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  • [SC NEWS] An Intricate Surgery: BMW 1M with The Heart of An M3 by Auto Racing Technik

    To refresh your memory, the BMW 1M was a two-door compact sports car by BMW produced from 2011 to 2012, packing the N54 engine which was a 3.0L twin-turbocharged straight-six engine, churning out a respectable 335 horsepower through a 6-speed manual gearbox. The 1M was by no means a bad car, it had respectable power and was praised by many journalists including the great olí Jeremy Clarkson. Even Chris Harris still preferred the BMW 1M compared to the M2 Ė not the M2 Competition, mind you.

    However, there was of course potential from the 1M, and we believe that. BMW would always hold back the performance of their smaller cars so that it doesnít interfere with the sales of itís more powerful models, in this case, the E92 M3. This is obviously what Mr. Hans, the owner of Auto Racing Technik, thought of when he saw the BMW 1M, and add to that his ambition to create cars unlike any other, what you get is a BMW 1M with the S65 4.0L V8 engine from an E92 M3. Sounds beautiful, doesn't it?

    Yes, a V8, you heard that right. The project is done by Auto Racing Technik Ė ART for short Ė in collaboration with Manhart, and the man in charge is Adam Radowski, who is the Technical Director of Manhart Performance, one of the biggest tuning house specializing in BMWs. So you know this is going to be good.

    Fitting an entirely different engine Ė that wasnít designed for the car, no less Ė is not as simple as putting a new motor in your Mini 4x4/Tamiya, thereís so much more that goes into the process, especially with cars thatís as complicated as BMW.

    We wont confuse you with the details like Adam did with us during his electrical engineering lecture, but in a nutshell, modern BMWs have something called CAS or Car Access System which controls all sorts of things in the car, including the locks, the lights, and the pedals for instance. Thereís also something called the CAN bus, and think of it as a bus terminal where all the buses from all around gather and then they come and go from & to the ECU. Except, instead of buses, these are electrical signals from the electrical hardware all around the car, the CAN bus in essence is a terminal to simplify all the wiring that goes into the carís ECU.

    ďThis is not a modification, this is like creating a new carĒ as Mr. Hans said, and we agree. The fact that they needed to do the coding between the engine and the car is like developing a whole new car.

    Confused? Donít worry, we got confused as we were writing that. Itís so complicated that even Mr. Hans and Adam jokingly called it BM Trouble-U. But to put it simply, these systems control pretty much everything about the car, and all the CAS and CAN bus coding and signals have to be changed and adapted in order for it to be able to work with the ECU of the new engine, otherwise, it wonít even start. Think of it as a complicated brain surgery where you have to put in a new brain inside someoneís head, you would need to connect every nerve-ending with the brain correctly otherwise it wont work.

    Unlike a brain-replacement surgery however, this isnít impossible, some of you might have seen the exhaust clip on our Instagram.

    Thereís more to it than the wiring, the exhaust pipeline for example had to be customized along with the new quad-tip exhaust. The old straight-six only had one exhaust exit from the engine, the new V8 has two, so a whole different exhaust scheme had to be designed, and this was all done in-house by ART. They also needed to put in extra heat-shielding underneath the car between the new exhaust pipes and the drive shaft, and thatís just the tip of the iceberg on the attention to detail on this car.

    The carís floors underneath the engine for example had to be custom-designed by ART so that it channels air the correct way and keeps the engine cool. The mud-guard inside the fenders are customized as well to accommodate a couple of new radiators that sit inside the front-fenders. The brakes meanwhile are impressive on itís own, 380mm on the front with 6 calipers and 4 calipers in the back. Not only that, ART is going to fit in a cooling system which directs air coming into one of the carís lower-front air intake to cool the brakes so it doesnít overheat. This is the kind of stuff that you see in a Ferrari F12 for Godís sake.

    In the suspension department, ART has fitted a set of fully adjustable Ohlins coilovers, and ART will set it up somewhere between performance and comfort, just enough stiffness to keep the car in check, but still comfortable enough so that it wont break your back should you want to take a Sunday drive.

    Still not impressive enough for you? The air intake is from Manhart and it is MASSIVE. Itís so big they had to order a new bonnet made out of carbon fiber with a bulge to accommodate the intake, and the new bonnet will have an intake gap to direct air into the engineís air intake.

    Speaking of carbon, the panels are now carbon fiber, which saves around 30kg on this car. Doesnít sound like much, but considering the 1M is already around 150kg lighter than the E92 M3, this thing is going to go like a train.

    Oh, which reminds us, we havenít talked about the specs. The 4.0L V8 will be producing around 450 horsepower, which is 25 horsepower more compared to the current M3/M4, and all this power will be transferred through a six-speed manual gearbox. Adam said that manuals are more exciting, theyíre more fun, thatís why theyíre keeping it manual. Mr. Hans is also the sort of person that likes manual gearbox, as it is more exciting, and more engaging. We agree that manuals are more exciting, but in a car this small with this much power? We call it terrifying, and speaking of terrifying, Mr. Hans said that they can still fit a stroker kit for this engine, which can take the power up to around 500 horsepower.

    The interior meanwhile has semi-bucket seats from Recaro, with a customized speedometer and a steering wheel from Manhart. Itís not done yet at the moment, and there will be a new screen fitted in the car Ė replacing the middle-right air conditioning vent Ė to show the carís status such as how much power and torque youíre using, the oil pressure, and all sorts of things to give it a sense that this is a modified car and not just a normal BMW 1M.

    However, ART will still fit in the rear seats, so that it remains practical and you can take up to four people to experience the terror that is the BMW Manhart MH1 CSL. That said, this is not just some BMW 1M with a bigger engine, the true goal of ART with this car is so that it still feels like a normal BMW. Although weíre not sure in what way that this would be normal.

    Anyway, Mr. Hans wants this car to work properly just like any normal BMW, and wants this car to feel like itís a factory-made vehicle. They want this car to feel like it was made by an in-house tuner, such as cars from BMW M and AMG, which by the way, is the long-term goal for ART.

    ďWe want this car to be like any BMW, you can take it to any BMW workshop, or other authorized shop, and they can service it, they can repair it.Ē Mr. Hans said.

    The idea is that this is just going to be like any other BMW, you can take it to a BMW workshop, and they can service it as if it were, say, a BMW M3. The mechanics there can plug it in to their computers and would be like diagnosing and fixing a normal BMW, hence the need to do the CAN bus and CAS coding. The goal is so that it won't be a fragile beast that requires certain delicate hands to handle it.

    This is what differentiates ART from other garages and tuners in Indonesia, not only they want to modify cars, they want their cars to be built with precision and quality, as if it were done by in-house tuners, if not the manufacturers themselves. They want the cars to work properly, no rattling suspension or bodywork, no constant error messages, none of that unreliable project car kind of thing.

    ďWe are no longer just a workshop that tunes cars, we are creating cars at a factory-level.Ē said Mr. Hans, as he emphasize his vision for ART

    Take this BMW E30 M3 for example, a project they did in collaboration with Piper Motorsports a while back. Itís fitted with an engine that BMW hadnít even thought of making when they made the E30 M3, so itís definitely not for the M3.

    Thatís why the project took four years to complete, and if you look inside the M3, itís not some uncomfortable race car with a hollow interior; it still has pretty much everything that the original M3 had, with a few buttons and knobs added and it looks like something that BMW would make if they were to do this, albeit with a roll cage but thatís fully functional and necessary.

    Back to the MH1 CSL, the project is almost done. The engine is running, the electrical stuff are almost all sorted out, so itís now just smaller details such as the interior and other small bits that need to be installed.

    It may not be as complicated as the E30 M3 project, but itís still nothing short of an amazing technical achievement from ART, and the vision that Mr. Hans has for this MH1 CSL and for the future of Auto Racing Technik is ambitious, to say the least.

    We canít wait to see what the MH1 CSL will be like to drive, and just how exciting Ė and also terrifying Ė it will be. Mr. Hans warned us that we should wear a diaper when we test out this car, and we probably will.

    Click here if you want to know more about Auto Racing Technik.

    Photo by: Glen Sullivan, Hafizh Pratama