Engine, out…

2011/03/21 1 comment

A little more than a month ago I started to take apart the front of the car and the engine bay. Last Saturday, the 2.5L engine of my 325 xi finally came out. We encountered very little resistance in the process. Of course there was some minor things bugging us but nothing is perfect anyway.

Here is a few things I had problem with :

  • The bolts holding together the manifold and the exhaust were rusted and melted beyond possible. I had to use a grinder to cut trough.
  • If it’s true that you can remove the engine by lifting it up, it was easier for us to lift the car and drop the engine by unbolting the engine support rack completely.
  • Most of the rotating drive train parts use inverted torks type bolts that not all home garage have in their toolbox :)
  • There is a lot of fluid in these engine and NOT a lot of space to work.
  • Detaching the headlight washer was weird… Had to pull a lot but this is how it’s done it seems.
  • M54 are complex, very complex. There is a million sensor and a gazillion little brace, support, bushing, etc…
  • We forgot to detach the sifter from the transmission before lowering the engine… Oups…

This is what went right :

  • Taking the front bumper and the hood completely out is the best way to go.
  • Dropping the engine instead of lifting it up was also a good idea.
  • We extracted the engine with the transmission and transfer case attached to it. All in one piece.
  • Many of the screws or bolts stay in places even when they are loose. Thank you BMW.
  • We didn’t touch the brake hose at all as they go over the engine on the firewall. Thank you again BMW.
  • Every screws and bolts have been put back to their original position reducing the risk of loosing something.
  • We have very few unrecoverable material beside things like the axle nuts and a few tie wraps. Nothing was broken or damage heavily.

Now, the M54 is sitting next to the BMW and I can start clean up and prepare for the LSx engine.

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The Project…

Spring is almost here so it’s time to get started on the build. This is the basic idea. My brother will be more than helping out because he already knows the LSx engine series pretty good.

The Goal : Fit a GM LSx engine in a BMW e46 while maintaining the impressive driving pleasure of a BMW.

It will not be easily achieve and I suspect it will take a lot of time since I don’t have access to the car everyday. Here is the list of incoming steps…

  1. Take apart the BMW motor compartment and remove the engine.
  2. Fit an GM LSx engine inside the BMW. This will obviously be a complex job.
  3. Rewire the electronic of the entire car and try to keep the BMW stock look as much as possible. And this… will be hell on earth.
  4. Replace the drive train with something that can survive the added torque.
  5. Test drive, tweak, etc…
  6. When all work, take the car apart and go for some body mods and new paint.

Choosing the LSx engine over BMW engines came naturally for us. First, we know these engine well. Second, they are generally cheap and pack a lot of power. Third, they are not overly complex in their operation and maintenance.

The exact engine and it’s specs has not been defined yet. LS1 and LS3 are the main options here. They both have great performance and a relatively low cost. They are both easy to upgrade and tweak too.

For the rear-end, since I want my BMW to keep driving like a BMW. So we will go with an independent suspension setup. I’m not sure if we will go with BMW differentials or one taken from a Cobra but there is many things to do before so I’m no worrying to much about it as of yet.

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325 Xi Touring

In the summer of 2007, I started having multiple problems with my car which was at the time a 2000 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP. So, before winter came along, I looked around to replace it and at the same time, maybe, try a different experience.

After a few week, my choice stopped on a 2003 BMW Xi Touring. The wagon format was wanted because I needed more space and the sedan version was not roomy enough. As for the look of it, today I see the Touring as an element of design slightly more rare an beautiful in it’s special way.

The car was in superb condition, with 65k km on the counter. It was sold to me by BMW themselves via their used car services. Right away I noticed many different behavior when comparing to the Grand Prix. Most of the good things was the fun of driving a BMW cannot be compared to any american car (except maybe the CTS-V or a Corvette…). But for all the fun it was on the road, in the sharp turns, it’s lack of power was noticeable, especially coming for the Grand Prix which had more torque.

In autumn of 2010, I decided to store the BMW in my father’s garage for a make-over. I had lot’s of fun in those 3 years and the car received some minor modifications like angle eyes, clear turn signals, LED’s and wheels. But it was time for something bigger.

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