This V-8-Swapped BMW 1M Coupe Might Be The Perfect Driver’s Car - story fullscreen Fullscreen

This V-8-Swapped BMW 1M Coupe Might Be The Perfect Driver’s Car

Does a V-8 engine swap ruin the BMW 1M Coupe’s driving dynamics or does it enhance them? Mike Fernie from DriveTribe finds out

LISTEN 04:17

BMW’s slogan is “Sheer driving pleasure” and in reality, most of what has come from the brand’s M-division has managed to live up to those words. The BMW 1M Coupe, in particular, was praised by many, including Jeremy Clarkson, for being one of the best driver’s cars, ever made. However, someone decided that’s not good enough and tore out the 3.0-liter, turbocharged inline-six for a much bigger V-8. Is this individual insane or is he/she on to something? Mike Fernie from DriveTribe takes it for a spin to find out.

Is the BMW 1M Coupe a German Muscle car?

This V-8-Swapped BMW 1M Coupe Might Be The Perfect Driver's Car
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You would be forgiven for thinking it’s an LS swap, especially when you hear the idle. The Akrapovic exhaust does a good job giving the V-8 a throatier tone. In reality, what you see under the hood (bonnet) is the S65 4.0-liter V-8 from the BMW E92 M3. In the M3, the rev-happy V-8 is good for 414 horsepower at 8,300 RPM and 295 pound-feet (400 Nm) at 3,900 RPM. While the V-8 packs significantly more than the 1M’s original 335 horsepower, it actually loses torque 37 pound-feet (50 Nm) or 74 pound-feet (100 Nm), if we count the N54’s over-boost function.

This V-8-Swapped BMW 1M Coupe Might Be The Perfect Driver's Car
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That said, while the N54 earned the nickname the German 2JZ, it was known to be “spiky”, whereas the S65 V-8 is much more linear and way more responsive, being a naturally-aspirated, larger-displacement unit. Moreover, the S65 V-8 shares the same rough architecture as the S85 V-10, found in the E60 M5, which means it’s “a proper motorsport-derived engine”. In addition to the Akrapovic exhaust, the V-8 also benefits from K&N’s air intake kit, specific to this engine, so we have a few extra ponies to play with, in a car that’s lighter than the E92 M3.

Has the V-8 swap ruined the BMW 1 Series M Coupe?

This V-8-Swapped BMW 1M Coupe Might Be The Perfect Driver's Car
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Mike spends some time behind the wheel of the Bavarian Frankenstein to answer the question. The answer is a definitive no. The 4.0-liter V-8 may be bigger than the original 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six, but in reality, it’s physically no longer than the original unit, due to its V layout. We recently talked about an S85 V-10-swapped BMW E46 M3, which AutoTopNL drove, and that one felt and looked natural with the V-10 in it.

Mike assures us that the V-8 swap has not ruined the “famously sublime handling of the car”. The little 1M Coupe still handles great, due to no small part to an element, it shares with cars like the Lancia Stratos and Toyota GR Yaris – a short wheelbase and a wide stance. This allows the car to easily pivot around its center point. “Actually, all you have to do is initiate that change in direction, and then you’re on the throttle, doing whatever you want with it, really. No turbos to spool, no nothing”.

This V-8-Swapped BMW 1M Coupe Might Be The Perfect Driver's Car
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The beauty of a motorsport-derived V-8 in a small, nimble car with an excellent chassis. That pretty much summarizes the M3-powered BMW 1M Coupe. Earlier in the video, Mike described the car as an 85-scale M3 E92. After driving it, he concludes that this is the “1M CSL” or “1M GTS”, we never got. In the end, the 4.0-liter, normally-aspirated V-8 allows for a level of modulation and adjustability to the throttle input, we could only dream of, with the turbocharged inline-six.

While the inline-six engines in the normal 1M and the recent M3 are known for being “brown underwear-inducing weapons”, the S65 V-8 brings the noise and usability that make this project car something truly special”. The best part is that it’s attainable. The V-8-swapped BMW 1M Coupe costs around £30,000, all in. Mike reckons that if Clarkson, who had previously praised the 1M, sits behind the wheel of this one, it would be his new favorite. It certainly is my new favorite BMW.


Dim Angelov
Dim Angelov
Born in 1992, I come from a family of motoring enthusiasts. My passion for cars was awoken at the age of six, when I saw a Lamborghini Diablo SV in a magazine. After high school I earned a master’s degree in marketing and a Master of Arts in Media and Communications. Over the years, I’ve practiced and become skilled in precision driving and to date have test driven more than 250 cars across the globe. Over the years, I’ve picked up basic mechanical knowledge and have even taken part in the restoration of a 1964 Jaguar E-Type and an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint. Lately, I’ve taken a fancy to automotive photography, and while modern cars are my primary passion, I also have a love for Asian Martial Arts, swimming, war history, craft beer, historical weapons, and car restoration. In time, I plan my own classic car restoration and hope to earn my racing certificate, after which I expect to establish my own racing team.  Read full bio
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