So here we go again, to those who are reading this please be warned this is going to be a long one. I went though my photos to refresh my memory along with tracing the dates that back logs for 9 months.
As some know by now I have retired the Celica from daily duties so I needed a new car. I toyed with the idea for over a year during the trials and tribulations I came across with it.
I have always had an intention of buying an E46 M3 but after some consideration about the age, potential and after months of failed attempts to find a good condition 04.5+ I started looking into other options that I liked in the past. Range Rover Sports, Range Rover Evoque, BMW 135i, BMW X5, BMW M5, Mercedes SLK55, Nissan 370Z, and even an Mitsubishi Evo X. I knew I had euro curiosity and I feared I would fall into another modification pit if I bought another Japanese car, that is why I considered the SUV options to leave the performance sector all together. I am starting to wish I went the SUV option.
So some time in March I headed out to view a few cars and came across a mint condition 2009 BMW 135i. It only had 20,000kms on the odometer and was quite heavily optioned from factory including the professional sat nav with the updated iDrive/screen. The only issue was that it is a manual example and my original intention was to finally buy an auto (daily). I was given the keys and given free reign to take it for a test drive. Alone. After that drive, a bit of negotiation and quick judgment I went ahead and signed the contract. I am still unsure if I have made the right decision to this day.
A week went by and the car was ready for pick up. Being the way I am, I did not take time to get acquainted with the car in standard form and already begun purchasing things for it before it was even in my garage.
Picking it up from the dealer:
Little things like orange indicators and yellow lights get on my nerves so I had no hesitation to change them the moment I got the car home.
Assortment of random lights:
Yellow halos gone:
A few days had gone by and I was getting acquainted with the car but I had a developing hatred for the radio/changing disks. Luckily my iDrive/iPod cable finally arrived. I was rather impressed with the integration; it is on par with the Alpine system in the Celica. Additionally another box was ready for collection; this one contained an aFe intake system and AR Design 3” catless downpipes that have been ceramic coated.
Additionally I wasn’t 100% happy with white halogen halos so I ordered this:
I didn’t install the intake or downpipes based on the fact I was hoping to get a dyno baseline before I started tinkering with the engine. I had to fly over to Malaysia for 2 weeks for work so it had to wait. Upon arriving back in Perth I had a decent haul of gifts waiting at the Post Office for collection. This mainly contained exterior mods such as grills, diffusers, spoiler, and badges. These parts were set aside besides the grills.
Chrome kidney grills vs. matte black:
Carbon fibre diffuser, spoiler, and also new plates:
Both life ruining machines at home together:
I didn’t manage to get a booking made for ASG once I got back due to Sean’s wedding. I was willing to wait but after a month I decided to just install the intake since driving around in a quiet car was making me unhappy. The intake was surprisingly easy to install, the stock items used very few bolts and is put together in a Lego like manner. I did however find wrappers and cigarette butts inside the air box; luckily the filter did the job. The new intake dramatically increased the induction note, the turbo whine and additionally the diverter valve noise came out but it still lacked the low-end note. I miss naturally aspirated induction noise. As expected no performance gains were felt but it is arguable that the dual pods will see benefits when running higher boost.
Stock box out:
Exposing the plastic manifold:
The aFe intake + heat shield in:
Still hell bent on removing yellow lights I noticed BMW sells a LED conversion kit that replaces majority of the interior lights. Further research came up with the result that “eBay kits” are actually the most complete and reliable set. Considering they cost practically nothing I went ahead and bought them to try out. The results were pleasing.
I also went ahead and did basic stuff such as removing the standard rear mudguards, and performing the “golf tee mod” to the exhaust. Essentially you block off the vacuum line that activates the flap inside the muffler which results in keeping both pipes fully opened at all times.
Vacuumed line blocked off:
I also bought carbon fibre roundels aka badges along with a vinyl overlay kit. I didn’t want to install the carbon badges whist the car still remained stock on the outside so I went ahead and applied the overlays in the mean time. I prefer this look rather than the standard blue BMW logo, which in my opinion ruined the theme I was going after.
Rear roundel modified:
On the wheels:
Carbon on the inside is fine to go ahead:
At this point the Antilag track night was nearing and I planned to debut the car there along with the Celica. So I finally went ahead and organised a dyno run with ASG. The car didn’t show any abnormalities and I was able to get a guideline as to what it runs stock before I went ahead and changed the downpipes/tune. It came out with 260rwhp at the hubs, not too bad for a stock output (with intake).
All bolted in:
As a safety precaution/requirement Josh from Galvsport found a simple solution to mount a fire extinguisher without cutting or damaging the car in anyway using the stock seat mounts. This made it completely reversible if I decided to remove it in the future.
Nifty hiding spot still allowing full electric movement:
Well as fate has it I crashed the Celica along with grenading the engine. After that incident I decided against testing my luck with the 1 out on the track. I also should mention I didn’t manage to fit the downpipes in time either due to the Cobb flash tuner not arriving in time.
The car comes standard with a 4200k HID headlights however I was still unhappy with the colour tone. Whilst driving down the road with Adrian for Shannon’s wedding I noticed his E55 had 6000k HIDs and it turns out he just replaced the stock globes with 6000k Philips options. I ordered a set of 6000k Philips replacements pronto the following day deciding against the cheaper options. My car was optioned with the overpriced adaptive headlights so I had no intention on running the risk of breaking them with cheap ballast/globes. When I pulled out the stock units I realised these were identical to them but only with a different colour temperature.
