Jay Leno’s Garage generally eschews modern tuned machines in favor of either unrestored originals or retro-modded classics, but the latest vehicle to visit the show is quite a special 2008 BMW 135i. Marco Svizzero bought the car in 2011 to fulfill his desire of owning a Bimmer, but when he grew tired with the stock performance, a 4.0-liter V8 and running gear from an M3 went under the hood. Later, he even got bored with the extra muscle and installed a 4.6-liter stroker kit that took the output to 502 horsepower.
In some ways, this is the 1M from an alternate universe. Rather than slotting a biturbo inline-six under the hood like the real car, this one essentially is a tiny version of the E92 generation M3 but with even more power than stock.
In addition to the new engine, Svizzero’s car loses some weight thanks to carbon-fiber pieces for the hood, door cards, and roof. Carbon Revolution’s carbon fiber wheels slice off six pounds per corner, too. There’s no rear seat, either. Instead a roll cage back there provides some extra security when on the track.
The big engine is a very tight fit in the 1 Series narrow engine bay. According to Svizzero, there’s so little clearance that someone needs to lower the front sub-frame in order to change the plugs.
According to Svizzero, he took some inspiration from the Porsche 911 GT3 RS as being a vehicle that worked on the road but could also excel on the track. The tuned V8 sounds incredibly raw, though. It’s fairly quiet in sixth gear but makes quiet a racket when climbing up the rev range.
Svizzero’s 1 Series is quite an impressive project, especially for his first BMW. Check out the video to see how Jay thinks it feels from behind the wheel.