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      08-02-2015, 09:52 AM   #1
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Bimmer-Bob's 128i Belated Build Thread

In a little over 5 years of 1er ownership, I've never started a proper build thread. I guess I wasn't very car-forum-savvy when I first picked up the car and, honestly, I don't think I quite realized what I was getting myself into at the time.

But since I guess it looks like I'm gonna be here for a while, and I've got more mods on the horizon, I guess it's about time I started this. Allow me a few posts to get everyone caught up from the beginning, and then hopefully I'll be better about keeping up with it from here on out.
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      08-02-2015, 10:47 AM   #2
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In 2008 I was stationed overseas (Spain) in the US military. Between my wife and I we could only bring one car, so we opted to bring her 2004 Scion xB because it was small, reliable, practical, and paid off.

I figured I'd pick up another car when we returned to the US, and I sort of assumed I'd get a Volkswagen. I'd always been kind of a VW guy, having previously owned a 1990 Corrado, and regularly driven my wife's 1972 Super Beetle, and an old girlfriend's Mk2 Golf.

But then sometime in 2009, a friend on base was going out of town for an extended trip, and she let me use her Euro-spec 1996 318ti while she was away. I had always admired the E36, but never really cared for the styling of the hatchback version before - but wow, was it a hoot to drive! I was instantly sold on the RWD layout, the excellent steering feel, the balanced chassis, and all the other things that make a BMW a BMW. I eventually grew to appreciate the styling, too, but it wasn't all roses - I also got my first taste of working on cars, having to repair a broken driver's-side window regulator, and seeking out technical expertise on an internet forum (the excellent 318ti.org). Still, when it was time to give the keys back a couple of months later, I was hooked, and began visiting the local BMW Military Sales office.

In January of 2010 I ordered my car, a Crimson Red 128i with the essentials: 6MT, Sport Package, Xenon Headlamps, and no sunroof. I really, really wanted an M-Sport, but it wasn't available on 128i's in Crimson Red, and the color was more important to me. I don't regret my decision. Build date was in February 2010. Here it is when I first picked it up, in April 2010:

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      08-02-2015, 10:55 AM   #3
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Waiting for the car to be built, I occupied my time scouring this forum, learning as much as I could about my new car. Of course, it didn't take long for the mod bug to bite, and I had my first mods delivered before I even had the car: Style 216 wheels with Dunlop Direzza Z1 Star Specs. I also added the BMW Performance kidney grills and an M-Sport shift knob and E-brake handle (had to get rid of that faux chrome, and I dig the perforated leather), and later that year I fitted an M3 front anti-roll bar.

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      08-02-2015, 11:30 AM   #4
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Ditching run-flats had the unintended consequence of highlighting the mushiness and float inherent in the stock suspension, and I was never really happy with the bouncy ride at highway speeds. I attempted to rectify that with a set of coilovers, Bilstein PSS9's. All in all, not a bad set - but they slammed the car a little more than I would've liked, and the ride was noticeably harsher than stock. The trade-off was better, more confidence-inspiring handling, and was certainly worth it.

Later in the year I fitted a BMW Performance intake and exhaust. The intake was probably a waste of money (but it looks nice!), but the exhaust was great, providing a visceral growl that, along with the firmer ride and lower stance, was really starting to give the car a brash character that I liked.

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As long as I was in Europe, I figured I should have the dealer install the Alpine Hi-Fi kit, which is a vast improvement over the basically unlistenable base stereo offered on 2010 and early 2011 cars.

That summer I received orders to San Antonio, TX to attend a graduate program, so we drove the car up to Madrid and dropped it off with a shipping company. After arriving in the US, I had to fly to Brunswick, GA to pick up the car from the port and drive it back to our new home in Texas.

I was finally able to have the windows tinted (illegal in Spain), and picked up a few other accessories. By the end of the year, my Dunlops were quite worn and I replaced them with the then-new Michelin Pilot Super Sports, which I found to be an excellent, well-mannered street tire - but ultimately over-hyped as a true performance tire.
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      08-02-2015, 12:00 PM   #5
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2012

Ever since getting back to the States, I was eager to get some time working on the "driver mod." The first several months I was way too busy with school, but by early 2012 I was attending an autocross novice school put on by the San Antonio Sports Car Association, and a couple of BMW CCA HPDE's: one at Harris Hill Road, and the other at Texas Motorsport Ranch.

I started the year off with the shift lever from the BMW Performance Short Shift Kit, as well as a CDV delete. By summer, my front struts were failing. Although Bilstein repaired them under warranty, I obviously needed a suspension in the meantime, and I decided to upgrade to the Ohlins Road & Track coilovers. They really are sublime - it was amazing how much harsher-riding the Bilsteins seemed in comparison (or even the stock suspension).

The only other mod I did that year was the black line tail lamps.

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By the end of the year we were relocating to San Diego, CA for the second half of my school.
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      08-02-2015, 12:10 PM   #6
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      08-02-2015, 12:10 PM   #7
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2013

San Diego has some really great autocrossing. The weather is great, so the season is very long, and the SCCA as well as the BMW CCA run strong, well-attended programs. I attended as much autocross as I could, and it seemed like there was an event about every other weekend.

