As an auto enthusiast, cars built to fulfill a specific purpose are some of our favorite builds. When you’re building to do something specific, you put a lot of care into precisely which parts you install. Tailoring your build to do something very particular usually results in something special. And such is the case here. Ken’s 2008 E90 BMW 335i isn’t exactly stock, but you wouldn’t know it at a passing glance – and he likes it that way. This E90 is Ken’s daily driver – and commuter vehicle. Over the past two years, Ken’s put 55,000 miles on the car – and a lot of seat time. If you’re going to spend that much time driving, why not do it in the Ultimate Driving Machine?
Over the past few months Modification Experts Elliott and Michael have had the pleasure of working with Ken to make further changes to his E90 beyond the Dinan goodies it came with. Ken heard about us on Bimmerpost and E90Post, and has been popping by for his E90 BMW 335i Upgrades every few months after a great experience having his intake fitted here. It’s been a treat to see the car evolve. The car sits on a set of classy TSW Nurburgring Wheels for BMW in Matte Gunmetal, which simultaneously manage to both look aggressive and yet like it might’ve come that way at the same time.
Visually, a handful of very subtle upgrades set the car apart from other 335’s without being obnoxious or overly flashy. Continuing the black accent theme is a set of Black BMW E90 Kidney Grilles and blacked out rear numerals, smoked rear tail lights – and the piece d’resistance, Black DINAN exhaust tips. All these small E90 BMW 335i Accessories combined create a refined, custom look.
Beneath that unassuming white exterior, there’s a lot more muscle than it appears to have. When Ken picked up the car two years ago, one of the perks it had was that it came with a DINAN Stage II Tune, already loaded onto the car. While not as aggressive as a Cobb AccessPort for N54 or BMS JB4 for N54, the Dinan Stage II tune is good for a conservative but potent +75 Horsepower gain and an extra +120ft/lb of torque from the N54 Twin Turbo Six under the hood- proof positive of just how much power BMW left on the table for these engines. If a conservative tune alone can yield more than 70hp, one has to wonder where the limit really is with these motors.
Complimenting the tune is an aFe Stage II Intake System for E90 BMW 335i, which lets that N54 breathe better – and lets you enjoy the sweet engine note of that inline six unfiltered. The OEM airbox is more than a little restrictive – this upgraded N54 cold air intake for E90 BMW 335i from aFe is good for 27HP and 34lb/ft of torque (these are huge gains for an intake – around double what most intake), with the added bonus of actually improving fuel economy by 1-2mpg. The nice thing about this intake is that it mounts using the OEM mounting points and looks totally at home under the hood – like it always should have been that way.
After 55,000 miles, the brakes needed some attention. You never know when a stray Honda Accord will pull out in front of you on Cali freeways, so any improvement in stopping power is a good thing. Ken opted to go with a StopTech Stage II Brake Upgrade Kit for BMW E90 335i for a thorough improvement in brake performance. The grippier compound of the ST brake pads directly improves stopping power, the braided stainless brake lines offer better pedal feel and the cross drilled rotors deliver superior cooling to keep brake fade at bay. ModBargains Installers fitted the 335i with StopTech Cross-Drilled Rotors, ST Performance Brake Pads, Braided Stainless Steel Brake Lines and replaced the hydraulic brake fluid with Performance Brake Fluid better able to cope with demanding braking conditions – an excellent choice for the infamous Stop and Go traffic of Los Angeles.
Since it’s designed for commuting, it’s no surprise that it sports an Automatic transmission- it makes sense and the way we have to inch along sometimes in traffic can wear out your clutch and tire out your left leg in a hurry. That’s not to say that that this car is a slouch as a result of the automagic transmission – oh no. As you may or may not know, many European model vehicles use a separate computer for controlling the transmission – which you have to tune separately from the engine. When you need to gun it to get over into that next lane, you don’t want to wait around for your transmission to catch up with you and decide to go a few seconds later. That’s why this one’s been reflashed with an Automatic Transmission Tune by Alpina, the legendary BMW Tuning House that specializes in Automatic BMWs to make the car more responsive and fun to drive.
As we mentioned earlier, the 335i sports a set of classy and subtle black Dinan exhaust tips – the finishing touch on a full Dinan Free Flow Exhaust system. As you might expect of a Dinan product, the exhaust has a nice low rumble that has a subtle hint of aggression without making the car drone or overly loud.
Clearly a fan of the finest quality products with OEM-like fitment, it’s no surprise that Ken tells us his next planned mod for the car is a Wagner Tuning Front Mount Intercooler for BMW N54 Engines, one of the few upgraded intercoolers that offers a true OEM-like fit for as clean an install as possible – and a 90% increase in airflow over stock as well as 13,572 cm3 of volume, compared to the OEM unit’s 7,293 cm3 volume and Wagner Tuning‘s clever engineers have come up with a no-pressure-loss design (many intercoolers often do have some pressure drop, so engineering this out of the IC is quite an achievement). Since as we’ve discussed in the past, the BMW N54 and N55 Engines tend to run hot, so any increase in cooling capacity will be a boon to the car’s performance.
After upgrading to a larger Front Mount Intercooler, the car will have enough miles on it that the OEM suspension will be due for replacement. Given that this is a commuter and he plans to keep it as comfortable as possible while still sporty (a philosophy I repeat in my own builds -Ed.), Ken’s considering a set of Linear-Rate springs for E90, such as those offered by Eibach or Swift paired up with Koni Shock Absorbers for E90 BMW 335i. Ken’s particular 335i already sports an OEM oil cooler and doesn’t plan to track the car, so that’s not in the cards anytime soon, but maybe someday.
Overall, we’re huge fans of Ken’s build and the care in selecting parts for a super clean, tailored look really shows with the finished product. It’s everything you want in a commuter – power to spare, comfortable, plenty of stopping power and a clean, subtle look that lets you zip around without drawing any “unwanted attention” – nor does it advertise the car’s huge increase in power. We can’t wait to see what’s next for Ken’s E90 and we’re sure you can’t either. Check out the rest of the photos below.
If you’d like to get your E90 BMW 335i looking and performing like Ken’s, give one of our Modification Experts like Michael or Elliott a call at 714-582-3330 or chat with them online at ModBargains.com – and should you need a shop that’s capable of performing High Performance Installs that ordinary shops just can’t handle, ModBargains experienced, professional Installers are at the ready here at our shop in La Habra. Thanks to Ken for letting us share his fantastic build with all of you.
Story & Photos by Nicholas Gregson