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I keep thinking about how nice it would be to have a built NA straight 6 that IMO sounds better than the S54
That resonates with me. Of my vehicles, the E46 is the only one I want back. If I could have walked into a dealership and purchased a new one with updated tech, I would have. I only sold it because I got to the point where it was, either spend buckets of money getting it up to snuff for the next 150K miles, or move on. Being a year out of law school meant newer/reliable transportation was the responsible/safe decision. Of course though the E92 that replaced it was a basket case.

Anyways, as far as power goes if you want any appreciable power increase, an S/C is really the only answer. But, i don't think this car needs that type of power. The stock M54 never left me wishing I had more power quite frankly. I did have dreams of doing a full N/A build to make a beautiful screamer though. Maybe get it somewhere in the realm of 250-300WHP N/A; that to me is perfect. That said, I'm not a fan of swaps, and i think if you want to go LS you're better off just buying a car with one in it already.

Sounds like you have some attachment to the vehicle as well, this makes it all the more worth it to make it a revived e46, not into some Frankenstein, and hold on to it. In the long term, a clean example with a warmed over I6 is going to get the looks, not an LS.

My vote is thus warm over the I6, and keep for a long time. I think eventually the E46 will be sought after similarly to the E30, whereas I think for the E36 and E92 gens, it will only be the M cars that keep peoples interest. And if it isnt, you still have a wonderful driver's car that was built in an era where tech had creeped into improve cars and add safety, but not yet taken over and isolated the driver.
 

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Idk, I don't view the non M E46 as a sacred chassis. I do quite like the M54 and my 5 year plan is to get a 3.0 and do the mods I suggested to the OP. But I like to see creative swaps like this. I do think these cars need 6 cylinders at least, an SR20 would be a little weird imo, but a VQ is fine. Plus they seemed to be from New Zealand where I don't imagine there's too many LSs laying around
Look, to each their own, and the NZ thing makes a little more sense. I hadn't realized that. My commentary has nothing to do with the sacredness of the car, just why go through the effort for a VQ. It's a fine engine, but its just fine nothing special. I'd sooner do a N54 swap than that.
 

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So, the pump, rack, lines, reservoir, boots and tie rod ends will all be replaced along with the oil pan and gasket. It's the most economical way of doing things and I can at least assume/plan to not have the car for a few weeks over winter.
Steering coupling/guibo while you're in there, do it.

 
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Not worth installing a 263k transmission. No way.

That said...for $200...how do you feel about doing a rebuild? Depending on what is inside, you could end up with effectively a brand new transmission for like $400 and a couple weekends.

edit: Also, I don't know your junkyard, but I'll bet a "c'mon man...263k" would get you that transmission for $175. 😜
This was my thought as well, 250K miles is a no go. But at that price a rebuild could be in the cards for substantially less than a transmission that would still have 100K+
 

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I should also mention a couple of other things:

I'm going back to the stock intake. Over at the nerdory on E46Fanatics I've found overwhelming evidence that it's very hard to beat the stock intake for air temps. So over the past couple of months I've been pilfering parts from junked cars.

I just received a $150 refund for the hackjob install of the dashcam. $250 would've been nicer but in the past 3 weeks this guy has gotten some really bad Google reviews so I think it's time to retire.
I remember doing enough digging and coming to the same conclusion. Throw a K&N filter in there, they were pretty cheap for the E46 IIRC. Really upped the induction noise, which on that straight 6 is where the magic sound is moreso than the tailpipe.
 

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Yep. I did the aFe thing for a bit. While it sounded good there was no real improvement in power, not noticeable anyways.

I got a stock airbox on eBay for $150 that even came with a MAF.

Then I went ahead and listened to a stock air filter again and I wanted just a hair more. At that point I ordered a drop in oil-less aFe filter and threw it in the stock box, sounds great and retains all the good parts of the stock box.

This is the filter I went with fwiw. BMW Magnum FLOW Pro DRY S Air Filter - aFe 31-10015
I hear good things about aFe, but never went that route because they seem to charge 40% more for the same stuff K&N offers. The K&N filter is $50 vs the $88 for the aFe.

And before the whole dry v oiled filter debate starts, I had that filter in the car from approximately 80K miles till when I sold it at ~160K, no issues. The MAF was replaced prior to the filter being installed as part of a once over on the car when I bought it from a BHPH lot.
 

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Word of caution on the LED tails, as far as I'm aware there is no way to replace the LED's individually. If one fails, the only fix is replacing the entire tail. I remember having to replace both of mine because the LED's were starting to go out.

Now, that said, you're clearly fairly handy so perhaps you can macgueyver a work around. Either way, I'd test to see all the LED's illuminate prior to finalizing an install.
 

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Go on the trip, and to quote Jeremy Clarkson, "...you idiot."

The car will clearly still be here one way or the other.

On another note, it sounds to me like you should buy a daily. I can relate to the feeling of being in love yet bored with a car because its the only car you have. Even with my current car, a few days away, or a long drive in someone else's car typically renews my interest in my own vehicle. 10 years with only 1 vehicle is a long time, get a daily and take things with the E46 slow.

Then return to tackling things one at a time.

FWIW, body should be last, and certainly stay away from any kits. That money is better spent rolling and pulling the fenders as much as they reasonably can be.
 

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Yeah, black interior looks much better. I'm interested to see the grey contrast with everything else in there.

I assume you have somewhere else to do the mechanical work?
 

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It really does. It's changed the entire feel of the car. It feels more grown up if that makes sense.

And yeah, I'm actually not entire sure what to do about the remaining gray stuff. I need new kick panels for drivers and passenger side, but the center console being gray may bother me. I could buy a new black one, but the plastic ages so poorly that I've been considering having it vinyl wrapped black.

As far as the A/B/C pillars and headliner? Well I just replaced the pillar covers but my headliner is sagging. Now that the car has black carpet I was thinking about a sunroof delete and black Alcantara wrapped headliner.



Although my mechanical confidence increases with every job I do, I won't be tackling the oil pan/steering/intake stuff. I'm going to take my car to a local BMW specialty shop that can do that stuff for me.
I'm a sunroof guy, so I'd want to keep it assuming it's still in working order, but I like your plan as well. Having had an E46 w/ all black, I vote for consistency because I do think the grey may stand out a bit much. No idea how well vinyl wrapping will work though.
 
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But...it's really heavy and raises the center of gravity. I don't use it all that much, and really as time goes on I'll likely be using this car less and less. Plus...cool points for a carbon fiber sunroof plug.
I mean, are you going to be using this as a time attack car? If not, that 20-50lbs isn't going to be noticable. Now...if you're gonna replace the whole roof skin with a carbon fiber piece, that is another story. just a plug? I'd keep the glass.

My thoughts for the gray contrast are: Carpet, seats, dashboard, center console and door panels all black. A/B/C pillar covers remain dove gray, and then the black Alcantara headliner would give the car what I'm imagining is a 'vaulted cockpit' feel. Basically below and above my line of sight would be black, and everything between belt line and roof would be gray.
This could work, but if you're already doing the headliner, I'd just make it all match. I remember wishing my E46 had black abc and headliner, when i finally moved into my E92 w/ M-sport thats how it was despite being an Oyster leather (white/cream) car.
 

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The headliner is cost-prohibitive to just replace, so re-wrapping it is the best option. Since the pillar covers are brand new and I put them on a couple months ago, I can deal with the difference for a bit. If I eventually tire of the contrast I can buy new covers.
Oh, if they're new then let it ride. I forgot the pillars in the E46 aren't too bad since they more or less clip on and off.
 
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My luck kinda ran out yesterday. A cross-threaded bolt and my airbag light is still on for some reason. Nothing too major, and both fixable but kind of annoying.

I will take the fact that the car is running, idling, and staying perfectly cool on these very hot and humid days as a big old victory. I think the coolant that was in the car was kinda done. New stuff has me idling exactly in the middle.

These two little bastard items:
View attachment 198162

Led to a real escalation of things:
View attachment 198163

Enough corrosion and time meant not only the bolts for the accumulator bracket were frozen, but the accumulator was frozen to the bracket itself. It took about 2 hours to get the headlight off, realize I wasn't getting these bolts unstuck while it was in the engine bay, removing the old and replacing with new. Real pain in the ass.

While I soaked all that crap in brake cleaner I ran back to the apartment to address my still gray (DUH, dude) interior kick/trim panels. I'm standing there thinking "uh yeah this is gonna look weird" so I decided to sand, paint, sand, paint, and clear coat the gray kick panels. This is easily like $300 of stuff new, and one of the issues I have with this car and it's lack of abuse is, replacing stuff from similarly aged cars doesn't always mean the parts are in better shape. If you've ever seen black E46 sill covers you know they're usually scratched to ****.

View attachment 198164


View attachment 198165

And.... View attachment 198166

View attachment 198167

Pretty much the only thing I haven't put back in are headrests and the a-pillar covers. I drove around the (very bumpy) block and...no rattles! I'm kind of amazed. I'm not terribly mad at the gray center console either. If I can find a black console/armrest for cheap, I'll pick one up but it's not as bad as I thought it would be.

The last remaining issues are:

  1. That cross threaded bolt. Can likely be tapped.
  2. Airbag light. Pretty sure that can be coded out.
  3. The accelerator pedal needs to be konked the last 1/8" onto its adapter plate. It's not loose, but it's not 100% clicked into 'never-getting-this-off-without-breaking-it-ville'
  4. A/C system needs to be vacuumed/charged and refilled.
Always something unnecessarily difficult when dealing with a 20 year old car.

The kick sills look great, definitely the right move and I hear you on stuff from other E46 interiors likely looking like crap.

The center console doesn't look half bad since you put in that silver trim. Kinda flows. I'd just replace or recover/dye the arm rest itself in black.

Air bag light...do you know the cause? I had this on my E46, and I think the fix was actually mundane but expensive. ...I'll see if I still have my invoices but I think I trashed them in my last move.
 

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For the airbag I'm 90% sure it's because I had the car off and on and off again with the passenger seat unplugged.
I think...and I could be remembering incorrectly.

But my issue stemmed from one of the sensors related to the driver side seat, and an old battery. I think a combination of clearing the code and new battery fixed the issue. If that hadn't done it, then a whole knew seat belt mechanism or something was needed.
 

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I forgot to mention something kinda funny.

The last time I went over to this guy (his name is Siwan) we were talking and he showed me some logo designs he had someone do for him. I could tell the artist was just starting out because a lot of the stuff looked like what I did when I first started. I told him I could help him out since that's what I do. No charge.

A couple weeks pass and I get the chance to throw together some options based on what he wanted. I told him I could piece together the rest of the BMW badge font alphabet so if he wanted his shop's name set in that he could. I sent him options saying "these are super rough, just to show direction. Let me know what your preference is from here and we can iterate."

I send him this:

View attachment 198233


And 2 days later I'm on Instagram and he posts a story of the top version in a white decal on someone's car.

I guess that means he liked it.
With how easy digital media is to transfer, unless you yourself design or have a close friend/family member in that arena, most people have no appreciation. I myself didn't really get it until I caught back up with a childhood friend who is in the digital marketing/media space and we started swapping stories. he's now designing a memorial piece of my dad for me, which I'll have printed and framed, and then utilize as a basis for a tattoo.
 
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