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      06-29-2010, 10:16 AM   #1
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Modification Journal / 2006 M Coupe / Interlagos Blue / #207 of 1815

Background: My name is Chris, and I am addicted to M cars. The love affair began with a ’01 Imola Red M3 convertible; great intro to the M world! Next, I picked up a ’01 Phoenix Yellow M roadster w/ the Dinan s-1 package; very fast, but handling was scary. I was shopping for an e46 M3, when I came across a great deal on a ’06 Interlagos Blue M roadster.

I really wanted the M3 again because of the balance between power and handling. After a bit of research and a few extensive test drives, I found the Z4 M platform to very well balanced. So the ’06 M roadster became M #3. After 10 months in the M roadster, I finally figured out that I was a coupe guy (I would lust after them every time I saw one ) so I began my hunt for an M coupe.

In May of 2009, I found what I was looking for in Las Vegas. This is the first car I have ever owned that I do not what to trade after a year of ownership. For the money, there is nothing else out there I would prefer. The M coupe has great performance, great handling, great styling, and it's rare.

I will use this thread to catalog modifications made to my ’06 Interlagos Blue M coupe. I will include them all; the good, the bad, and the ugly.



Table of Contents:


Page 1:

1. DPE Wheels
2. VMR CSL Replicas
3. H&R Sport Springs
4. Ground Control Track School Kit
5. Volk Racing TE 37’s w/ NT 05’s
6. Black Grills
7. RPI GT Exhaust
8. Hankook Evo V12’s
9. Volk Racing LE Caps and Black Valve Stems
10. KW V3 Kit
11. UCC Short Through Shifter
12. BMW M ZHP Shift Knob
13. Front Reflector Delete and Clear Bra
14. KW Clubsport Kit
15. Painted Rear Lighted Reflectors
16. OEM Euro Headers
17. Secondary O2 Sensor Relocation
18. Toolbox
19. Carbon Fiber Intake Plenum
20. GruppeM Air Intake
21. ESS VT-1 Kit

Page 2:

22. Stoptech BBK
23. Wheel Stud Kit
24. Ceramic Coating
25. Trunk Dampening
26. Eisemann Sport
27. Motul Engine Oil
28. Personalized Plate


Page 11:

29. RS Technick Spacers + TMS Studs
30. Volk Racking G2's + Nitto NT05's
31. Carbon Fiber Front Splitter


Parts installed, tested, or in progress. Write-ups pending:
32. APR GTC 200 Wing
33. Macht Schnell Spacers project 3mm,5mm,10mm & 18mm
34. Zpost/APR CF V2 front Splitter
35. Volk TE37 SL's pressed graphite
35. Nav/stereo system delete
36. Bulkhead delete
37. Macht Schnell light weight battery tray and Brallie battery
38. ADVAN RZ-DF w/ ADO8's
39. Status ring GT's / Status 4-point harnesses / Macht Schnell mounting hardware
40. APEX ARC-8's with Hankook RS-3's
41. 4-point cage design & fabrication
42. 4-point cage painted IB
43. Gauge pod design and fabrication
44. Stack 3500 series boost, h20, oil ppsi, & egt / 3100 series AFR gauge
45. Windshield washer system delete
46. Jet Hot header coating
47. DKF exhaust system prototype testing
48. Air-bag system delete
49. Sparco DTM seats / Status 6-point FIA harnesses / Macht Schnell mounting hardware
50. Sparco Ring steeringwheel (Merry Christmas from the wife )
51. NRG short hub and 2.5 quick release
52. Lamin-X headlight and bumper protection
53. Upgraded ESS BPV


.
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      06-29-2010, 10:17 AM   #2
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DPE Wheels

Let the games begin!
#1

When I traded in my roadster for my coupe, I made the decision to keep my DPE R07’s. At the time, I really liked the DPE’s on e46 M3’s, but quickly realized that they were not the look I wanted on a Z4 M.

So why did I keep them?

Well I wanted a 19” set-up, and figured I would be able to sell the DPE’s faster and for more money than I would the stock set-up.

My thinking paid off because the wheels sold in 45 minutes on www.e46fanatics.com for my full asking price.
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      06-29-2010, 10:17 AM   #3
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CSL reps

#2

I was very excited to make the switch from DPE bling, to the gunmetal CSL reps. They gave more of the factory motorsport look I was going for.

Sizes:
Front 19X8.5 et 40 w/ 245/35/19
Rear 19X10.0 et 25 w/ 275/30/19

This set-up was everything I was looking for. I picked up the wheel tire package from www.europeanautosource.com . The finish, and fitment was perfect.
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      06-29-2010, 10:18 AM   #4
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H&R springs

#3

I wanted to improve the look and handling of my coupe, so I picked up set of H&R springs from www.tirerack.com .

