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E46 (1999 - 2006)
The fourth generation 3 Series (E46 chassis) was introduced in 1999 and set the standard for engineering and performance during it's years of production including being named to Car & Driver's 10 best list every one of those years! ! -- View the E46 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 10-06-2019, 10:19 AM
McLarenBMW McLarenBMW is offline
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How would the M54 perform with high performance modifications like:
- Cold Air Intake
- ECU Tune
- High Performance Intake Manifold
- Performance Camshafts/Pistons
- Catback Exhaust/Headers
- Lightweight Flywheel
- High Performance Clutch
- Richer Fuel etc
I know BMW engines are built to be smooth but what if, you know?

Last edited by McLarenBMW; 10-07-2019 at 03:51 PM.
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Old 10-06-2019, 11:47 AM
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It already has cold air intake from factory. Should have serious skills and money for complete rebuild, but much can be done.
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Old 10-06-2019, 12:24 PM
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It already has cold air intake from factory. Should have serious skills and money for complete rebuild, but much can be done.
Might be a losing battle spending money trying to turn the M54 into the S54 tho
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Old 10-06-2019, 01:10 PM
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Have you ever built a homologated engine, an engine built to class specifications? To babble about a cold air intake and "richer fuel" suggests considerable naivety.

The first requirement of a racing engine is reliability, to come in first first one must finish.
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Last edited by Doug Huffman; 10-06-2019 at 01:11 PM.
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Old 10-06-2019, 01:22 PM
McLarenBMW McLarenBMW is offline
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Originally Posted by Doug Huffman View Post
Have you ever built a homologated engine, an engine built to class specifications? To babble about a cold air intake and "richer fuel" suggests considerable naivety.

The first requirement of a racing engine is reliability, to come in first first one must finish.
I was just dropping basic performance mods off the top of my head, why don't you tell us what you think?
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Old 10-06-2019, 06:31 PM
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I was just dropping basic performance mods off the top of my head, why don't you tell us what you think?
Because you are at least the ten-thousandth guy to pursue this exact line, only to find out that no, there is very little to be squeezed out of the M54 engine, they are pretty well maxxed-out from the factory. Not that long ago, one horsepower per cubic inch was considered "the magic number" for any high-performance engine, the M54 produces 225 (235 for ZHPs) from only 182 cubic inches....pretty good accomplishment
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Old 10-06-2019, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug Huffman View Post
Have you ever built a homologated engine, an engine built to class specifications? To babble about a cold air intake and "richer fuel" suggests considerable naivety.

The first requirement of a racing engine is reliability, to come in first first one must finish.
Right, if talking about racing, as if want to win something, then should know class specifications already before choosing car.
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Old 10-07-2019, 06:34 AM
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First and foremost, take a look at the link in my signature. It's an approximation of each item and you have to remember that the power gains DO NOT STACK. This means if you get an ECIS intake (which actually DOES pull colder intake temperatures while in motion) and headers, you won't see a 22 WHP gain (give or take). You'll probably only see 17 WHP, the majority of that from headers.

If you want a true race engine, talk to VAC Motorsports. Those guys are unbelievable when it comes to engines. They can make your 3.0L M54B30 churn out something like 150 WHP per litre of engine displacement. However, you're going to sacrifice street-worthy driving for a high-revving, twitchy throttle, extremely tight tolerance race engine. It will not do well putting around town. It's mean to either be idling or going wide-open throttle. You can't have both.

If you want a little more pep in your step, look at doing headers, an ECIS intake (if you can find one... eBay sells a knockoff version, but it has an aluminum intake tube rather than rubber, so you'll have to wrap it in some kind of insulation), a single 3" exhaust, a custom tune, and a Gripforce 16 lb. flywheel and Stage 1 clutch combo (the 16 lb. is still easy to drive and reduces rotational mass by roughly 36%; first and second gear will feel a lot stronger). All in all, this will cost you somewhere around $2,000 and you'll see a gain of about 17 WHP.

If you have the extra cash to spend, you can always get 264/248 Schrick cams for the low, low price of $1,300. These with the other mods above, bigger injectors, and a CUSTOM tune, you can probably hit about 25 WHP gained.

Add a VAC Motorsports Stage 2 cylinder head in the mix and you'll see a somewhat decent power gain through the entire rev range (THIS is what makes your car truly faster) as well as a little extra up top. However, their Stage 2 cylinder head is just over $2,000.

In summary, you have four options:

1) Get a few bolt-on goodies, enjoy the extra 15 WHP, and call it a day.
2) Spend $7,000+ on lots of performance hardware and see a gain of maybe 30 WHP.
3) Spend $7,000+ to add forced induction to your car. On a low-boost application (6 PSI), you'll probably see about an 80 WHP gain.
4) Sell your car and buy an E82 128i or 135i (it's closer to an E46 than the E92 328i or 335i). Yes... the 128i can hit 260-ish WHP with bolt-on stuff. It's nuts.

I hope this helps some.
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  #9  
Old 10-07-2019, 07:26 AM
McLarenBMW McLarenBMW is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SPDSKTR View Post
First and foremost, take a look at the link in my signature. It's an approximation of each item and you have to remember that the power gains DO NOT STACK. This means if you get an ECIS intake (which actually DOES pull colder intake temperatures while in motion) and headers, you won't see a 22 WHP gain (give or take). You'll probably only see 17 WHP, the majority of that from headers.

If you want a true race engine, talk to VAC Motorsports. Those guys are unbelievable when it comes to engines. They can make your 3.0L M54B30 churn out something like 150 WHP per litre of engine displacement. However, you're going to sacrifice street-worthy driving for a high-revving, twitchy throttle, extremely tight tolerance race engine. It will not do well putting around town. It's mean to either be idling or going wide-open throttle. You can't have both.

If you want a little more pep in your step, look at doing headers, an ECIS intake (if you can find one... eBay sells a knockoff version, but it has an aluminum intake tube rather than rubber, so you'll have to wrap it in some kind of insulation), a single 3" exhaust, a custom tune, and a Gripforce 16 lb. flywheel and Stage 1 clutch combo (the 16 lb. is still easy to drive and reduces rotational mass by roughly 36%; first and second gear will feel a lot stronger). All in all, this will cost you somewhere around $2,000 and you'll see a gain of about 17 WHP.

If you have the extra cash to spend, you can always get 264/248 Schrick cams for the low, low price of $1,300. These with the other mods above, bigger injectors, and a CUSTOM tune, you can probably hit about 25 WHP gained.

Add a VAC Motorsports Stage 2 cylinder head in the mix and you'll see a somewhat decent power gain through the entire rev range (THIS is what makes your car truly faster) as well as a little extra up top. However, their Stage 2 cylinder head is just over $2,000.

In summary, you have four options:

1) Get a few bolt-on goodies, enjoy the extra 15 WHP, and call it a day.
2) Spend $7,000+ on lots of performance hardware and see a gain of maybe 30 WHP.
3) Spend $7,000+ to add forced induction to your car. On a low-boost application (6 PSI), you'll probably see about an 80 WHP gain.
4) Sell your car and buy an E82 128i or 135i (it's closer to an E46 than the E92 328i or 335i). Yes... the 128i can hit 260-ish WHP with bolt-on stuff. It's nuts.

I hope this helps some.
So I was right, I would essentially be spending money converting an M54 to S54 with less power anyway lol
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  #10  
Old 10-07-2019, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by McLarenBMW View Post
So I was right, I would essentially be spending money converting an M54 to S54 with less power anyway lol
If you're spending the money to "convert" it to an S54, you'll make more power, but the car will essentially be undriveable because it's now a dedicated race engine.

Here's a thread on a guy who built an M54B30 to 356 WHP: https://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/s...es-on-M54-head

Again, that is a straight-up race engine and isn't really suitable for the street. And he probably spent more money on that car than what all the cars in my driveway are worth combined.

You could swap in an S54, but you'll probably spend as much money doing that as you would putting a supercharger or turbo on your car.
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Old 10-07-2019, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by McLarenBMW View Post
So I was right, I would essentially be spending money converting an M54 to S54 with less power anyway lol
If you're spending the money to "convert" it to an S54, you'll make more power, but the car will essentially be undriveable because it's now a dedicated race engine.

Here's a thread on a guy who built an M54B30 to 356 WHP: https://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/s...es-on-M54-head

Again, that is a straight-up race engine and isn't really suitable for the street. And he probably spent more money on that car than what all the cars in my driveway are worth combined.

You could swap in an S54, but you'll probably spend as much money doing that as you would putting a supercharger or turbo on your car.
It seems like swapping in an S54 would be cheaper than throwing money at an M54 tho
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Old 10-07-2019, 11:44 AM
SPDSKTR SPDSKTR is offline
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The whole thing is that naturally aspirated BMWs cost a pretty big chunk of money if you want them to go fast. The previous owner put the supercharger on my car. I'm willing to bet the whole setup cost him upwards of $10K after installation. On top of that, he added TC Klein coilovers (probably a $1,400 setup), OZ Alleggerita wheels (roughly $600 a piece), and Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 tires (about $250 a piece).

The CHEAPEST thing for you to do if you want a faster car is to sell your car and buy a 135i or 335i. However, maintenance will probably get you if you get an N54 engine. N55 engines aren't quite as bad, but parts are definitely more expensive than the M54.
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Old 10-07-2019, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by SPDSKTR View Post
The whole thing is that naturally aspirated BMWs cost a pretty big chunk of money if you want them to go fast. The previous owner put the supercharger on my car. I'm willing to bet the whole setup cost him upwards of $10K after installation. On top of that, he added TC Klein coilovers (probably a $1,400 setup), OZ Alleggerita wheels (roughly $600 a piece), and Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 tires (about $250 a piece).

The CHEAPEST thing for you to do if you want a faster car is to sell your car and buy a 135i or 335i. However, maintenance will probably get you if you get an N54 engine. N55 engines aren't quite as bad, but parts are definitely more expensive than the M54.
But I wanna know the HP gain for throwing those simple mods on the M54. Can a CAI, ECU Tune and Headers bump the HP up to 260? aFE claims that their intake offers an additional 20HP

Last edited by McLarenBMW; 10-07-2019 at 03:52 PM.
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Old 10-07-2019, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by McLarenBMW View Post
But I wanna know the HP gain for throwing those simple mods on the M54. Can a CAI, ECU Tune and Headers bump the HP up to 260? aFE claims that their intake offers an additional 20HP
AGAIN, performance mods are not cumulative. Claims tend to be on the exxagerated side, like absolutely perfect atmospheric conditions, and a 120 mph tailwind. There are MANY documentated cases of guys such as yourself spending 4 or 5 grand on all those "go-fast" goodies, only to realize a 15-20 RWHP increase. Are you familiar with The Law Of Diminishing Returns ?
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Old 10-07-2019, 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by McLarenBMW View Post
But I wanna know the HP gain for throwing those simple mods on the M54. Can a CAI, ECU Tune and Headers bump the HP up to 260? aFE claims that their intake offers an additional 20HP
maybe. Most ZHP's with headers, cai, tune and pulleys only put 220-230 to the wheels. So thats probably 260 at the crank.

A normal 330 probably wont get there. BUT, all is not lost. if you have a 6 speed manual, a 3.46 or 3.62 rear diff will add a ton of acceleration help and make that 225HP 330 FEEL a LOT faster. If you have a 5 speed manual, 3.38 rear diff is about as high as Id go and even then anything over 70mph will be a LOT of RPM for cruising.

My old ZHP had 3.46 diff, headers and intake and was pretty fast, 0-60 was sub 5.5 seconds.

Everybody is playing with boost nowadays, it was nitrous back in my day. Power adders are fun, but come at a cost and you end up in the trap of "never enough". Been there, done that. If it is a daily driver you need to reserve to the fact that the E46 isn't built for BRUTAL acceleration. But it can, and will out run more powerful cars thanks to its brakes and handling.
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Old 10-07-2019, 10:12 PM
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But I wanna know the HP gain for throwing those simple mods on the M54. Can a CAI, ECU Tune and Headers bump the HP up to 260? aFE claims that their intake offers an additional 20HP
That was a good laugh. Marketing fairy dust.

You might be better off buying a 2011 328i with a 4 cyl turbo than throwing all that cash on an old car that will be what it always was: a 330 with 230ish horsepower.

I was driving the 330cic top down tonight. Boy what a smooth and seamless power delivery. Not fast, but so nice and an absolute pleasure to drive.
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Old 10-08-2019, 10:45 AM
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There was a dyno sheet posted on E46Fanatics a while back where the guy had cams, a tune, a single 3" exhaust, headers, an 8 lb. flywheel, and an intake. Basically, every basic bolt-on thing you can get. I want to say he might have been pushing 235 WHP. It was sad, really. He dropped a LOT of money into that car and didn't really have much to show for it, other than that he could slightly outrun stock E46's.

I can't remember where it was and I'm having trouble finding it.
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Old 10-08-2019, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by SPDSKTR View Post
There was a dyno sheet posted on E46Fanatics a while back where the guy had cams, a tune, a single 3" exhaust, headers, an 8 lb. flywheel, and an intake. Basically, every basic bolt-on thing you can get. I want to say he might have been pushing 235 WHP. It was sad, really. He dropped a LOT of money into that car and didn't really have much to show for it, other than that he could slightly outrun stock E46's.

I can't remember where it was and I'm having trouble finding it.
Thanks, this is what I wanted to know. So give or take 260HP can be made with those mods
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Old 10-08-2019, 12:01 PM
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Thanks, this is what I wanted to know. So give or take 260HP can be made with those mods
Or, to be more accurate, you will realize a net gain of (probably) approx. 30 RWHP beyond whatever you started with....
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Old 10-08-2019, 01:59 PM
SPDSKTR SPDSKTR is offline
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Thanks, this is what I wanted to know. So give or take 260HP can be made with those mods
You're missing the point, amigo. Let me break it down for you...
  • Schrick 264/248 cams - $1,300
  • Custom single 3" exhaust - ~$600
  • Catless headers - $100. Actually closer to $500 if you have a shop install them.
  • ECIS intake - No idea what they sell for now. Maybe $250?
  • Injectors - $360, give or take.
  • Underdrive pulleys - $200
  • Custom tune to make it all work - Varies, but let's say $600.

Grand total? $3,810 for maybe 35 WHP gained.

So now you're out almost $4,000 and a Nissan 350Z will still smoke you.
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Old 10-08-2019, 02:17 PM
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You're missing the point, amigo. Let me break it down for you...
  • Schrick 264/248 cams - $1,300
  • Custom single 3" exhaust - ~$600
  • Catless headers - $100. Actually closer to $500 if you have a shop install them.
  • ECIS intake - No idea what they sell for now. Maybe $250?
  • Injectors - $360, give or take.
  • Underdrive pulleys - $200
  • Custom tune to make it all work - Varies, but let's say $600.

Grand total? $3,810 for maybe 35 WHP gained.

So now you're out almost $4,000 and a Nissan 350Z will still smoke you.
Damn skippy, my boy.... The Law Of Diminishing Return is a universal constant which cannot be denied....
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Old 10-08-2019, 02:32 PM
McLarenBMW McLarenBMW is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McLarenBMW View Post
Thanks, this is what I wanted to know. So give or take 260HP can be made with those mods
You're missing the point, amigo. Let me break it down for you...
  • Schrick 264/248 cams - $1,300
  • Custom single 3" exhaust - ~$600
  • Catless headers - $100. Actually closer to $500 if you have a shop install them.
  • ECIS intake - No idea what they sell for now. Maybe $250?
  • Injectors - $360, give or take.
  • Underdrive pulleys - $200
  • Custom tune to make it all work - Varies, but let's say $600.

Grand total? $3,810 for maybe 35 WHP gained.

So now you're out almost $4,000 and a Nissan 350Z will still smoke you.
No I agree with you, it is a waste of money. I just wanted to know if ANY HP could be gained at all
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Old 10-08-2019, 08:35 PM
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No I agree with you, it is a waste of money. I just wanted to know if ANY HP could be gained at all
Headers and gears are the best mods you can feel. Or drop,$2500-$3000 fo a used S/C kit and gain 80-100hp.
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Old 10-09-2019, 06:14 AM
SPDSKTR SPDSKTR is offline
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Headers and gears are the best mods you can feel. Or drop,$2500-$3000 fo a used S/C kit and gain 80-100hp.
You could do a budget turbo setup for $3,000 and gain 120 WHP...
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Old 10-09-2019, 01:18 PM
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You could do a budget turbo setup for $3,000 and gain 120 WHP...
Yep, but I have yet to see a turbo setup that was as reliable as a S/C for these cars.
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