The BMW E82 1-Series represented a return to the fundamentals for BMW – small, light, RWD. These same characteristics also make it a great platform for modding, and given the fact that many E82 BMW 135i’s are cruising around with BMW’s incredibly-tuneable N54 and N55 turbo sixes, the E82 is something of a “perfect storm”.
While yes, in stock form the speed can leave something to be desired, but it’s not like we can’t fix that with a few choice mods. In the next few paragraphs, we’ll be going over the best mods for E82 BMW 135i & 128i, explaining the basics of where to start from the perspective of someone that’s just picked up a stock E82 1-series.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
BMW E82 135i (Lowered) on Forgestar F14 19×8.5 ET46 / 19×9 ET50 Wheels
The BMW E82 didn’t exactly have an amazing selection of wheels to choose from as factory options, and many aren’t exactly pleasant to look at. Almost as if BMW designed the car knowing the stock wheels are going bye bye.
A set of nice wheels makes a huge visual impact on the way a car looks, and just the same, the wrong set can ruin the look of a car. Your wheels set the tone for the rest of the build and can also be eye-grabbing or they can be subtle – it’s a reflection of your personality and preferences. Before we go any further, there’s one thing we need to mention:
E82 BMW 1-Series have VERY high offsets, and most BMW wheels aren’t regularly produced in high offset fitments, so E82’s can’t run the same selection of wheels as most other late model BMWs, and most 1ers look for 18in or 19in wheels, though a few outliers have used 17s.
One of the best new options to hit the market for the 1-Series is the Sportline 8S wheels for BMW 135i. These wheels are lightweight, rotary forged meaning they’re lighter and wider than the stock wheels and most importantly, AVAILABLE in the high offsets necessary for a 1er! Remember, you can’t just throw on any old wheels off a 3-series because of your offsets, so keep this in mind when shopping for wheels.
BMW E82 135i on Forgestar F14 Gunmetal 19×9 / 19×9.5 Wheels
Forgestar Wheels are a great option for the 1-series, because Forgestar Wheels are manufactured to order and machined to offsets specific to YOUR EXACT CAR. That means if you’ve got something weird like an oddball Big Brake kit that screws up the offset, your Forgestar wheels will be made to fit that weird fitment setup. For these reasons, most of the time you won’t see offsets listed with Forgestar wheels. Forgestar F14 Wheels for BMW 1-Series are a great option for anyone shopping for a flow form wheel.
BMW E82 128i on VMR V810 Flow Form Wheels for BMW 1-Series 18×8.5 ET45 / 18×9.5 ET58
Another great flow form option is available from VMR Wheels, the flow form VMR V810 wheels for BMW 1-Series, shown here in 18×8.5 ET45 / 18×9.5 ET58 on a E82 BMW 128i fitted with a 1M style front bumper. The split 7 spoke design looks especially handsome in the Gunmetal finish and works well with the E82’s body lines.BMW E82 135i on VMR VB3 (V703) Matte Black 18×8.5 ET40 / 18×9.5 ET45 on Cobb Springs for E82
with Michelin Pilot Super Sport 225/40-18 / 255/35-18 Tires
If a flow form wheel isn’t in your budget, we’ve got some great budget wheel options for as well. VMR Wheels offers quite a few styles in E82 offsets, like the V703 in Matte Black seen above. These start at a paltry $799 for a set of 4 in 18in fitments.
Avant Garde wheels also offers some really sharp wheel options for the 1-series as well. Avant Garde offers quite a few wheels that look great at a price within reach for most enthusiasts.
Avant Garde M310 Hyper Silver Wheels on E88 BMW 135i Cabrio
If you’ve got a Cabrio, there’s a few sharp looking options for those as well like the Avant Garde M310, shown here in Hyper Silver to make your drop top “pop” a bit more.
If you want something a bit out of the ordinary as BMWs go that will still look great, consider something like Klutch SL14 wheels for BMW E82, shown here in handsome silver machined finish. These wheels fit the lines of the E82 nicely, and the polished lip looks awesome and offers something not seen on too many others.