Sadly this made me much happier:
Not entirely related to the build I would like to report the fact that entering this car via the boot is surprisingly comfortable. The pull leavers accessible in the boot for the seats fold down are a wonderful feature. It is very necessary when you have shit mates who play pranks that result in you having no possible way of entering through the doors (one being a AL member). I originally started the prank by blocking off my mate making him have to enter through the passenger door… That was until the other guy decided to join in. Karma kicked in fast.
A while later my Cobb AP finally arrived at work. I was previously against pre programmed flash tuners however after seeing plenty of the guys having no issue running them in the US and Australia on 1Addicts/E90 post I decided to use it. The device comes with several maps stage 0 (stock), 1 (mild boost upgrade no mods), 2 (downpipes minimum), and 2+ (FMIC a must). Each stage also has 3 versions drive (95RON mild), sport (95RON bit more aggressive), and aggressive (98RON… Yeah). It also allows custom maps to be made so my intention is to finish my initial bolt on mods and get Sean at ASG to clean up the tune.
I didn’t have much patience so during my lunch break I went ahead and loaded a stage 1 map. The car pulled surprisingly better with the slight bump in boost and it also produced an angrier engine note. The torque increase also produced a more “lively” drive that the car needed.
Such a compact unit:
5 minute tune:
This motivated me to play with the car a bit more so once I got home I decided to debadge the car along with changing over to the carbon fibre badges.
Tempted to put a 120D badge on:
More wank accessories:
Since I finally have my Cobb AP I could install the AR design downpipes I had sitting around. During the wait I also picked up a set of Eibach pro kit springs to give the car a mild drop before I went ahead with the next phase of mods. They will be replaced with coilovers in the future. I headed to Galvsport a few days later to install them with the assistance of Josh.
Ready for install:
Surprisingly flat under body:
The downpipe install was not as easy as we first expected. I did a bit of research prior to the install however it was pointed out to me a fatal flaw… I was reading guides from the US that features left hand drive cars leaving them with much more space compared to the ADM cars with the steering column in the way. The space allocated for the stock pipes with cats was very limited and furthermore reaching the bolts to unbolt them proved to be quite difficult. The steering rack required to be loosened to give us a bit more working space. After copious amounts of swearing they finally came out.
Not the most fun:
Stock 2.5” catted pipes vs. AR Design 3” catless (ceramic coated) pipes:
Even though they no longer had the bulky cats, the bigger diameter proved to be just as difficult to install into the tight space. It required lots of twisting and the Tetris theme song playing in my head.
Finally bolted to the turbos:
Unfortunately I was in a rush that night and had to leave right after they were bolted in so we couldn’t change the springs too. Furthermore it appears that I had no boost after the downpipe install. After a quick research it appears one of the C clamps on the downpipes was obstructing the actuators causing the loss in boost, this was quite common due to the tight spacing. We decided to bring the car back to the workshop the next day to rectify it along with the spring change. Fun fact I left the workshop with Josh’s car keys to the 323 race car in my pocket so he had fun trying to lock the car back into the workshop. I am a top bloke.
The next day I had tickets to the Mundaring Truffle festival so the plan was to leave the car with Josh and pick it up all fixed and lowered that night/the next day. This plan had a flaw… Going by my theme the night before I managed to drive all the way to Mundaring before I realised I had left the 1’s car keys in my pocket… I instructed Josh to use the forklift to carry the 1 back into the workshop overnight since I was going to be up in Mundaring for quite a while. But for some bizarre reason he was not happy with this suggestion, which resulted in me coming to pick the car back up at 6pm before I headed back out to dinner that night in the City. Once again I am a top bloke.
A few nights later I went to visit Josh after work for a chat and dinner. We also finally moved the C clamp out of the way, to give me boost once again. He originally tried accessing it from the top of the engine bay with little luck so we put the car back on the hoist and a few minutes later the issue was gone. A stage 2 map from the Cobb AP was loaded and we took it for a spin, the car pulled much harder than stage 1 with the stock downpipes. According to the Internet the car is currently at 330-350rwhp, I am yet to check.
Josh loves it:
Coincidently the night after the power bump along with a less than ideal mood due to work politics the car started making funny whipping noises from the back driving home. I pulled over and realised a belt has parted from the tyre; using the first aid kit supplied in the car I snipped off the detached piece and drove home carefully.
The following day I made a few phone calls asking for pricing and availability for replacement tyres. I wanted to run Advan AD08’s however they were quite pricy in Australia (especially compared to US Tirerack) along with the fact of being out of stock for another 2 months locally. I needed tyres and I needed it now. I decided to try out the Federal’s 595 RSR after seeing positive reviews. They do not have the best wear ratings but from what I heard they produce very good grip and they are cheap to replace. After driving on them for the last few months I can report back that they grip significantly more than the standard Bridgestone run-flats, I no longer have a strobing traction control light all the time and I am considering running them again after this set over my original plans of “upgrading” to Advan AD08’s. I have finally worn out the front set of run-flats too so I will be switching those over to RSR’s or AD08’s too.
Replacement tyres on: