2011 BMW 335i – One Of A Kind Meets Once In A Lifetime


If you're anything like us, you almost certainly don't possess the greatest luck. We've never won the lottery, not actually had a number of numbers surface. We've not won an automobile in a TV game show or been the winner in the Publishers Clearing House. And David Smit from Scottsdale, AZ was just like the rest of us, or at a minimum he was until winning Bilstein's Just Add Sweepstakes where he walked away with a fully modified BMW 335i!

The Sweepstakes gave entrants the opportunity to vote for that car they'd like to win. With a Ford Mustang GT and F150 among the three possible options, we didn't see the BMW winning.

Once In A Lifetim 2011 BMW 335i HRE P40SC wheel 01 Photo 2/12

If the BMW was chosen, for our part, we'd been asked to aid in the build and would again be working with GSR Autosport to finish it. Although with the two Fords having a strong following, we were confident we would sit this one out on the sidelines.

The Bilstein Just Add entrants were far more discerning than we'd given them credit, since it happens. They eschewed the domestic iron in favor of Bavaria's finest, so that we had to scramble to find certain parts pronto. With only a few weeks before SEMA 2013, if the car will be presented to David, there was no time to lose.

Fortunately, part of the selection process was done for us, with Sweepstakes contestants also being invited to decide on the suspension, wheels and graphicsat every corner, the 335i also has Brembo brakes, HRE wheels, Falken tires and some M3 suspension parts

You might choose between different set-ups, even though obviously, the suspension was easy, with Bilstein being the sole supplier. Unsurprisingly, the vote visited Bilstein's advanced B16 IRC system with Ridecontrol. Here is the German company's most advanced product, allowing the motorist to select different handling characteristics on their iPhone, preset them onto in-car change and buttons them on the fly. With everybody having an opportunity to win the automobile, the entrants were specifying the best possible equipment...

Similarly, there seemed to be a choice of HRE wheels, with attractive 19 P40SC rims being selected. And finally, there have been three possible graphics packages, with the vote going to the most conservative option, which we had to agree was the very best of the bunch.

The Build

GSR Autosport would build the 2011 BMW 335i at its facility in Lake Forest, CA. We'd previously worked together about the eBay Challenge, creating a rally-themed Porsche 911 for a charity auction at SEMA 2012. So, we knew they could work under pressure but were surprised they'd volunteer to place themselves under so much stress again.

After the way the eBay Challenge went, we didn't think the BMW would win, therefore we had a shock when we discovered there was only two weeks to construct the car, explained Michael Essa from GSR.

Here's the stock 2011 335i before GSR Autosport got its hands on it

Fortunately, the voters had done an effective job picking the right parts. They selected the very best wheels, most subtle graphics and the most sophisticated suspension, but we still had to assemble a package we'd be pleased with and David Smit would enjoy driving, continued GSR co-owner, Nick Richards.

The vehicle in question had been a 2011 E92 335i bought from rust-free Bakersfield, CA. As well as the time if the car was bought, it had an automatic transmission because nobody knew who the eventual winner would be and in case they could make use of a clutch, because of the nature in the sweepstakes. GSR didn't want to go crazy in that department anyway, although that placed a restriction on subsequent engine mods.

We wanted to build a civilized track car, Michael told us. That would be competitive on the track, although Something that would be comfortable and reliable enough for daily driving. So we put a lot of time in the chassis, using loads of good performance parts and M3 components to achieve our goal.

Even though the Bilstein B16 coilovers can be at the heart of the chassis, GSR ensured any driver could fully exploit their prowess. Since they found it necessary to loosen the back subframe to put the UUC Motorwerks rear sway bar, GSR chose to drop the subframe completely and replace the bushings, upper wishbones and upper guide rods with replacements from the BMW M3. GSR also fabricated a pair of toe-links for the rear to increase geometry adjustability.

In the beginning, they installed a second UUC sway bar with UUC drop links as well as M3 wishbones, uppers bushings and tension struts. We wanted to solidify the chassis to be able to showcase the Bilstein coilovers, Michael explained.

By turning a few laps at Streets of Willow to dial-in the suspensio, 2011 BMW 335i michael essa 09 Photo 5/12

So the springs and dampers were fitted, then a ride height and damper settings were finalized after a brief track test. An individual button was installed in the car, in which the driver uses to select Comfort, Normal or Sport. The base settings were dependant on Bilstein's engineers but the driver is able to study the damper performance in each mode thanks to data screens within the iPhone app, and then change the damping rates using the same app.

The app gives you usage of an array of information that affects the damper performance. You can then adjust them in real-time and save the settings, to be used at your convenience.

Of course, chassis upgrades involve more than just suspension, and Dave's 335i was equipped with Brembo's Gran Turismo braking system that used six-piston calipers up front and four-piston on the rear. These bite onto 345mm and 355mm cross-drilled rotors, respectively, ensuring plenty of stopping power when it's needed.

At each corner are the aforementioned HRE P40SC wheels finished in matte grey and measuring 19x9 at the steering end and 19x10 in the driving end. These were built with 245/35 and 275getting the keys from Michael Essa at SEMA 2013


The engine modifications would give GSR a new set of challenges - how to improve the performance without affecting reliability. The path they took was tested and tried, and helps to ensure everybody was happy.

The new components would include a Juice Box from Burger Tuning to intercept the ECU signals and raise the boost without triggering any check engine lights. It will be assisted by way of a cold-air intake from aFe and a cat-back Magnaflow Touring exhaust to boost the engine note. The latter would receive custom brushed steel tailpipes from GSR to differentiate it from the norm. Most of allin place

It's a genuinely quick car now, enthused Essa. It feels well balanced about the track, although In fact, it needs a limited-slip diff to help it get the power down. It's predictable at the limit and allows you to enjoy yourself, without it becoming a purpose-built racecar. Then you simply press some control and the suspension returns to Comfort for your drive home. It couldn't be a better solution for road and track use.

I was also impressed with just how the car hooks up off of the line and its stability exiting a corner, added Richards. I have an identical car of my own nevertheless it doesn't handle as well as this. Our modifications really paid off.


We knew the vehicle was getting its graphics package so didn't will need to go over the top on the exterior, Michael told us. As a result, they restricted themselves to genuine BMW M Sport bumpers - painted by Bell's Autosport in Huntington Beach, CA - before adding a carbon fiber front splitter and trunk spoiler from JL Motoring.

Accessory specialist Bimmian would be responsible for the important points, adding carbon fiber front grilles and rear diffuser. They would also supply each of the bulbs, including LEDs for the signals, DRLs, license plate and interior. Bimmian would even provide head- and tail light tint film to darken the lenses slightly.

2011 BMW 335i - One Of A Kind Meetse

Which covered the mirror caps - one of the hardest elements of the project because of the curved surfaces, the graphics were applied by GI Design. And GSR would complete the exterior with billet Bilstein badges coming from a company called Billet Badges.

Inside, the dash was laser-etched to learn Exclusively designed for Bilstein, and contains Essa's signature alongside it. There's also a set of pedals from bmwpedals.com plus a wrapped steering wheel from Stitch Crafters, that also covered the shift and e-brake boots in matching alcantara, all with blue stitching.

Other contributions included Mothers cleaning products, Royal Purple lubricants and oil filter, plus Denso spark plugs.

2011 BMW 335i - Extraordinary Meetse

So, all told, Dave Smit received his BMW 335i bought and tuned for $50,000, as well as tickets to attend the 2013 SEMA automotive show where he would receive his prize from Michael Essa before driving it home to Arizona.

We needed to ask if Dave intended to keep the car or throw it on eBay and he admitted to being not only a BMW fan, but in addition a regular reader of european car magazine. A Sports Utility Vehicle would probably become more useful to the family unit, but I love the car and can't wait to drive it, he enthused. I'm going to drive it around and see the way i get on by using it. I just can't believe I won it. When they called to tell me, I thought they were joking, after which assumed I'd won a suspension kit. It's taken a while for this to sink in that the vehicle is mine!

Clearly delighted with his BMW that cost him little more than the time to get into the Bilstein Sweepstakes, Dave will be the envy of all his friends and most of us. We simply hope he had the best sense to experience the lottery the day he found out he'd won!

2011 BMW 335i - Extraordinary Meets Once In A Lifetime

Tech Spec

2011 BMW 335i

Engine 3.0L N55 straight-six 24v turbo with Burger Tuning Juice Box, aFe cold-air intake, Magnaflow Touring cat-back exhaust with GSR brushed steel tailpipes, Evolution Racewerks Competition Series front-mount intercooler, Synapse Engineering Synchronic blow-off valve, Denso spark plugs, Royal Purple lubricants and oil filter

Drivetrain stock automatic

2011 BMW 335i engine cover 06 Photo 11/12

Brakes Brembo GT six-piston calipers, 355mm drilled rotors f, four-piston, 345mm r

Suspension Bilstein B16 coilovers with IRC Ridecontrol, UUC Moterwerks sway bars and front drop-links, GSR rear toe-links, BMW M3 rear subframe bushings, upper wishbones, upper guide rods, front wishbones, uppers bushings and tension struts

Wheels & Tires 19x9 f, 19x10 r HRE P40SC wheels, finished in matte grey, 245/35 R19 f, 275/30 R19 r Falken FK453 tires

Exterior BMW M Sport bumpers, JL Motoring carbon fiber front splitter and trunk spoiler, Bimmian carbon front grilles, rear diffuser, LED turn signals, DRLs, license plate bulbs, yellow foglight bulbs, tinted headlight and tail light film, GI Design graphics, billet Bilstein badge

Interior alcantara steering wheel, shift boot and e-brake boot with blue stitching, pedals covers, laser-etched dash, Bimmian LED lighting

Thanks gsrautosport.com, bilsteinus.com, Burger Tuning, Evolution Racewerks, Advanced Flow Engineering, Magnaflow and Denso Royal Purple,Bilstein and Brembo, UUC Moterwerks, HRE, Falken, JL Motoring, Bimmian, GI Design, Stitch Crafters, Billet Badges, Mothers