Looking for a set of wheels for E82 BMW 135i or 128i? Talk to the Mod Experts, give us a call at 714-582-3330 or chat live at ModBargains.com – we have tons of experience with the special requirements of E82 fitments and have our finger on the pulse of when the next shipments of wheels will be coming in, so you don’t miss out on your chance at a set, since the odd offset means E82 fitments are manufactured in much smaller quantities than more conventional BMW fitments.
After you fit your car with a set of new wheels, the next step to making the car look and handle great is lowering the car to eliminate the unsightly wheelgap and lower the center of gravity of your 1-Series. Modding the E82 BMW 1-Series suspension can be done in a few different ways – lowering springs and performance shocks, coilovers, or air suspension.
We’ll start with the simplest first.
Lowering Springs – most people talk about just doing springs, but really, that’s only half the solution. With a few extremely rare exceptions, nearly every lowering spring on the market will wear out your OEM shocks more quickly than they’d wear at stock height – since lowering them pushes the shock out of the range it was designed to operate in, causing accelerated wear.
For this reason, installing a set of performance shocks matched with your lowering springs is the ideal solution, otherwise you’ll be paying for labor twice as you’ll have to take everything apart again later to replace the worn out OEM shocks.
E82 BMW 128i “tii” on Swift Springs with Bilstein Performance Shocks for E82 with genuine BBS RK Wheels
Swift Suspension offers both springs for coilovers and lowering springs, and they have an outstanding reputation with auto enthusiasts. Paired with a set of Bilstein shocks, the Swift Springs on this 135i keep the suspension in the same basic configuration as factory but offer much greater handling performance and a nice drop.
Here’s a look at those Bilstein shocks and Swift Springs as they appear installed into the E82 Suspension.
H&R Sport Springs for BMW E82 128i / 135i are another great choice for lowering springs if you desire a sportier ride than stock and a fairly aggressive drop. H&R has been a go-to choice for european auto enthusiasts for years and with good reason, and they remain a solid choice today.
Eibach is another long-time “go-to” supplier for lowering springs, so when they collaborated with Koni Shock Absorbers to develop a complete solution of lowering springs paired with performance shocks, making the Eibach / Koni FSD Kit for BMW E82 1-series a complete all-in-one solution for those looking for improved handling without going as far as coilovers.
Vogtland Springs offer a 1.6in drop both front and rear.
Another great option if you’re looking for a complete spring and shock package is Vogtland Sport Suspension Kit for BMW E82 1-series, which combining Vogtland Lowering Springs for BMW E82 with a set of high performance shock absorbers matched with the lower springs.
A few other options are out there as well, as Cobb offers a set of springs as a part of their offerings for the E82 1-Series. Cobb Tuning Sport Springs for BMW 135i / is offer a 1.2in drop both front and rear and reportedly, the ride quality is great too – shown here on a red 135i fitted with a set of Matte Black VMR VB3 wheels.
Coilovers are the next step above simply installing a set of lowering springs and performance shock absorbers – but before we get started, there are a couple of myths about coilovers we want to dispel.
Top 3 Coilover Myths
– 1: “Coilovers are too expensive”
While it’s true there are some real bank-buster coilovers out there, most coilovers don’t cost much more than a set of lowering springs and a set of four shocks. If you ONLY do lowering springs, the OEM shocks will be worn out not long after, and so factor in the cost of replacing prematurely worn out shocks – the price gap is a lot narrower than you think, and there are great options from Solo-Werks for $599.99 and Vogtland for $799.99.
-2: “Coilovers are hard to install”
Coilovers cost exactly the same amount to install as a set of springs, as both take exactly the same amount of effort (or hours of shop labor) – if you just do springs, you’re going to pay labor twice when the OEM shocks wear out if they’re not replaced at the same time as the springs – whereas coilovers replaces both the springs and the shock absorbers with a single unit. Coilovers offer precise control over just how much drop your car has and many coilovers have features like adjustable dampers, camber caster plates and some include new endlinks.
-3: “Coilovers are just for track cars”
This is another one we hear all the time – most of us here at the Mod Auto shop have coilovers on our own daily driven cars – often the ride can be better than stock if you don’t leave everything at super-aggressive settings – speaking from personal experience, the ST Suspension XTA Coilovers I installed on my Fiesta ST ride much better than the car’s factory suspension – a feature my passengers very much appreciate. While many coilover options offer numerous adjustments, unless you DO indeed regularly track the car, most of us don’t fiddle with our coilover settings much after we’ve got them dialed in after installation.
E82 135i on Bilstein Coilovers
So with the above said, let’s take a look at some of the coilover options available for the E82.
BMW E82 135i on Vogtland Coilovers
If you’re looking for a coilover that’s affordable, built with quality, reliable components and will give you better handling without making your ride harsher, Vogtland Coilovers for BMW E82 are a great choice.
While the name Vogtland may not be familiar to many stateside, they’ve been in business of making automotive springs and suspension since the early 1900s, and like the other German brands, carries all the usual TUV approvals and such.
Built using Vogtland’s in-house manufactured springs and a high quality shock damper that’s been calibrated to deliver superior handling performance with ride quality as close to OEM as possible, and at $799.99, Vogtland Coilovers for BMW E82 are surprisingly economical.
If you’re on a grassroots racer’s budget and still want a set of coilover, consider a set of Solo-Werks Coilovers for BMW E82.
These fixed damping coilovers are no frills, offering everything you need and nothing you don’t, and at $599.99 for the set, Solo-Werks coilovers are an incredibly economical option.
If you’re on a budget but still need damping adjustments, look no further than a set of BC Racing Coilovers for E82, which offer 30-way adjustment and will set you back only $1000 flat.
Of course, there’s always the big names for coilover options – KW Suspension Coilovers for BMW E82 1-Series are available in several variants to suit your budget and desired level of adjustment, just be prepared to pay a bit more for the KW brand name.
Outside of springs and coilovers, your only other real option is air suspension, which tends to be cost-prohibitive for most enthusiasts.
With the 1er, like many other 1-series specific bits, you’re somewhat limited in your selection of exhausts for BMW E82. Your exhaust will deliver somewhere around 5-15whp, depending on whether or not you’re going axle-back or a cat-back exhaust configuration -and whether you want single outlet or quad tips.
An exhaust system does wonders for the look and sound of your car, giving your engine a beefier, more pleasing exhaust note, a nice bit of weight reduction and extra horsepower/torque – not to mention the fact that an exhaust system can really dress up the rear end of your car, especially if you pair that with an aftermarket diffuser.
If you’re looking for a quad exhaust setup, look no further than the Remus Quad Exhaust for BMW E82 128i/135i. Remus Exhaust is an oem manufacturer of exhaust parts for BMW itself, offering a refined “German” exhaust note, gorgeous carbon-fiber trimmed quad exhaust tips and a bit more volume than the stock exhaust without being obnoxiously loud – making the Remus Quad Exhaust for 135i a great choice for any daily driven 1er.
Here’s the rear view of the Remus Exhaust. When you run a quad exhaust though, you’ll need to either trim your OEM diffuser panel or replace it with a different one with openings on both sides, like the Carbon Fiber Performance Style Rear Diffuser for BMW E82 M-Sport rear bumpers for Quad Exhaust seen above.
Freeing up the flow of exhaust gases and enhancing the tone of the 135i is an ARK Performance DT-S Cat-Back Exhaust System for BMW E82 135i. This mandrel bent system offers an aggressive exhaust note and significantly improved horsepower and torque.Here’s the full view of the ARK DT-S Catback for BMW 135i from below.The ARK DT-S exhaust features burnt-titanium style tips for a unique ‘JDM’ kind of look.
