In the late 80s and early 90s, the BMW M3 E30 ruled the roost in both motorsport and the hearts of European car enthusiasts. Light, fast, and nimble, the E30 M3 was the epitome of Bavarian engineering brilliance. Its compact size, coupled with a well-balanced rear-wheel-drive layout, endowed it with an agility that was hard to match. Fast forward to the present day and the M3’s larger, heavier descendants in the 3-Series and 4-Series lineups have distanced themselves from the E30’s go-kart-like driving experience.
Enter the BMW 135i E88 convertible. This compact firecracker, powered by the legendary N54 engine, has been hailed by many motoring journalists as the spiritual successor to the E30 M3. Car and Driver once described it as a “pint-sized rocket” that delivers “sheer driving pleasure,” echoing the sentiments of BMW enthusiasts across the globe. The 135i’s appeal lies in its compact dimensions and a power-to-weight ratio that is reminiscent of the original M3. Moreover, it’s not as mainstream as its 3-Series siblings, ensuring that its owners stand out from the crowd.
The 1-Series lineup, especially the 135i E88 convertible, offers a unique proposition to fans of European performance cars and the modified car culture. They combine the modern tech and safety features that BMW is known for, with a driving experience reminiscent of the golden era of sports cars. The appeal of the 135i E88 lies in its potential for modifications and upgrades, allowing owners to tweak and tune their cars to their heart’s content.
“BMW 1-series combines the modern tech and safety features that BMW is known for, with a driving experience reminiscent of the golden era of sports cars”.
The feature car in question, owned by a true gear head, stands as a testament to the 135i’s mod-friendly nature. It sits on VMR V710 18-inch rims wrapped in staggered tires, with 245/35/18 at the front and 265/35/18 at the rear. This setup not only enhances the car’s aesthetics but also offers improved grip and stability, making it a joy to drive on twisty roads.
Despite the car’s suspension remaining stock, the owner’s choice of exterior modifications adds a dash of aggressive aesthetic appeal inspired by the M-models. 1M replica front and rear bumpers give the convertible a muscular look, while the carbon fiber diffuser, M4 style spoiler, and M style mirror caps add a touch of sporty sophistication. The gloss black grills and black line taillights add contrast against the 3M gloss sunflower wrap, making the car truly stand out. The aftermarket headlights not only improve visibility but also lend an edgy, modern look to the car.
Under the hood, this 135i is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The N54 engine has been tuned to MHD Stage 2+, giving it more power and responsiveness. Aided by SSR dual cone intakes and a 7.5-inch VRSF RACE intercooler, the engine breathes better and runs cooler, resulting in improved performance. The addition of a charge pipe and TIAL BOV, catless downpipes, and a VRSF race exhaust not only enhance the car’s performance but also give it a throaty, visceral exhaust note that is music to any gearhead’s ears.
Despite the hurdles faced during the installation of the exhaust system, the owner’s love for his creation is evident. The way the car looks and sounds are his most cherished aspects of the car, reflecting the essence of car culture – the satisfaction derived from personalizing a machine to one’s taste and preferences.
BMW 135i E88 Convertible With N54 Engine:
- VMR V710 18 inch rims
- Staggered 245/35/18 front and 265/35/18 rear tires
- 1M replica front bumper,
- 1M replica rear bumper
- Carbon fiber diffuser
- Black line taillights
- M4 style spoiler (carbon fiber)
- M style mirror caps
- Gloss black grills
- 3m Gloss sunflower wrap
- Aftermarket headlights
- MHD stage 2+ tune
- SSR dual cone intakes
- Charge pipe and TIAL BOV
- Catless downpipes
- VRSF race exhaust
- 7.5 inch VRSF RACE intercooler
Questions & Answers
Why did you choose an E88 for your project(versus an E93 for instance)?
– I just love the way the E88 looks, very small, nimble but powerful and not so common in my area!
What was the most difficult part of the project?
– No one can install my exhaust 🥲
What do you love the most about your car?
– The way it looks and sounds!
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Matt is an automotive writer and journalist with more than 10 years of experience in the field of aftermarket modifications. He enjoys the diversity of the modern European car culture and appreciates it in every aspect.