Significant mods this year were Whiteline rear subframe bushing inserts, which transformed the behavior of the car's rear end at a whopping $45. I also switched wheels to a square set up, APEX ARC-8's in E36 fitment (17x8.5" ET40), and got back on a decent autocross tire, Dunlop Direzza ZII's. The Michelin PSS's really did not like autocross very much, couldn't stand up to the scrubbing, although my own overdriving probably contributed. Nevertheless, I really think th PSS should be considered more of a sport touring tire rather than a real performance tire.

I rounded out the year with M3 front control arms, and a 3-stage intake manifold sourced from a wrecked 330i, with only about 5,000 miles on it. The car was also flashed with an Active Autowerke tune to take advantage of the new intake manifold.
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      08-02-2015, 12:25 PM   #8
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2014

Another year, another move. After finishing school, I received orders to North Carolina. I was able to do one more autocross and a track day in SoCal (at Buttonwillow), but then it was time to move.

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I tried to settle in with the local AX clubs, but I was only able to attend two events, in Charlotte and Wilmington, before work got in the way (I had an upcoming deployment to get ready for).

I was able to pick up a BMW Performance brake kit, though. Some people will say it's nothing but bling, and I do think it happens to look good while also not really being on the same level as a BBK from StopTech or the like. However, I think the brake feel is really improved, and the ability to modulate braking. The 6-pot calipers really have a more aggressive and pleasing initial bite.

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I spent the last couple of months of the year going back and forth between home and training, and by December I had put the car in storage for a 7-month deployment.
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      08-02-2015, 12:39 PM   #9
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Which brings us, finally, to this year.

Though I haven't done much yet (only been back home for a couple of weeks), I've been ordering parts and making plans, and everything should be coming together in the next few weeks.

First up, new tires! I was still on the old ZII's from 2013. I really needed new tires last year, and wanted to try out the BFG Rivals, but I knew I was going to be storing the car and didn't want to end up with flat spots in brand new tires. Anyway, the old Dunlops were down to the wear bars in back, and were noisy as hell, so I ordered a set of Bridgestone RE-71R's, mounted yesterday.

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Now, I know how it is when you compare new tires to worn out old tires; there is a tendency to exaggerate the goodness of the new tires. But these Bridgestones really feel phenomenal, even just (somewhat) aggressive cornering on the street. The lateral grip is impressive. I'm looking forward to finishing up the rest of the AX season with the local SCCA. Next event is in 3 weeks (assuming registration is not closed)!
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      08-02-2015, 12:45 PM   #10
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      08-02-2015, 12:51 PM   #11
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So what's next?

I have a few different irons in the fire, but this is what's sitting in my garage right now:

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Active Autowerke headers and a Magnaflow cat-back exhaust. I picked up the Magnaflow because I've heard the BMW PE with headers is obnoxiously loud, and the Magnaflow is generally considered to have a nice deep growl somewhere between stock and the BMW PE. Should sound great with headers. The fact that it's a full cat-back is a bonus, and I had a coupon code for $200 off, which certainly didn't hurt.
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      08-02-2015, 01:56 PM   #12
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I'm going to need a dyno sir.
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      08-02-2015, 02:06 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAxiom View Post
I'm going to need a dyno sir.
I don't know how much it's worth without a baseline, unfortunately.
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      08-02-2015, 02:57 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bimmer-Bob View Post
I don't know how much it's worth without a baseline, unfortunately.
You'll see your gains from headers and exhaust. Use a dynojet if you can.
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      08-02-2015, 08:03 PM   #15
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I have the magna-flow catback already. I would be interested in hearing the car after both are installed. I have been holding off on the headers due to emissions and sound.
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Demon eyebrows, euro intake, performance brace, black grills, Magnaflow exhaust, Stage 3IM, AA Tune
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      08-02-2015, 08:45 PM   #16
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Can you guys give me some measurements?
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      08-02-2015, 09:05 PM   #17
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Looks great! Please record how the exhaust setup sounds after you get the chance to install it! I'm curious how that magnaflow exhaust sounds.
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      08-02-2015, 11:14 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAxiom
Can you guys give me some measurements?
Measurements?
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      08-02-2015, 11:45 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bimmer-Bob View Post
Measurements?
Magnaflow muffler inlet diameter and the pipes that connect to the stock system diameter.
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      08-03-2015, 06:59 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAxiom
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bimmer-Bob View Post
Measurements?
Magnaflow muffler inlet diameter and the pipes that connect to the stock system diameter.
I'm pretty sure it's all 2.5" piping with 3.5" dual tips, but I'll double check. Part number is 16525.
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      08-03-2015, 02:34 PM   #21
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Confirmed external diameter of 2.5". This is the resonator outlet tubing, where it would clamp with the muffler inlet tubing.

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      08-03-2015, 03:10 PM   #22
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2008 BMW 128i  [0.00]
Love the red, your previous BMW-BBS wheels were niice

if AA-Magnafow combo works great, I will aim to replicate it )
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128i Sport 6MT converted to Euro 130i spec, 3.73 diff, tuned by evolve ~220 whp 207 wtq(ft-lb) SAE
In-progress: //M front arm, M3 rack, e36M lip Wishlist: Coils, n55 mnts, headers, LSD, e60 finn diff


"The 1-series is the last car that BMW engineered before the Germans, as a car-making culture, fell out of love with driving." - R&T 2013 135is
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