Cobb Tuning has really made a name for themselves in the BMW market and they offer quite the spread of hard parts for the E82 BMW 135i – including an exhaust.
If you want a system that’s middle-of-the-road “loud”- which is to say not too quiet or obnoxious- a Cobb Tuning Cat-Back Exhaust for BMW 135i is an outstanding choice for any daily driven BMW 135i and works hand-in-hand with your other Cobb upgrades.
If big power is your thing, check out the Berk Technology Street Performance Exhaust for BMW E82 135i – with some clever tubing, the engineers at Berk Technology have developed a catback that’s 25lbs lighter than stock and delivers an additional 15whp/20wtq.
Here’s how the BERK tips look installed – you might notice a single-exit Carbon Fiber Performance Style Rear Diffuser for BMW E82 M-Sport Bumpers.
If an aggressive exhaust note is your style and you’d like the choice between single exit or quad tips, check out the Eisenmann Exhaust for BMW E82 1-Series.
If you want to be heard, an Eisenmann Exhaust system is a great choice for you.
4. BIG POWER, SMALL CAR
If you’re one of the lucky few with a 135i / 135is / 1M, you’re in luck, the N54 and N55 turbocharged sixes are capable of delivering horsepower/torque gains that are just ‘unfair’, relatively speaking. See, your average intake will MAYBE yield 10whp – on an N54 or N55, 15-20WHP is normal – on an average turbo car, a ECU reflash (aka TUNE) will yield maybe 20-30whp… on an N54, you’ll walk away with another +50WHP/+80WTQ… and that’s BEFORE YOU EVEN CHANGE ANY PHYSICAL PARTS! See what we mean by ‘unfair’? So, that said, in a teeny car like an E82, combined with a mountain of N54/55 Turbo-Six Torque, these little things can get moving WAYYYY faster than they have any right to.
We’ll start with the #1 item for ‘bang for the buck’ for any N54/N55 BMW.
A Cobb Tuning AccessPORT V3 for N54 (or an AccessPORT V3 for N55) delivers a 21% HP gain and a 28% torque gain on a N54 powered 135i (300hp / 300tq + 21% / 28% = 363HP / 384TQ) and a milder 11% / 16% gain on the later N55-powered cars (333hp / 348tq respectively) on STAGE I. That’s 30-60whp, and again, that’s without changing hardparts. Of the tuners on the market, this is the only one you can even still BUY in California (You can’t buy BMS, aFe or Remus tuners in California anymore thanks to CARB). Cobb’s system is also one of the easiest tuners to install, working through the OBD II port rather than a physical installation like a JB4.
If you DO NOT LIVE IN CALIFORNIA, BMS’ JB4 for BMW N54 engines is a great plug-n-play power adder, coming in at a bit less scratch but delivering solid gains and a ton of functionality, the JB4 has been a favorite of the BMW modding community for years. As we said however, this item is only available outside of California.
The OEM front Mount intercooler is undersized and not terribly efficient. Replacing it with a larger core will allow your N54/N55 to make its optimum torque/power consistently, pull after pull by staving off the evil of ‘heat soak’ and the Intercooler is one of the most critical components to your car going Stage II and Stage III.
A larger front mount intercooler for instance, such as the Cobb Tuning FMIC for N54 BMW 135i doesn’t directly create horsepower gains, but rather, allows you to run more boost and more aggressive fuel and timing which THEN makes more power, meaning an FMIC is one of the best mods you can do for the car, especially if you live somewhere warmer.
Speaking from an example we saw here, a guy had a full bolt on N54 135i… except he’d skipped the intercooler and though he was modded, Stage I and II buddies were still able to keep up or beat him in a straight line. After we explained what was happening to him, the “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” was all the confirmation we needed that we’d made the point. An upgraded intercooler is a critical ingredient to your 135i’s delicious power pie, so consider upgrading sooner than later.
Wagner Tuning offers several FMIC’s for the BMW E82 135i, in various trim levels to suit your budget, giving you a choice of bar plate core or tube fin cores and more.
Wagner Tuning’s FMIC’s are specifically engineered as direct-bolt-on replacements that fit EXACTLY like OEM. This is remarkable because most aftermarket parts do not fit ‘perfectly’ and require some finesse to install – Wagner Tuning is one of the few that truly delivers a fit we can call “PERFECT” and is specifically engineered to minimize pressure drop. The photo above is a comparison between the OEM FMIC and a Wagner Tuning Performance I Intercooler for BMW E82 135i – pretty stark difference, wouldn’t you say?
Evolution Racewerks’ Competition Front Mount Intercooler for 135i is another great choice, offering a massive increase in intercooler displacement and thermal cooling efficiency.
Not to mention it looks perfectly at home behind the OEM front bumper.
In addition to the FMIC, another thing to consider replacing is the chargepipe – lately we’ve been seeing tons of the OEM chargepipes beginning to fail, so considering that all of the OEM chargepipes are the same age, you have to wonder how long yours has left. On N54 models, an Evolution Racewerks Chargepipe with BOV for BMW N54 – shown below with a Turbosmart 50/50 Kompact Blow-Off Valve for BMW N54 installed- is a great idea for both enhancing performance by eliminating boost leaks and preventive maintenance.
The fun thing is that you have a choice of several blow off valves, like the HKS SSQV BOV on the Evolution Racewerks chargepipe shown below. Cobb Tuning offers a Chargepipe, and VRSF offers a chargepipe as well, so ER isn’t your only option.
The next biggest bang-for-the-buck power part for you turbo 1-series is a downpipe- the downpipe will yield 25+whp when tuned, but the tradeoff is that they’re not CARB approved and most of the time are not smog legal.
While almost all catted downpipes are “49-state legal”, there are none currently available for California street use and catless downpipes are not legal for street use anywhere in the USA. We get into downpipes in our N54 Best Bolt On Mods guide and N55 Best Bolt On Mods guide in greater depth, we’re going to kind of gloss-over it here.
The Injen Dual Cone Intake for BMW N54 135i is an outstanding choice for the 135i and looks awesome under the hood – offering a streamlined intake path and ducting to keep fresh air fed to the dual cone setup, offering a tidy gain of around 20whp/20wtq.
If you’ve got the later N55 model, the dual cones are replaced with a larger single unit, and like most things with the N55, the gains are a bit milder at around 10-15whp or so for the Injen Intake for N55 BMW E82 135i models.
Another great option for the N55 guys is the BMS Cold Air Intake for N55 BMW E82 135i, which is good for a dyno proven 10whp gain and features a rotomolded intake tube. Of course there are more intake options out there but for the sake of brevity we’re only mentioning a few here today.
Have a 128i? Well, you’re not out of luck yet.
The Injen Short Ram Air Intake for BMW E82 128i offers the same streamlined intake tubing and SRi technology and integrated heat shield and gives you a bit more eye candy under the hood.
The other great option for BMW E82 128i Intakes is the BMW Performance Cold Air Intake for E82 128i, which looks great and does yield a moderate horsepower gain and will let your straight six sing a bit more clearly.
The last option for N54-powered E82 BMW 135i’s is a Dual Cone Intake for E82 BMW 135i, which yields a decent power gain but the tradeoff is the lack of heatshielding, trading off a cooler air charge for freer flow and sharper response.
5. Exterior Mods
After we’ve handled the wheels and given the 1er a drop, there’s still the matter of its appearance. Check out these great exterior mods to make your 1-Series stand out from the crowd.
One of our favorite ways to spice up the E82 is with a 1M Style Front Bumper for E82 BMW 1-Series, which replaces the ho-hum OEM bumper with a replacement styled after the 1M, but narrowed to fit the non-M 1er. In addition, one of the simplest and easiest way to clean up your exterior aesthetics is a set of Matte Black Kidney Grilles for BMW 1-Series.