The look was greatly improved, and the ride quality was a bit better in my opinion.

The stock springs would allow the car to lean quite a bit while turning. The stock springs also seemed to compress to fast and be jarring on rough roads.

PROS:
-The H&R springs got rid of the “roly poly” lean and allowed the car to sit flatter in the turns.
-The H&R springs also ride smoother over rough roads.
-The M looks great with the drop

CONS:
-(not a con for me) The rear end sits lower, but can be corrected with rubber spacers. Link for spacers:

http://www.turnermotorsport.com/html...ID=33531094754

-Shorter springs will wear out the factory struts faster. I was told they would need to be replaced after 30-40k miles.
-Not a complete solution for tracking.
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      06-29-2010, 10:19 AM   #5
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Ground Control Track School Kit

#4

I was ready for a more track oriented suspension set-up, so I began searching for what was available for our cars. As it turned out, there was not much. I read through the development of TCK’s kit on another member’s car. I looked into KW, but found very little technical information. Then, I stumbled across www.ground-control.com .

At the time I was on the fence between KW and GC. GC provided an abundance of technical data, and their customer service was un-matched. GC was willing to develop a kit specifically for my needs. They came through with a complete coil-over kit with dual adj. koni struts, eibach springs, and camber plates for a deal that could not be matched. So, with the promise of 100% satisfaction, I jumped on the GC track school kit.

Installation:
Modifications had to be made. GC took care of all issues through overnight delivery, and their phone support was un-beatable.

First issue: The hardware holes for the front struts. They were too small and had to be drilled out. I was told that this was because of the powder coating; however, when I drilled I hit solid metal.

Second issue: The brake line bracket on the front struts was mounted too high. This was fixed with zip ties. It was painful to install zip ties on the M, but it worked.

Third issue: The rear bushings where the spring and body meet were the wrong size. GC shipped a new set out overnight.

Fourth issue: In the lowest setting, the rear springs raised the car a half inch. GC shipped a different set of springs to me overnight.

Fifth issue: Coil chatter. If you look at my installation photos, you can see that when the rear suspension is stretched out, there is play in-between the spring and body. The result is an annoying noise from the rear when you go over rough road. At the time there was no real fix for this. It had zero affect on performance. It was just very annoying. If I ran the taller rear spring, there was no coil chatter, but it lifted the car. If I ran the shorter spring, there was coil chatter, but I could lower the rear as much as .75 inch.

Performance:
After I installed and uninstalled different variations of the kit several times, the end result was…WOW!

The performance upgrade was remarkable. The turn-in had improved 100%. The coupe sat way flatter in the turns. This was definitely a track worthy kit. The kit completely changed the driving characteristics of the M for me. It was so stable @ high speed in turns, that it really boosted my driving confidence. I was able to brake much later and exit turns much faster. The ride wash much more harsh, but the performance gain was worth it. The only downside for me was the damn coil chatter, which would eventually put me over the edge into a different kit.
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      06-29-2010, 10:21 AM   #6
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Volk TE37's w/ NT05's

#5

I decided I wanted lightweight flat black wheels, and the maximum grip I could get out of street legal tires. In working with www.vividracing.com I ended up going with Volk TE37’s and Nitto NT05’s.

Sizes:
Front- 19x8.5 et30 w/ 245/35/19
Rear- 19x10.5 et25 w/ 275/35/19

PROS:
1. Lightweight and strong wheels.
2. The tire grip was insane.
3. Accomplished the look I was going for.

CONS:
1. Fitment was off, and I had to modify the rear fenders. Rubbing occurred where the fender and rear bumper meet. My other option was to stretch a narrower tire over the rim, but because I wanted to track the car this was not a good option. There is a misconception with a lot of vendors that our cars run the same offsets as e46 M3’s. While they are close, the offsets are not the same. Now that I have modified my fenders, I will stick with the aggressive wheel offsets. If I could do it all over again, I would order wheels that do not require fender modification.
2. The wheels did not come with center caps.
3. The wheels are expensive.
4. Rear tires were too tall.
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      06-29-2010, 10:22 AM   #7
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Black Grills

#6

First I tried doing this myself. I removed the grills, removed the chrome surrounds and did the following:
1. Sanded the surrounds to promote primer adhesion
2. Primed the surrounds with automotive primer (two coats)
3. Painted the surrounds satin black (two coats)

This looked great, but after a few thousand miles began to chip. I ended up picking up a new black set, and a new OEM set. For whatever reason I am very fickle about the front grills. I frequently go from black to chrome. On the one hand the black looks menacing, and sort of completes the motorsport look. On the other hand the chrome surrounds contrast the dark color of the car, and sort of represents BMW DNA.

