’s replacement, there was no ZHP package offered – bummer. But, late in the run BMW did roll out a very special package with an even more storied connection to the 3er. In 2011, BMW reintroduced the “is” moniker to the top-notch 335 2-door. The new 335is differed from the regular production run in many ways. Replacing the N55 motor was the trusty N54, just like in the 1M. BMW remapped the engine to deliver 320 horsepower and 332 lb.ft of torque channeled through a short-shift 6-speed gearbox or you could opt for the dual-clutch DCT 7-speed from the M3 for repeatable 5.0 second runs to 60. Because it was turbocharged, you also have a 7-second overboost function that gives you another 40 lb.ft in passing situations (or, to show off). The 335is helped to mitigate this additional power with a revised cooling system and heavier-duty motor mounts. The additional cooling meant no fog lights for the coupe, though oddly they could be had on the convertible 335is. Typical M adornments outside meant revised front and rear bumper covers, and the 335is wore unique Style 313 forged wheels measuring a substantial 19×8 in front and 19×9 out back. There were also discrete 335is badges under the side indicators to let drivers beside you know you were in some obscure BMW model besides a M3:

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2008 BMW 335i Coupe

Tempting. If I were to sum up the 335i 6-speed coupe in one word, that would have to be it. When it originally launched, I felt that the E92 looks were too heavy compared to the outgoing E46 model, but I have to admit that I think this car has aged pretty well. One thing that couldn’t be argued was the performance on tap from the new twin-turbocharged N54 inline-6. While it didn’t offer quite the spin of the S54 in the previous generation M3, it had more usable grunt. Coupled with a 6-speed manual transmission, the performance figures in real world driving generally indicated that the 335i was as fast as the M3 had been. Inside, the E9x was thoroughly modern, too – if the E46 was the last of the classic driver-oriented dash designs dating back to the late 1970s, the E9x ushered in the new era of electronic-heavy dash design to the 3-series. Is it all bad? No – in fact, in a recent car search the 335i coupe was pretty high on my list of potential candidates because of the sheer bang for the buck quotient. Enter my usual complaint; my searches sifted through hundreds of gray and black examples, but this one really caught my eye because of the unusual combination of Deep Green Metallic and Beige leather:

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Horned Mythological Beast? 2008 BMW 535xi Touring 6-speed

There are a lot of often used and consequently misused terms in the automotive world. Recently, I saw a post asking what the most annoying or inappropriate car name was and the comments slowly devolved into just hating on certain types of cars rather than poorly named cars. A bad car is the PT Cruiser, and while the name “PT Cruiser” is odd, it’s not as off-putting to me as some other names – like, for example, the Japanese adding of “a” to the end of a normal word to make a car name. Yesterday I was behind a Suzuki Forenza – theoretically, named for Firenza (itself misspelled, since it should really be Firenze), the Italian name of Florence. Having been to Florence, I can find nothing in common with that city and the car. Nor can I find anything in common with the wonderful Italian Renaissance city and the Daewoo Lacetti which the Suzuki is based upon. Of course, there is a real city of Forenza, but since it’s a random obscure place in the center of relatively poor Southern Italy, I doubt that the geniuses at Suzuki felt it would be poignant to name a car after it. Of course, then again – it’s a cheap and obscure car – so perhaps they’re more clever than I give them credit for. But, I digress.

Where was I going? Oh, that’s right. Unicorns. The term “Unicorn” is one that I run across nearly every day in my daily car searches. Now, by itself that would negate the whole idea of the unicorn, right? I mean they’re supposed to be rare, but if everyone has them then they’re not very rare, are they? Okay, so the frequency with which I seem to find self-described unicorns is off. Perhaps they’re Narwhals? That might be more appropriate, since I also never see hooves, they’re infrequently white, and their blood doesn’t keep others alive – nor is it silver.…