Check out the side profile.
As you can see, the bumper comes complete with the grilles etc you’ll need for a complete installation.
While the 1M front end here is for the narrower non-M 1-series, what if you DID want to go wider up front?
If that’s the case, Evolution Racewerks 1M Style Widebody Front End for 135i has your number – complete with wider front fenders to go with the wider front bumper, and gaping air inlets to feed the massive FMIC and dual competition oil coolers.
One of the few options for complete front bumpers for 1-Series is the BMW Performance Front Bumper for E82 BMW 1-Series, which features a larger lower grille opening and enlarged ducts on the side to better feed air to the oil coolers and brakes.
But let’s say you like the factory front end – adding a Carbon Fiber Front Lip for BMW E82 1-Series is a great way to give the front end a more aggressive accent and the carbon fiber lip is designed to fit neatly into the contours of the bumper.
The Kerscher Style Carbon Fiber Front Splitter for BMW E9X also happens to conform pretty closely to the lines of the E82 1-Series, seen here on the 135i on genuine BBS LM wheels above.
There are a few other options out there as well, like this HM Style Front Lip for BMW E82 1-Series seen on the black 135i above, which offers a unique look and turned-up canards at the edges for a more aggressive look.
And of course, if you need more space, an aftermarket hood like this M3 GTR Style hood is a great choice.
The rear end of the 1-series is a touch plain in factory form, so installing a diffuser or different style rear bumper will give the tail end of your 1er a much prettier aesthetic. If you’ve got the M-Sport rear end, it’s easy to change things up – check out the look of this Big Fin Performance Style Carbon Fiber Diffuser for BMW E82 1-series – available in both single or dual opening (for a quad exhaust), this is one of the more aggressive options available to you.
If subtlety is more your thing, try the subtle accent of replacing the OEM diffuser panel with a Carbon Fiber MSport Style Diffuser for BMW E82 1-series, which like the big fin diffuser, is also available in quad exhaust format.
If you want something more unique and exclusive, consider the aggressive aesthetics of the Reiger style Carbon Fiber Diffuser for E82.
And of course, one of the other great ways to give your rear end an aggressive accent is with a spoiler. We offer the OEM BMW Performance Carbon Fiber Trunk Spoiler for E82 BMW 1-Series here, which fits perfectly and adds an aggressive accent to any 1-series.
If you’re on a bit of a budget but still want the look, we also offer this Performance Style Carbon Fiber Trunk Spoiler for BMW E82 1-Series, which looks amazing on the 135i above.
If the Performance style look isn’t your thing, check out the HT style Carbon Fiber Trunk Spoiler for E82 BMW 1-Series, which offers more of an upturn than the performance style spoiler, and you’re not likely to see one on anyone else’s 1er, as it’s somewhat rare.
Check out how it looks installed.
One of the newest options available is the 1M Style Rear Bumper for E82 1-Series, seen installed above. Check out how it looks raw:
This rear bumper is one of the newest offerings on the market and we offer it here, meaning you can be one of the first to have this unique rear end.
Lastly, consider dressing up your lighting with a set of OEM BMW LED LCI Tail Lights for E82 to complete your sexy new rear end.
That’s it for our rundown of the 5 best mods for the BMW E82 128i and 135i, we hope this has been helpful to you!
If you have any questions about modding your E82 BMW 128i or 135i, we invite you to consult our team of Modification Experts.
Several of our staffers here own, modify and daily drive BMW vehicles like yours, so we have plenty of firsthand experience with all the flavors the E82/E87/E88 platform comes in.
Give the Mod Experts a call at 714-582-3330, chat live at ModBargains.com or just stop by the ModAuto showroom (which is also our install facility) in La Habra, CA on Lambert Rd at Harbor Blvd Monday thru Saturday, 8am – 5pm PST.
Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next time!
Story & All Original Photos by Nick Gregson
Select Photos Courtesy Manufacturers