I attached photos that shows how the black grill look in various lighting.
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      06-29-2010, 10:23 AM   #8
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RPI GT exhaust

#7

I missed the exhaust note of my ’01 M roaster with the Dinan exhaust, so I started shopping around for an axle-back set-up. I wound up jumping on the tail end of the RPI group buy. I really like the look, the video clips sounded great, and the price was low relative to other brands. www.raceprecision.com (RPI) customer service was very good.

Installation: Very easy, and everything fit like OEM.

Quality: Top notch. The exhaust really looked like a work of art. Every detail was perfect.

Sound: What the hell have I gotten myself into!

The exhaust sounded amazing. It literally sounded like a GT class race car. This is a sound I have grown to love, because I meet up with friends and family every year to attend the American Le Mans race In Monterey. Inside the car was a different story. It was so loud that I almost put the stock exhaust back on. I was encouraged by other members to run the exhaust for a few hundred miles, and that it would mellow out. I am glad I waited, because the sound matured into a beautiful exotic tone. In the end, this was the perfect axle back set-up for me.

Power: About 7 WHP is what has been produced by others. I did not put my car on a dyno for this mod.
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      06-29-2010, 10:24 AM   #9
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Hankook Evo V12's

#8

My rear NT05’s continued to give me issues. I loved the characteristics of the tire, but they did not make a size that fit my application. The 275/35/19’s were too tall and causing more trouble than they were worth. They made 275/30/19’s, but Nitto does not recommend these on any wheel wider than 10 inches. So I was stuck looking for another tire.

Unfortunately, there are not a lot of tire options in the same class as the NT05 for 19” wheels. I thought about switching to 18’s because the tire choices were abundant.

The size I needed for the rear was 285/30/19. They are the same height as OEM, and the appropriate width for 10.5 in wide wheels. I ended up picking up a set of Hankook Evo V12’s from www.tirerack.com. They had received several great reviews on various BMW posts, and the pricing was very aggressive.

Performance: Less road noise, but nowhere near the grip of the NT05’s. The grip is still very good once they are warm. They are similar to PS2’s, but with a bit more road noise. Oh yeah, and half the price of PS2’s.

PROS:
1. Good grip once warm
2. Better tread wear than the NT05’s
3. Good overall value for multi-use

CONS:
1. Not as sticky as the NT05’s
2. Not as aggressive looking as the NT05’s
3. Heavier than the NT05's

That said, I am very picky about tires, and these do perform very well.
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      06-29-2010, 10:26 AM   #10
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LTD Black Volk center caps / Black Volk valve stems

#9

My TE37’s did not come with caps, so I special ordered the black caps and black valve stems. They came directly from Japan and took 6 weeks to arrive. Coincidentally they came in about the same time I was switching tires, so the timing was good.

-The caps were a limited edition black cap with carbon fiber center and red lettering.
-The valve stems that came with the wheels were blue, so I switched them out with black.
-Out of sequence, but worth note. In the photos you can see that I covered my reflectors with Interlagos Blue decals from www.dansdecals.com.
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      06-29-2010, 10:26 AM   #11
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KW V3's

#10

While I was satisfied with the performance of my GC track school kit, the coil chatter got the best of me. Before I had installed the GC kit, there were no noises, clanks, or chatter of any kind. The coil chatter was minimal and had no affect on the performance of the M, but I would not be satisfied until I had absolutely no noise coming from my suspension. Looking back a pair of assistor springs in the rear may have gotten rid of this noise.

After researching several posts, looking up technical data on various manufacturers’ websites, and speaking with technical support for each manufacturer, I decided to go with KW.


The reason’s I chose KW:

1. Warranty / KW offers a lifetime warranty on their KW V3’s. To me, that shows a great deal of confidence in their product.

2. Components / KW’s kits are 100% KW built; whereas, others group parts from different manufacturers to complete their kits.

3. R&D / Continuous engineering, and track testing with the ability to make all improvements in house.

4. The 750 ESS powered M coupe / I figured that if KW is good enough for the M coupe that is spending its life on The Ring with the sole purpose of breaking records, then it should be just fine for my coupe.

I was going to purchase my kit from www.**********s.com because they had offered the best price. I ended up picking up a used kit from a forum member. Good timing and the kit came with original packaging, manuals, adjustment tools, and KW stickers.


Installation:
Flawless! Each component fit like OEM. Here is a link to the installation guide:
http://www.zpost.com/forums/showthread.php?t=369000

Performance:
Once I had dialed in the dampening, bump, and ride height, the kit performed very well. Here is a link to the setup guide:
http://www.zpost.com/forums/showthread.php?t=368994



The M was very confident in the turns with this kit, but a little less quick into the turns than the GC kit. When compared to the GC kit, I did compromise a bit of performance for more comfort and better fitment. When compared to the stock suspension, the KWV3’s out perform in every category.


The KW V3’s are the only kit that greatly improved handling and performance without any compromise to ride comfort. The parts fit like OEM, and the kit makes not rattle, chatter, or any noise (if you have run other kits, you know what I mean). You can easily dial in the dampening, bump, and ride height for street use or a track day.


If you spend as much or more time on public roads as you do on the track; this is the best way to go in my opinion. The KW V3’s were the fourth suspension set-up I used on the coupe and were by far the best quality and most versatile.
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      06-29-2010, 10:27 AM   #12
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UCC short shift kit

#11

I wanted a shorter throw between gears, so I picked up a UCC SSK from www.**********s.com. This mod was extremely labor intensive. I had to remove the mid pipe, the x pipe, and the heat shield from the car. All that work to access the shifter from under the car, and the actual shifter install only took ten minutes.

PROS:
1. Mission accomplished! There was a recognizable shorter through between shifts.
2. As a result of the shorter through, the shifting was smoother, and the CDV delay was not as big a deal.
3. Shifter was height adjustable. This was a plus because I did not what the physical height of the shifter to be shorter. I set the height to the max and it was about an eighth of an inch taller than stock. At the lowest height, the bottom of the shift knob sits below the console. You can dial it in for any preference.
4. Quality was good. This piece is more robust than the stock shifter.
5. Helped reduce the spongy feel of the stock shifter.

CONS:
1. I had to remove most of the exhaust system to install this piece.
2. The installation instructions only include the steps for the shifter, and none of the steps for removal of the exhaust components.
3. A little pricy for what it is.

I am still completely satisfied with this mod, and would definitely do it all over again.
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      06-29-2010, 10:28 AM   #13
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ZHP shift knob

#12

I wanted to completely get rid of the spongy feel of the stock shifter. Based on the recommendations of other forum members, I picked up an OEM ZHP knob. I picked this part up NIB on EBay from Bimmer Joe.

PROS:
1. The knob was weighted and stiffer than the original.
2. Between this and the UCC, the “spongy, rubbery” feel of the shifter was eliminated.
3. Quality was very good, as it should be since it’s an OEM part.
4. I liked the silver ring @ the base of the shifter because it tied into the brushed aluminum trim.

CONS:
1. The knob did not light up like the original knob.
2. The knob is physically shorter than the original.
3. There is a danger of punching yourself in the face when your remove the shift knob.

Overall I am happy with this knob. I may look into picking up one of the lighted ZHP knobs out there.
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      06-29-2010, 10:28 AM   #14
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Clear Bra / Reflector Delete

#13

My 2006 M Roadster had a clear bra. With 18K on the clock it still looked new. My Coupe had a little over 20K at the time, and it already had a few good sized rock chips, holes from a CA license plate, and some rash on the fangs.

Looking back at photos of the roadster, I decided to bite the bullet and give the coupe a face lift.

This is what I had done:
1. Front reflector delete (they were molded in with a plastic epoxy kit, no bondo)
2. Repair holes from license plate
3. Repair rash on bumper fangs
4. Re-paint bumper and blend into hood / fenders
5. Installation of complete clear bra

The work was performed by Scott’s Coach Works inc. They warranty their work for life, and they are very good a putting up with very picky customers, “If you are not satisfied, we will re-do the work until you are” was the response I got after badgering the staff for an hour.

In the end I was very happy with the paint work. The car came back to me fully detailed. This was completely un-expected and I would have turned it down for fear that some hack would do a crappy job. As it turned out, the car looked like it came right off of the showroom floor. The only item that fell short of perfection was the clear bra. It was not perfect and would need to be redone.

The photos below I took yesterday and the car is very dirty. I only washed the front to get some good photos of the bumper area. The rest of the car is covered in a thick layer of that wonderful AZ dust.
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      06-29-2010, 10:29 AM   #15
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KW Club Sports

#14

The 12 Days of Christmas Sale, Great marketing on the part of **********s. I had been very happy with my KWV3’s. I thought, “These are perfect for my needs, just wish I could get more negative camber up front.” Then out of nowhere, I get an e-mail on my BalckBerry from **********s. So I buy into the whole thing and check what is on sale each day.
The KW day pops up, so I go into the site to look for KW camber plates only. Well they got me hook, line, and sinker. As I was looking for camber plates, I saw the KW clubsport price and my jaw dropped. So in my head I justified a new set with thoughts like, “well they come with camber plates, and I do want the M to be a track dedicated car eventually, and this kind of deal may not come around again.”

Before I jumped in, I did some research because I was skeptical about the differences between the V3’s and the Clubsport’s. Initially, I was under the impression that the clubsport kit was just the V3 kit with stiffer front springs and camber plates. This was not the case; there was not one shared component between kits. After spending an hour on the phone with KW North America, I was convinced that this would be a complete suspension performance upgrade at the expense of losing ride comfort. With the description of use I gave the KW tech, he recommended I stay with the V3’s and run camber plates unless I planned on tracking the car more than I drove it on the street. I did plan on tracking a great deal more, so I made the call to **********s. FWI, you can buy directly from KW North America directly, but it is at full retail.

KW North America Link: http://www.kw-suspension.com/us/

KW Parts Finder: http://www.kw-suspension.com/flexshop/

Installation Instruction Link: http://www.zpost.com/forums/showthread.php?t=369002

BMW TIS front and rear axle torque specs: http://www.zpost.com/forums/showthread.php?t=404222

Installation:
Again, flawless! Each component fit like OEM.

Performance:
A leap forward in handling performance and a step back in ride comfort. That really is the bottom line. At this point in the game the M was really starting to feel purpose built. The handling was similar to the GC kit. Turn in was quick, and the car sat even flatter in turns. The ride was very firm @ the KW recommended settings, and when you hit a bump you really feel it. I really liked the feel of this kit, because it put me more in tune with the road. The car would track over every little nook and cranny; It felt like if I ran over a dime, I would be able to tell you what year it was made. This is not to say that the ride is harsh, it is very firm.
Unlike the GC kit and like the V3 kit, the car still had the solid OEM feel with no rattling, or coil chatter. I believe that if you are looking for a more a more track dedicated kit, OEM fitment, and do not mind the compromise in ride comfort, the clubsports are the way to go.

PROS:
1. Improved handling performance compared to the KWV3’s.
2. The kit is the lightest I have installed.
3. OEM fitment and quality.
4. More adjustment with the addition of camber plates.
5. No, rattles, coil chatter, or any foreign noises coming from the suspension.

CONS:
1. Clubsports do not have the lifetime warranty the V3’s had.
2. If you are using a strut brace, the hardware that comes with the kit is too short. You have to request that KW send you the longer hardware which is a pain in the ass if you do not take this into consideration.
3. Ride comfort is decreased.

I added a lot of pictures of the installation process at the request of several members. This is to act a photo journal to help get your bearings in conjunction with using the installation manual provided by KW. KW install guide is good but can be vague and the photos are not great.
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      06-29-2010, 10:29 AM   #16
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Painted Rear Lighted Reflectors

#15

I had used decals to cover my rear lighted reflectors. It was a great solution @ a great price, but the color match was not perfect and the decals had started to shrink in the AZ heat. I picked up a paint kit and gave it a shot. Color match was perfect and I was very happy with the results. The only downside was that my kitchen smelled like paint for a week after I had done this mod.

Paint source link: https://www.expresspaint.com/contact_us/

DIY link: http://www.zpost.com/forums/showthread.php?t=380656
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      06-29-2010, 10:30 AM   #17
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OEM Euro Headers

#16

I was finally content with my suspension and tires, so I decided to look into power and braking modifications. After spending countless hours immersed in this and other Z4 forums, I realized that there was not a quick and easy way to significantly increase the power / driving performance in our cars.
The goal was to get more HP and torque in the low end, and get rid of the speed governor. In the category of performance upgrades these are some that were up for consideration:

1. ESS tune: The general consensus on the forms was that this tune greatly improved and amplified the cars driving characteristics. Quicker acceleration response, more consistent power band, no governor.

2. Headers: This seemed to be the mod that would generate the greatest gains, especially when paired with a tune. Our US headers have Primary cats right of the engine which restrict airflow immediately. The euro and all aftermarket headers do not have cats in line with the headers, so the restriction is gone.


3. Intake: It seemed that while they all sound awesome, the dyno result were not showing any significant gains. In some cases the aftermarket intake would cause a loss in HP.

4. Gears: Rave reviews from everyone who has changed their gearing. Better throttle response, minimal affect on gas mileage. Only cautionary tip was to buy a rear diff with the gears installed by someone who will offer a warranty ( because, “they can grenade”).

5. F/I: The most significant gains, and the most expensive. Also was not sure how I felt about forced induction at the time.

After considering all of the mods above, I decided to go with the tune / header combo. For the headers, I decided to go with OEM euro headers. I was going to pick these up from Tischer BMW http://www.trademotion.com/partlocat...catalogid=4462. Tischer had the best price on new headers at the time. Before I pulled the trigger with Tischer, I got lucky; a member in CA was selling a used set. I am always looking for an excuse to take a road trip in the M, so my wife and I headed out to CA to pick up the headers.


