CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON'S2009 BMW 1 Series128i 2dr Coupe (3.0L 6cyl 6M)

Christopher Johnson's 2009 BMW 1 Series 128i 2dr Coupe (3.0L 6cyl 6M)
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2009 BMW 1 Series

128i 2dr Coupe (3.0L 6cyl 6M)



Vehicle Summary

2009 BMW 128i Coupe. 6-Speed Manual. Monaco Blue with Black Sensatec. Heated Seats and BMW Professional Audio. Was completely stock, but has since been transformed into my perfect car.

Displacement2996 cc
Horsepower~265 hp
Torque~235 lb*ft
0-60~5.3 sec
1/4 ET~13.9 sec

The Story

Q: Tell us the story behind your ride. Where'd you find it, and what made you choose this particular car? I ended up with my car almost completely by accident. I went out to Euro Auto Specialist in Chantilly, VA to look at a BMW Z4 2.5i. I drove it, and it was an absolute basket case; the steering was wander-y, it rode horribly, and it just didn't drive right. I was kinda sad about it, but I knew that detachment was the thing to have when shopping for used cars. Anyways, I was out with my father, and he said to check their website and see if they had anything else of interest. They did, it was a BMW Individual 325ci 'Vert, which was an absolute beauty inside and out, and was maintained extremely well, but it was heavy-feeling, and really didn't scream anything sporty-like. As we were walking out to leave, I noticed this strange-looking (it's really grown on me now) coupé in the back of their garage. I asked the employee that we were working with about it, and he said that it was a manual 128i. I was immediately intrigued, and immediately delved into my phone, and searched their website for this illusive 128i. It turns out it was exactly in my price range, in the exact color I wanted on a BMW (I have a thing for dark blues on BMWs). We ended up test driving it, and I fell in love! Went back home and did a literal crap-ton of research in the week following that, and was wowed by great reports of the N52 motor's reliability, and the parts on the 1-series that are shared with the 3-series. Next weekend, we went up and bought the car on the first day that my driver's license was valid! Mechanically, the car is totally solid. Cosmetically, let's just say it needs some time and money... Q: Describe the mods you've done. Where'd you start, and what's the most recent modification, and what motivated you to do it? I have done a lot things to my car. Nearly none of which are cosmetic, by the way. In the suspension department; I have it riding on Koni Sport adjustable shocks, paired with some good Eibach (OE Sport is what Tire Rack called them) lowering springs, I have Dinan camber plates, 1M control arms front (first mod) and rear, a 15mm rear sway bar (the car isn't a sport pack car, so it didn't even have a sway bar to begin with) from ECS Tuning, Whiteline rear subframe bushing inserts, and I've done my own alignment. To the drivetrain; I've installed a 3-Stage intake manifold from the high-output N52 motor and got a tune from Turner Motorsport (it should be pushing around 265 at the crank, but no dyno yet), I also installed a BMS clutch stop, did the mandatory CDV delete, and found out that the previous owner had already deleted the clutch spring. I've also installed a BMW Performance short shift lever, and rebuilt the shifter mechanism with teflon bushings (the oval ones) from ECS and a polyurethane shift arm support bushing from Turner and the standard OEM BMW rebuild parts. In the interior; I wrapped the wood-look trim pieces with an orange metallic wrap from 3M, re-wrapped the steering wheel with a kit from Xuji, and fitted an instrument cluster from a 135i because it has an oil temp gauge. On to brakes; I installed some 4-Piston Brembo brakes from the F30 335i, along with doing some custom brake cooling ducts, deleting the splash shields, putting on some StopTech Slotted Sport rotors, and also coded out some braking nannies and changed the brake pressure mapping to make the pedal more linear and firm. Most recently, I installed a water-oil heat exchanger-equipped oil filter housing, along with some new coolant lines (170k is hard on the cooling system). The reason for this was to reduce the time it takes the oil to warm up, and stabilize the oil temperatures in high-performance driving (they're known to reach 280+ in these cars without a cooler!). Q: Of all the mods you've done, what offered the biggest bang for your buck? The biggest bang for the buck, I think, were the Dinan camber plates. The front end grip they added was incredible! The whole car's character changed hugely, it was eager, and just wanted to dive into corners and drove like it was on rails. Q: How did you select the parts for this build? Any install tips to share? My choices were mostly focused on making the car more tossable and fun on a good backroad. It's also quite good on-track, too. I can mostly keep up with Miatas in the bends, and then munch them on the straights, which is fun! The best advice I can offer, and this applies to everyone, is to use the right tools for the job. Also, patience is key, it's best to wait an hour to run to the store to get what you need, than to have to wait a week for a part that you broke that is special-order only. Trust me, I have not been patient, and have suffered the loss of precious driving time in my car... Q: What's the biggest challenge with this build? The biggest challenge for this build is figuring out where to go next. There's a lot of research to be done, and you really don't want to mess up, and there are just so many things you want to do, but it's all part of the fun... Q: What's next? It's really a toss-up, as there are a myriad of demons that have reared their heads. Leaning to the top, would be some good bucket seats. I was originally set on some fixed-back, certified racing bucket seats, but I don't know if I can lose the easy access to the rear seats, and they tend to be a good deal more expensive. My dual-mass flywheel sounds like it is on the way out, as it's making that infamous clunking sound when stopping and starting. Lastly, my front sway bar end links are just about shot, so I'd like to take the opportunity to install a stiffer bar and some heavy duty end links.

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16 here now

I am in the middle of swapping-in a 135i cluster, in order to gain an OE-look Oil Temperature gauge. Probably screwed-up EEPROMs and a bunch of other things... Long story short, I have to wait for parts to show up (last one shows up Wednesday). Ordered a universal programmer, a K-DCAN cable, and a new EEPROM chip in-case I trash mine... Electronics have an interesting learning curve, to say the least, but the end result will be well-worth it...and I'll have

I dressed up my engine bay today. I think it looks pretty tidy. It matches my interior trim very nicely.

Awaiting the delivery of my Turner Flash Tune to take advantage of my new DISA manifold...

3-Stage Intake Swap In-Progress...

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