What are collectables?
These are cars of particular interest, therefore deserving of preservation. Not necessarily old, they nevertheless exist in defined quantities, either because the manufacturer has decided so, or because their production is stopped. Then, they take advantage of features that make them especially desirable: an engine, a chassis, a design, or a concept. Finally, they are likely to see their rating increase. An additional argument to collect them before everyone else!
Why is the BMW 135i collectible?
Marking BMW’s return to small coupés (and convertibles), the 135i adds to the formula an ultra-efficient and very musical supercharged 6-cylinder in-line engine, which gives it exceptional performance. Admittedly, it has descendants, in the form of the M240i, but lo and behold, it has become horribly expensive: more than €70,000. Suddenly, the small 135i attracts enthusiasts and its rating goes up. Because yes, BMW delivering this approval at a still human price, it will never exist again.
When it appeared in 2004, the BMW 1 Series E87 greatly disconcerted with its design, the successful incarnation of the “flame surfacing” dear to Chris Bangle, design boss of the Bavarian brand. It may also have displeased with its tailgate, which prompted the manufacturer to offer it versions more in line with its image. Thus, in July 2007, it was revealed as a coupé, coded E82. The base does not move, but the body sports a more classic line with three volumes, therefore comprising a separate trunk. Longer by 13 cm than the hatchback, the Series 1 Coupé is 4.36 m long and thus accommodates a more spacious trunk of 20 l (370 l in total).
But it is still under the hood that is the most interesting. Indeed, the coupé accesses blocks forbidden to the coach, including a fabulous 6-in-line 3.0 l biturbo N54 with direct injection. Already seen in the 335i, it develops 306 hp in the 135i, which also shares many platform elements with the 3 Series: indeed, it was developed in common with the 1 Series.
This one, with this exceptional engine, reaches without forcing the 250 km/h (speed limited electronically) and passes the 100 km/h in 5.3 s. It therefore works very hard, and thus overshadows the M3! However, even if it is the only one in the Series 1 range to have fixed 6-piston front brake calipers, the 135i does indeed benefit from a firmer M Sport suspension: in a way an M light.
For example, it is not entitled to a real limited-slip differential, preferring an electronic system supposed to reproduce its effects. Moreover, unlike the other 1 Series since the 2007 restyling, it retains hydraulic power steering. Fitted with body accessories that fit well and 18 rims, it gives the impression that the body will creak under the effect of power.
Inside, the 135i offers dual-zone auto air conditioning, sports seats, sound system and even cruise control as standard. Three finishes are available: Excellis (€41,900, or current €47,800 according to INSEE), Luxury (€43,300) and Sport Design (€43,150). The Luxury offers leather in addition, the Sport Design the pretty exterior sports pack (but which leads to the omission of the reversing radar). A few months later, the Coupe 1 Series falls off the top and is available as a convertible.
Equipped with a canvas roof and not hard (as on the Series 3), the Series 1 Cabriolet weighs 115 kg compared to the coupe to maintain its rigidity, and adopts a leather supposed not to absorb the heat of the sun. Same discovery, the small BMW is entitled to block N52. For its part, the trunk shrinks but varies from 240 l to 280 l depending on whether the hood is folded (which takes 22 s) or not.
At the end of 2008, in the passenger compartment, the multimedia-GPS system went from DVD to hard disk (now fixed screen and no longer rotating). At the start of 2010, the Series 1 range benefited from a final round of improvements, starting with enlarged exterior mirrors and modified xenon headlamps.
Under the hood, the 6-cylinder is improved. Now coded N55, it swaps the two turbos for a single but dual input, while the variable valve timing and electronic management are optimized. The power and the couple do not vary, but in option, a box DKG with double clutch (and 7 reports/ratios) replaces the old automatic with 6 reports/ratios. In 2013, the coupé and the convertible left production, well after the 3 and 5 door coaches, replaced by the 2 Series.
How much does it cost ?