Installation: The installation was time consuming. I removed the entire exhaust system to get to the headers. The headers married up perfectly, but it was a little tricky getting the second header in after installing the first. If I were to do this again, I would try to put both headers into position at the same time. Installed the Primary O2 sensors and removed the secondaries since they now had nowhere to go. At the time, I knew I would have to relocate the sensors. I learned from ESS that while they can get rid of the secondary O2’s with a tune, this was not a good idea. Our computers use data from the secondary’s to optimize performance.


Initial impressions: Good Mod! More power under foot! This really helped the low end and initial acceleration. There was significant change in sound as well. A louder more throaty sound was being produced. As expected, engine codes. Two codes, one for each missing secondary 02 sensor.


PROS:
1. Minimum 15 whp gain and 10 lbs torque gain without a tune, and promise for close to 30 whp gain with a proper tune.
2. OEM parts, with OEM fitment.
3. 8lbs lighter than US headers.
4. Very involved install, good bonding experience with the M.
5. Under foot response is greatly improved.
6. Sounds good.

CONS:
1. Committed to dealing with the secondary O2’s once you do this mod.
2. Some of the hardware is difficult to get to while installing the headers.
3. Had to perform a small miracle to get both headers in (I believe this could be avoided by putting both into position at the same time).

If I were to do this again:
1. I would have modified the mid pipe and lengthened the secondary O2’s first.
2. I would have ceramic coated the headers.
3. I would have tried to put both headers into position before installing the hardware.


Overall I was very happy with this mod, and believe this is the best “bang for the buck” when it comes to power modifications. The pictures below give an idea of the installation process.
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      06-29-2010, 10:31 AM   #18
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O2 Sensor Relocation

#17

Once I had completed the header installation, it was time to take care of the mid-pipe. I had two options:
1. I could order the OEM mid pipe new for approximately $2K
2. I could modify my existing mid pipe.

I priced out option number 2, and figured out that it would run me $300.00. The choice was easy when comparing cost. I contacted www.goodspeedperformance.com. Good Speed was recommended to me by a reputable post member for their immaculate work. I needed them to weld 90 degree O2 bungs behind the cats in the same location as the Euro mid pipe. They took care of this the same day, and the work was very good.
If you look at the photos, you will see that the bungs were welded closer to the cats than on the euro application. This was done because when Good Speed removed the heat shield, there were two flat spots on the angled portion of the pipe. According to the welder, the flat spots were a typical marker for the welding location of O2 bungs. I was informed that it is also better for the O2 sensors to be closer to the cats, and assured that if there was an issue it could be changed. I was uneasy about this because I was sure there was a reason BMW installed them on the flat portion of the pipe with 90 degree bungs instead of on the angled portion of the pipe with 45 degree bungs. As for the flat spots mention, that did make sense to me. These cats are probably used in other cars, and there are probably O2 bungs welded to these locations. So, I gave it a shot.

Now that the mid-pipe was done, I needed to extend the O2 sensors and the EGT. I took the advice of a fellow member and made extensions with one end that would plug into the original end of the O2 sensor in its new location, and the other end into the original location under the engine cover. The reason for this is future replacement of O2 sensors. It would have been easier to just extend the wire between the O2 sensor and its plug, but then I would have to do this the next time I replace the O2 sensors. By creating an extension between the original plugs, I can by the factory O2 sensor and just plug it in.

Once I put everything back together and the engine codes were cleared, victory was mine!

No codes!


There are only two things I would have done differently:

1. I would have not been such a cheap skate, and I would have purchased different color wires. (labeling them was a pain)

2. I would have made sure the welder understood the exact location of the O2 bungs and provided better photos. (It was not very clear in the drawing I provided)
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      06-29-2010, 10:32 AM   #19
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The BEST mod I have done!

#18

So this will not be considered a great mod by most, but it has been the best thing I have done for the M.

A little background:
About ten years ago, I was having really bad luck every time someone else would work on my car. I was paying big bucks for labor, parts were not installed properly, and the cars would come back to me with new bumps and bruises here and there . I had enough and decided to invest some hard earned money into good tools. One of my close friends was a Snap-On dealer, so I was able to take advantage of great prices. I have been doing my own work ever since and have not looked back.


Fast forward 10 years:
Still using the same great tools, but it was a pain to get to them because I had always kept them in various plastics tubs, and tool bags. If you were to look in my garage you would see this mess of bags and tubs stacked high against my garage wall. Inevitably no matter how I arranged this mess, I would need to get to the tools @ the bottom of the pile.

The more I worked on the M, the more frustrating this became. I finally cracked and bought a toolbox. Found a great deal locally on craigslist. The box was in like new condition at a fraction of the cost. Now I can’t believe I had not done this sooner. Everything is easily accessible. Working on the M is even more enjoyable now that I do not go through the frustration of searching for tools. I find myself tinkering in the garage now more often. For example, I decided to put the car up in the air and adjust the muffler gap because it was of by 1/16th of an inch.

My tools used to be stacked high where the bikes are hanging in the first picture.

So there it is. The best thing I have done to this point is a toolbox. Now I am armed and ready to attack the coupe at any moment.
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      06-29-2010, 10:33 AM   #20
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Motorsport Plenum

#19

I was visiting a local Indy shop to pick up brake pads and fluid. While I was there the owner showed me the new addition to his E46 M3. When he popped the hood, my jaw dropped. When he started the engine, a huge grin appeared on my face and I thought, “This thing sound like a CSL M3!”


The low down:
The Indy shop is getting these from a local carbon fiber fabricator who owns a grey market CSL. The fabricator made a mold from his plenum and a few custom snorkel pieces to accommodate different cars with the S54 engine. The CSL plenum is deeper and promotes better air-flow. The Indy shop owners M3 already had Dinan software and a Dinan CIA before he installed the CSL replica plenum. Dyno results showed that the addition of the plenum and a Bimmerworld elbow added 17 whp and 9 lbs torque to the M3. Bimmerworld streamline silicon elbow yields dyno gains of 4-6 whp, so simple math told me that this plenum would add 11 to 13 whp.


The performance gains were significant considering how difficult it is to squeeze more power out of the S54. The sound was intoxicating. The plenum added all the deep bark and growl of the CSL, but allowed me to keep my MAF. I was assured that this would be direct fitment for the Z4 M and that I would be able to keep my factory air box / MAF, so I went for it.


The initial excitement dwindled soon after I began installing the plenum. Keeping the plenum would require other modifications.


The Good:
1. The quality of the plenum was very good. Fit and finish were like OEM. The carbon fiber weave looked great, and all the hardware used was high quality.

2. The Indy shop offered as much support as they could in trying solve compatibility issues with other components.

The not so Good:
1. When I first test fit the plenum, it seemed that it would not fit with the stock air box in place. I was instructed to remove the air box first, install the plenum, and then the air box would fit. So I did, and fitment was off by 1.5 inches. I tried to get creative here, but the air box and plenum were touching. There was no room to budge.

2. To keep the plenum, I would have to run an aftermarket air intake to replace the factory air box.


3. Once I installed the plenum, the stock elbow did not fit on the plenum properly. I was informed that I would have to order the Bimmerworld streamline elbow. I was concerned about the vacuum line in the elbow, but I was told that it would be no problem to relocate this line to the plenum as it is on the M3.

4. I would have to buy a new vacuum line, or modify the one I had.

5. The crank case ventilation fitting that attaches to the top of the plenum had to be trimmed to fit inside the aluminum port.

6. What was supposed to be a plenum upgrade had turned into a mess. My intention was to upgrade the plenum only and leave everything else stock. I should have cut my losses and sold the plenum at this point, but I was determined to get that CSL growl and the power gains.



In the spirit of modification the journey continued, and the M had officially begun what would be a long period of down time.
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      06-29-2010, 10:34 AM   #21
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Gruppe M intake / silicone intake elbow / e46 M3 shut-off valve

#20

I had made the decision to keep the carbon fiber plenum, so it was time to modify the intake, air shut-off valve vacuum line, and the intake elbow.

GruppeM had the only CIA that would fit next to the new plenum. This was the best looking, but also the most expensive. As far as CIAs go, this was the Holy Grail when it came to the M coupe. Actual HP gains were questionable, but they look and sound amazing. Like the M coupe, the GruppeM intake was very rare. I picked up my GruppeM intake from www.vividracing.com . I worked with Jon Guerra. His customer service was top notch. At the time, he was able to offer the best price and get it to me the fastest.

Turner and Bimmerworld both had the silicone intake elbow I needed. Bimmerworld had a better price, so I went that route. EAS www.europeanautosource.com also offers a silicone intake able now. The EAS price is the best I have seen.

The e46 M3 air shut-off vacuum line I picked up @ the stealership. I located the part numbers at www.realoem.com .


PROS:
1. Everything fit well together.

2. The GruppeM intake was high quality and looked amazing.

3. The combination of the cf plenum with the new intake was insane. The sound coming from the engine bay was the stuff dreams are made of. The growl was ridiculously deep. The S54 sounded the strongest I have ever heard in any car. My wife has always thought the M’s sound very mild. She typically prefers the sound of muscle cars. This blew here mind. Her words… “It sound amazing, better than anything I have heard before, I feel it deep in my chest, and I love it!!!”


CONS:

1. Engine codes again……

2. Again, not many tuners understand the computers in our car, and think that they are similar to the E46 M3 when it comes to modifications. They generalize because we share engines, but this has proven to be dead wrong. Our computers are much more difficult to tune, and more in line with the new E9X computers.

3. The vacuum line relocation through a code and was causing the car to burn more fuel.



So now what? If I wanted to keep everything in place, I was looking at a pretty serious tune. I had lost confidence in the knowledge of the shop that sold me the plenum. Feeling stranded, I began researching again. After spending great deal of time talking to different tuners, it seemed only two had actual proven experience with the Z4 M coupes.

I was considering the full CSL style intake and Alpha-N tune from Bimmerworld, or the stage 1 kit from ESS tuning. With a big decision to make, I went into deep recon. I took my time to research the good and bad of all options before I made the next big step.
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      06-29-2010, 10:34 AM   #22
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ESS

#21

ESS tuning had the tough answers, and was able to back them up with hard data. After spending a great deal of time on the website, in the forums talking to other members, and working with Roman from ESS tuning, I was very confident in the new direction I was about to take my M.

Unlike my previous experience with the plenum project, ESS could answer all of my questions and concerns. ESS had the most firsthand knowledge out of anyone tuning the Z4 M’s, and had hard data to back it up. I also liked that responses to my questions were immediate. When I was working with others I would get, “um, we’ll have to get back to you on that.”

ESS tunings customer service was as strong as their product knowledge. Knowing that they back up their product 100% made the decision easy.


When I started the M coupe project, I had planned to stay N/A and get all the power I could out of the S54. I had never owned an F/I car and I had questions and concerns about usability and reliability. The following were some of the assumptions I had made about forced induction:

1. The engine would have to run hotter and this would lead to premature wear.
2. The gas mileage would be terrible.
3. It would be silly to super charge a car that would be used on the track because the extra power would make the car less drivable.
4. Cutting into and modifying the engine bay would greatly decrease the re-sale value of the car, and I would not be able to take the car back to stock.


In the case of the ESS Vt-1 kit all of these assumptions were wrong.

1. The M actually runs cooler by about 10 degrees cooler on average.
2. My average gas mileage over the last 1,000 miles has improved by 1mpg.
3. The car is just as drivable as it had always been. The power band is smooth; the car just gets up to speed a whole lot quicker.
4. No permanent modifications are made to the car to install this kit, so going back to stock is no problem.


Installation:
This was the first mod to the M coupe that I did not install myself. Roman had recommended Good Speed Performance for the installation if I was not going to do it myself. I poured over the installation instructions and the install seem very straight forward. The only step I had a concern with was lifting the engine to install the blower mounting bracket hardware. It turns out there is not enough room to get the bolts for the bracket in without lifting the engine, the M3 guys luck out with this step because they do have the room to do this without lifting the engine.

I was nervous about taking the M in to have someone else work on it, but after 15 minutes of talking to John @ Good Speed I knew the my coupe would be in good hands. Like ESS, Good Speed was all about customer service. I already knew this from the O2 relocation mod. What sealed the deal for me was the fact that John would be doing the installation. John was an enthusiast and a great deal of knowledge working with the Z4 M. John had helped ESS develop the air intake and had installed the first VT-1 kit that went into the IR roadster.

John was cool enough to fit me into his schedule before he went on vacation, so I left the car in his hands. I was worried when received a call a day before the M was supposed to be done, and shocked when I heard what John had to say… “Car’s done.” I was stoked! I left work early and picked up my new monster.


PROS:
1. For the first time, I was working with people who knew more about the M coupe than I did (what a relief).
2. ESS tuning customer service was phenomenal.
3. Good Speed Performance customer service was phenomenal.
4. The VT-1 fit and finish was high quality, a true upgrade to the OEM parts.
5. John’s installation was clean, and without any cosmetic damage to the M (finished a day early too).
6. No more engine codes!
7. Throttle response and power greatly improved all the way through the power band. Much stronger pull off the line and no more fade up at the top of the RPM range.
8. To this point, no negative effect on gas mileage.
9. To this point, no negative effect on engine temps.
10. No permanent modification made to the car during installation.
11. Extra power is very drivable. Car get to speed much quicker, but not spinning the tires everywhere… unless you want to.
12. Better acceleration out of the turns.
13. More fun to drive than any M I have owned so far.
14. The kit is upgradeable. Vt-2 coming soon and I believe there will be a VT-3.

CONS:
1. My brain has failed me twice when I decided it would be a good idea to drag race on public roads.
2. I know have to remove the bumper to service the air filter.


Dynos will be coming soon.


In addition to the Killer intall, John took photos along the way.
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