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Posts: 331

Location: Canada Brantford
Occupation: Detail Whore
Age: 27
#2371   2010-05-23 18:55          
Reborn: My S54-Powered E36

Just over 3 years ago, 3 years and 8 days ago to be exact, I bought an S54 from a guy down in Georgia. For those of you who said I'd never finish it, this is for you.


I was told time and time again that I was wasting my time, money, effort, etc… or that S54 swaps had been done, or that I should have had it done in a couple of months. Seeing as it has been 3 years and I've still yet to see anyone else pop up with a swap quite like mine, we can discuss whether or not ya'll were wrong yet ;).

The car runs on the factory E46 DME. My main goal going in to this swap was to do it as if BMW had done it. I didn't hack up my harness to make this happen. The entire E36 body harness is in tact, and mates to the E46 harness through the factory connectors. Everything is seamlessly integrated, with the car now running the E46 gauge cluster. The primary difference between a factory swap and mine would be (quite obviously) the velocity stacks.

I'm sure there are going to be countless members here claiming I've voided the point of the swap… that I'm just sucking in hot air, that BMW's engineers did it right the first time. That's all fine and dandy, but a dyne graph will prove otherwise. 30-50WHP+ gains over a factory S54… and that's on a Dyno Dynamics dyno- no DynoJet BS. Combining the rest of the mods and what we've got is one delightfully quick, insane sounding E36.

What might be as equally noteworthy to the motor is the suspension. When the car went under the knife, it went under with Bilstein PSS9 Coilovers.
The car now sits on something far more specialized. Last year, we approached AST suspension, known for building some phenomenal race suspensions, and said we want a coilover engineered for "low".

What we got was was greater than imagined. AST took their track proven suspension and shortened it substantially. The shortened housings combined with unique struts valved for stiffer springs, we've got what is essentially built a coilover for "stance".

Words can't describe the quality, the ride, the handling. Go on and suggest I've ruined the car with imperfect suspension geometry and stretched tires. For those of who you do care- there's no better E36 suspension out there as far as I am concerned. I'm merely halfway down, with gobs of travel and a car that rides like a sports car is supposed to. No jarring, no banging, no roughness.

We're calling the suspension StanceWorks: Zero Clearance by AST. If you're interested in a set, PM me.

The wheels are 17x8.5 and 17x10 OZ Mercedes AMG Aeros. They might not be to everyone's taste, but the moment I saw them I knew i had to have them. Rotiform refinished them, color-matching the centers and high-polishing the lips and installing new hardware. Most importantly, they did a killer job re-drilling them from 5x112 to 5x120. No adapters or spacers here… just phenomenal offsets.

There's a LOT of work left to do on the car… I've got a long way to take it and this is only the start… but its a joy to have my car back. The car drives better than imaginable, like a factory car is supposed to. It handles, it accelerates, it looks proper. Best of all, it sounds like an F1 car tuned for the street. I couldn't be more pleased, and I offer all of those who doubt the above a ride in the car to see for yourself.

First, my biggest thanks goes to Erik Rumbaugh. You know what role you played, no need to sell it. I appreciate it man.
There's my parents. They put up with it and have really helped make it happen.
Rotiform for the wheel refinishing.
Rob Levinson for helping me out on some parts.
Huuuuuge thanks to WagenWerks and AWOL for making the video, undoubtedly the best way to cap this build.

And a special thanks to Fluid MotorUnion. Without you guys, this car wouldn't be where it is today…. and it wouldn't be the best damn sounding BMW ever.

Once again, for the unobservant,CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO!