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Before you go wild with the motor I'd highly recommend some headers, a tune, and an intake just for some extra noise. I personally wouldn't mess with an M50 intake manifold, there's a lot more to it with the M54 than simply swapping it over. You also lose the low end torque that you get with DISA. The gains are minimal for the work involved. Little bit of HP at redline isn't worth it.

Just changing the throttle mapping and response, along with the few extra HP from tune and extra revs is going to make it feel tons different. Then throw the headers on and it changes even more.

At that point you have a decision to make, and if you still want more power, supercharge it. VF Engineering BMW E46 330i Supercharger System

Before you do any of that I'd put a manual transmission in the car, as that's going to totally transform the experience for you, and quite frankly would probably have you put off some of the other engine modifications for the time being. You can look up the dyno sheets from automatic cars vs manual, and it's quite the loss at whp.

As far as suspension, if you're still going to drive the car on the street do not go full spec e46 with the suspension as it'll be a totally miserable experience. Refresh all your bushings and then get some ZHP control arms, stiffer sway bars, and pick some decent coilovers.

FWIW, after headers and a tune, plus a supercharger, you'll be over 320-330 HP at the crank, if not a bit more. Essentially where you'd be sitting with a stock LS (5.3), and still have all the characteristics of the super smooth I6.
 

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The M54 is one of the last reliable straight 6 normally aspirated cars from BMW. These cars are on the rise in value. I wouldnt modify it at all. These cars have been claimed to be the last good product to come out of Stuttgart. Maybe go through a re-build with it if you want a project. There is an awesome video from 50's Kid on youtube that does a full re-build. I have this same engine in my e85 with a 6 speed and love it. 50s kid also does a manual swap and all the typical things to tackle on these cars.
I don't know that OP has plans to ever get rid of it, so resale isn't probably a concern.

Though you're not wrong, they are going up in value. The way I see it, as long as the modifications are mild, and the engine is not opened up, it's all easily reversable.
 

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1. Sort suspension and bushings, brake lines, etc
2. Manual swap
3. LSD

By the time you're done with all that I'd be surprised if you feel like doing much to the motor, at least for a little while. Most manual cars lose about 15% to the rear wheels on the dyno, whereas the automatics lose 20-25%. That, coupled with the sensation of having a manual car, is going to make it feel much better.

I've been looking at dyno numbers for 330's that are supercharged, and most of them are putting down 300-320WHP, which is damn impressive. However you would want to intercool it if you plan on having it on the track.
 

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Control arms with ZHP arms and Z4M control arm bushings since you're going to need an alignment after all that work anyways.
Yep, you can buy the ZHP control arms from FCP and then you get that lifetime warranty as well. They come loaded with all bushings and are well worth it, and not too expensive either. I’ve got them on mine and I’m very happy with them.
 

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Whoa. Does this just fit into the stock diff?? I'm reading up on it now and it seems really cool.
Yep, just open up the existing and drop it in.

You don't want to swap in an M3 diff because then you're dealing with different axles, etc etc. And a proper race diff is thousands and thousands. Those wavtracs are the sh*t.

Bimmerworld will let you build a custom diff using several different options, eat your heart out. E46 Non-M Diffsonline Custom Performance Differential
 

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LSD is on my short list as well. Before I do anything too silly with the motor (like a supercharger) I'm definitely going to be getting a limited slip. If I'm one wheel peeling now, it would almost be no fun with more power.

Another vote for LSD, but not the homerdash kind.
 

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Mechanics usually don’t do aftermarket electronics well. You may be having an similar experience to having a plumber paint a room. Can they do it? Sure. Will they know how to apply primer well? Maybe.
100% this. I'm sorry this went poorly, but I wouldn't let this be the litmus test for them doing solid mechanical work.

I'd take my car to a body shop to have electronics or interior work done before I'd take it to a mechanic.

Working on the interior of a car is a completely difference experience than working on the motor/chassis/transmission. It's one of the reasons mechanics loathe doing HVAC work deep in the dash, they've basically got to disassemble the entire interior from the steering wheel forward. Between all the clips and other fragile interior pieces, it aggravates the hell out of them.
 

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He had a guy come in that does electronics for him. The issue is:

Did the owner of the shop see him do this and think it was ok? Or did the owner of the shop NOT see him do this and didn't inspect it before I picked the car up.

I'm a graphic designer and if you asked me to install a dashcam I wouldn't leave wires hanging off a sun visor. At the very least I'd grab my phone, look up "How to hide wires in E46 BMW" and sit in on YouTube University for 10 mins.
Knowing this, I'd just stop by and be cool and calm and ask the owner what he thinks about it. Chances are he didn't see the end result, and he's probably willing to make it right by you.
 

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The owner of the shop has a guy who does installs (or did) them for Best Buy, so it's not like some random lube tech is doing them.

So the issue is - I call him back and ask him to find someone ELSE to do it? Honestly I want a partial refund.

We're not talking about some wires peeking out here and there. It's literally like someone jerry rigged a backseat DVD player with HDMI cables hanging out of random spots.
I’d stop by in person and show it to him, don’t do it over the phone.
 

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Yep. So much of the rubber and plastic on this thing is gone or going. I'm glad I didn't drive it much (really at all) in any winter, and I did have it covered for a while. So not everything is toasted, but much of it is just old as ****.



I did. He's open to a partial refund which is cool, but I'm totally burnt and turned off. I won't be taking the car back to him. ever.


In other news:

I. LOVE. PICK & PULLS.

I woke up to an email alert from LKQ saying they had a 2000 328i in stock, ready 12/11. I check the photos and sure enough it's a manual. Score!

I show up at like 10 am still half asleep with coffee in hand and get to work. It was gross, and I earned my discount, but I got:

Pedal assembly including lines, clutch switches and wires.
Shifter linkage and associated hardware
Manual driveshaft

for $85.

Idk if they know the mileage of the cars they stock, so I'll call back tomorrow to ask. If this thing had around/less miles than my car currently has, I think I may try to go back next weekend for the whole trans.

It'll add a real interesting step to teaching my fiance to be more comfortable behind the wheel, but it's been like 12 years since I've driven stick.
Hell yeah man.

The manuals in these are pretty decent transmissions. As long as it's a good deal I wouldn't worry about mileage too much, just get you a new clutch and flywheel when you have it installed.

Which, for the record, clutch kits and flywheels for these are pretty damn affordable, around $300 from FCP which comes with a lifetime warranty. 👍
 

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If you're going to get rid of the dual mass flywheel, go ahead and get rid of the driveshaft guibo too. Oh, and just replace all bushings with poly/metal.

Unless OP is going to be drifting/launching and make this strictly a track car, the dual mass flywheel is plenty robust. That really changes the dynamics of the car and I would not recommend it for something that's going to be daily driven.

If you want to delete the CDV, that's fine, go for it. As far as regular flywheels and other cars, yes, there are plenty of vehicles with regular flywheels and clutches. They were designed with that in mind, these cars were not designed with that in mind, and it severely hurts NVH.
 

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Happy for you Matt. Can't wait for you to get the swap done and really open the car up.

BTW, make sure when you swap to manual you go to the electric fan as well. The automatic cars have fans attached to the water pump which is another parasitic drag on top of the automatic transmission. Manual cars came with electric fans.
 

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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
 
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