From €15,000, there are convertibles with automatic gearbox in good condition, but with a total of more than 150,000 km. Manual transmission versions easily cost €2,000 more, to which you add another €2,000 (a total of €19,000) for a coupé in the same mileage zone. Add €4,000 for a car with around 100,000 km. Rarer, phases 2 easily require an additional €2,000. Note that these values are on the rise.
Which version to choose?
Between coupe and convertible, it’s a matter of taste. But a manual phase 1 coupe is a good price/performance/efficiency compromise, provided it has been well maintained.
These are the copies in perfect original condition (rare), with low mileage (very rare), and if possible, full of options. These can significantly vary the price.
What to monitor?
Block N54 suffered quite a bit of damage at the start of its career. High pressure pump, injectors, turbos and discharge valves (or wastegate) have experienced many failures! To which we can add worries about damage to the Vanos solenoids, water pump, and oil leaks under the camshaft cover. Normally, all this is resolved on well-maintained cars, as evidenced by some examples with very high mileage. Of course, cars that have undergone preparation will be more likely to break than others.
The N55 fixed the boost and fueling issues, but still suffers from split intake manifolds and even faulty coils. Nothing bad. Frequent oil changes (every 10,000 km maximum) are recommended. On the gearbox side, again, the oil must be changed well before 100,000 km.
In the passenger compartment, the DVD multimedia system (CCC) has a lot of bugs, even failures: to be watched. For the rest, the cockpit is aging well.
In short, the 135i requires rigorous maintenance and respectful use, and that is relatively rare…
The face of the Series 1 E82 still appeals as much, and behind the wheel, you can enjoy a perfect driving position and an excellent seat. From the start, we are won over by the sound of the engine and the pleasure of the manual gearbox. Then, the N54 reveals the extent of its talents. It packs a punch at all revs, loves to take turns and delivers consistently amazing performances, in one of the most pleasing vocals. He always asks for more: what an engine!
The chassis is not on the same level. Let’s get along, it is safe, precise and healthy. But at the limit, the direction no longer communicates enough, and on the bumps, the damping remains insufficient, while the suspension, firm, tends to shake the passengers. The result is a road behavior lacking in efficiency in sporty driving, and clearly understeering at the limit, but quite suitable the rest of the time. We would have liked to have a real limited-slip differential to counteract the tendency of the nose to slip, but that’s reserved for the 1M!
Fortunately, the 135i brakes hard and for a long time, at least for a BMW of that era… Finally, consumption: the car is very sensitive to what you do with the accelerator, supercharging obliges. We can stay around 8.5 l / 100 km by rolling cushy, or reach 14 l / 100 km by attacking a little. Be that as it may, on a daily basis, this German delivers an unusual pleasure!
The youngtimer alternative
BMW 2002 Tii (1971-1975)
Obviously, the 135i, in spirit, is closer to the 2002 Turbo, but it costs 100,000 € at the very least! Much more affordable, the 2002 Tii does not lack power, however, with its 2.0 l injection developing 130 hp. It is close to 190 km / h, and crosses 100 km / h in just over 9 s. Even now, those lap times are respectable, and mean the car is very lively. It must also be said that it weighs only 990 kg! Healthy in the dry, it demands attention in the wet, and if reliable, it rusts copiously. Hence the price of fine copies: around €35,000.
BMW 135i (2008), the technical sheet
- Engine: 6-cylinder in line, 2979 cc
- Power supply: direct injection, two turbos
- Suspension: McPherson struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar (AV); multi-link axle, coil springs anti-roll bar (rear)
- Transmission: manual or automatic 6-speed gearbox, rear-wheel drive
- Power: 306 hp at 5,800 rpm
- Torque: 400 Nm at 1,300 rpm
- Weight: 1485kg
- Max speed: 250 km/h (limited)
- 0 to 100 km/h: 5.3 s (manufacturer data)
To find BMW 135i ads, go to the La Centrale website.