2009 BMW 135i M-Sport

In my search for an E46 M3, there was a nagging voice in the back of my head. As I looked at high prices of nicer examples of the M3, the voice kept saying “what about the E82?” So, what about the E82? In 135i guise, you got some of the styling from the M3 in a smaller chassis even though, generally speaking, it makes the E46 look pretty huge. In overall length, the E82 shorter than even the E30 as amazing as that sounds. But the standard roof height meant that visually the 1 series looked slightly out of proportion. Dynamically, though, that S54 must be a massive trump card, right? Well, again, not so fast, as the N54 twin-turbocharged inline-6 lay under the hood. Sure, it was at a slight horsepower disadvantage, but it makes up for that 33 horsepower deficit with 38 lb.ft more torque – and unlike the S54, that torque is available from under 2,000 RPMs. The result is that at least on paper, the 135i can run step in step with the E46 M3 acceleration to 60, 1/4 mile and 100 are all within a few tenths of each other – certainly enough that the driver could make a difference. And properly equipped, the E82 is a pretty neat looking car, like this 2009 M-Sport package:

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Feature Listing: 2012 BMW 335is

Like this past weekend’s 135i, a potential alternative to the M3 that I’ve considered quite a few times is the 335i. Upping the ante a notch, in 2011 BMW introduced the 335is; ostensibly, the spiritual successor to the ZHP package that the E46 had in the 330i. As they had with the 1M, BMW kept the N54 twin-turbo motor in the 335is instead of the usual N55 single turbo that was in the 135i and 335i. Tuned up to a reported 320 horsepower and 332 lb.ft of torque, the N54-equipped 335is also enjoyed a revised short-shift 6-speed gearbox and M-Sport styling outside, bringing it closer visually to the M3 – along with unique split 5-spoke wheels. While the 335is wasn’t much of a match for the high-revving V8 of the M3, in real world conditions it wasn’t much slower – and notably, with a healthy bump in torque over the S54, the 335is matched or bettered the reported E46 M3 acceleration numbers. Having just driven an E46 M3 this past weekend, the soundtrack is great but there’s a notable lack of grunt under 3,000 RPM – certainly to be expected, but when I get into even my considerably less powerful Passat, the fun of the turbo engagement at lower revolutions to provide a healthy kick in the pants – even at partial throttle – is something it’s hard to get out of a normally aspirated car without huge displacement. On top of a bit of extra grunt and some go-faster body kit, this particular 335is was optioned in one of the better blues BMW has offered in recent generations; LeMans Blue Metallic:

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Tuner Tuesday: 2008 BMW 135i Hartge

In my ongoing quest to get into a newer BMW, one car that keeps popping up is the 1 series E82 Coupe. The reason why is pretty simple; value. I love cars with the M badge, but it’s sometimes hard to justify the premium, and looking through the E46 market is a bit like one of those Sarah McLachlin-soundtracked mistreated animal commercials. Too many have suffered heavy modifications, mistreatment, and the number of salvage titles must exceed any other specific model – it’s simply amazing. In contrast, many of the 135is are just leaving their first owners as they begin to head into the used car market, meaning there are plenty of examples in good shape, with good owner history and with lower miles. Still, the E82 doesn’t really get me warm and fuzzy; I once described it as a E46 M3 that was in the middle of a 3-car pileup and then repaired by a high-school autobody shop as a project. It just doesn’t look quite right to my eyes, with the bending rocker accentuating the short wheelbase, while the “I’m somewhat surprised” look of the too-large and too-upright headlights begs for some internet meme action. However, once in a while one catches my eye and strikes me as a compelling alternative to a M3. With the twin-turbocharged N54 under the hood coupled to a manual transmission, you got the same feel as the E46 M. Couple that with some attractive visual changes from BMW specialist Hartge along with a bump in power, and suddenly you have a much neater package:

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Two Turbos or None? BMW 335i v. M3

A few months ago at a gathering of friends, two BMWs were present – my friend’s E46 M3 and his acquaintance’s E82 135i. A bit under my breath, I mentioned to him that I still couldn’t get over how unattractive the 135i was compared to the M3. I may have said that the E82 looked a bit like a really poor quality bodyshop repaired a E46 that had been both in full frontal and rear crashes – poorly. But my friend countered that if anything, that 135i was faster and more fun to drive than his M3. Looking back, I paused, and thought “Could I?” The answer remains no in my book, but it does raise an interesting question – with E92 335i prices dropping within reach of the higher E46 M3s, which is the better choice?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 BMW 335i on eBay