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Project BMW M3 Part 14: A fresh engine

Pablo Mazlumian
Nov 26, 2002
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It's not often you see 400+ whp cars driving around town, especially those bearing the Bavarian marque's badges, better known for their handling prowess and awe-inspiring braking. Yet Project M3 has propelled itself well into sports car--no, let me claim super car territory--with its performance upgrades, especially those found in the engine compartment. By no means has this achievement come cheaply. Part 8 featured an expensive turbo kit from Active Autowerke. And in the last issue we saw Project M3 receive a fresh 3.2-liter U.S.-spec. M3 motor from Bavarian Engine Exchange, featuring new internals from the likes of JE Pistons, Pauter Machine Company, Total Seal, Active Autowerke and BMP Design.

It's not all that easy to find a shop up to the task of completing this multi-day transplant, but I'm fortunate in having located evosport. Tech-nician Frank Lopez needed more than a day to yank out the exhausted 3.0-liter turbo (a bit longer than usual because of complex plumbing).

Project M3's next step began with more displacement. Up top is Bavarian Engine Exchange's cylinder head, with its upgraded CNC ported and polished air passages, and the valves are popped by turbo-specific cams from Active Autowerke. A new turbo from AA, with an even larger compressor utilizing a Garrett T60-1, provides the blow.

Since the motor came butt-naked from Bavarian Engine Exchange, Frank scooped out all the extra (yet important) gadgets--intake manifold, valve cover, water pump, oil filter housing, etc.--for the new engine. If you were to order an engine from Bavarian Engine Exchange, however, you'd get everything you need. Almost every step of the process is a perfect swap--just remember to plug up the crankshaft sensor hole on the OBD-II 3.2-liter block, or your car will spew enough oil to seize the motor within a 100 miles.

Because the turbocharger generates a tremendous amount of heat, the exhaust manifold and other engine components were under threat by its proximity. Enter Cool Ride Products, a company that makes custom heat shields and insulation products for various race teams in NASCAR, CART and Formula One. Tony Anthon, the guru behind this magical material for 15 years, cooled nuclear reactors for a living, so his qualifications to block the heat from my relatively cool exhaust manifold seemed more than sufficient.

Before the heat-shield mat was applied, the heat from the turbo area was exceeding 800*F, measured at idle after a semi-hard run. With Cool Ride's heat shield installed, the temperature dropped to a staggering 240oF. By preventing excess turbo heat from saturating the air under the hood, we effectively limited the loss of horsepower from heat soak and likely improved fuel mileage. Even normally aspirated M3s benefit from this application of heat-blocking elements, especially in track-driven cars.

More Cool Ride wrapping was applied on the intake pipe from the intercooler to the throttle body. For such an application the wrap comes reinforced with aluminum shielding on the outside and sticky adhesive on the inside--be careful; once it's in contact with the metal pipe, it's not coming off. This prevents engine bay heat, specifically from the radiator, from penetrating the chrome pipe and heating up the intake charge. I was so sold on this stuff I had Cool Ride make coverings for the downpipe, turbocharger and even a heat shield for the underside of the intake manifold, which I'll talk about next time. Of course, Cool Ride will fabricate just about any custom application.

Okay, the motor was now installed, and it was the moment of truth. Frank started up the new engine. For three months I'd worked to bring Project M3 back to life. Would it be worth the wait?

Initial start-up was done at 2000 rpm to get the oil pumped up quickly through the valvetrain. The evosport technicians had put in non-detergent oil for this first half-hour run to help filter out any loose metals. After replacing the contaminated oil by conventional oil, I was advised to take it extremely easy for the next 500 miles.

"Keep it under 3000 rpm, and don't get into any boost whatsoever. This will allow the piston rings to seat properly," Vadim Federovsky instructed. That's like giving a 3-year-old a lollipop and saying, "Don't put it in your mouth!" I had to complete these miles as quickly as possible or I was mentally not going to make it.

A day and a half went by before I impatiently returned to evosport's doorstep with 502 miles on my trip meter, eager to find out what the dyno would tell us. Even though the car was still running a "break-in" chip from AA, the engine sent more than 330 horses to the wheels at only 8 psi; 10 psi released over 365 hp. In both runs the horsepower peaked at around 5500 rpm and stayed flat through 7000 rpm. Although we didn't turn the dial past 12 psi that day, we still witnessed more than 400 hp at the wheels. With the new AA fuel pump installed, there was plenty of fuel, the air/fuel ratio staying safely in the mid 11s. (Next month I'll have graphs showing higher boost pressures.) "Alright, let's get her off the dyno. I want to drive it!"

Famous last words.

It wasn't even 5 minutes into my drive. At around 11 p.m. I made a left turn onto the divided highway, absolutely no one in sight. I had more than 500 yards of nothing in front as well as no cross streets. I slowly made my way to 50 (the speed limit) and kept it in third. Then, within an instant of my foot pressing the accelerator, I felt the most wicked rush I'd ever felt in a street car. Just as it is in the best thrill rides, I was pressed into my seat as the g forces and my peripheral vision conspired to make the world rush by in an unfocused haze.

The turbo didn't whine; it emitted a powerful "whoosh" as the enormous amount of air was pumped into the combustion chambers. I kept my foot on the accelerator and watched the tach needle reach 7000 rpm with such a furious rate it became a blur. Then I slammed the brakes and wrenched it back down to 50.

What a rush! The whole event lasted about 3 sec.--and that was all the motorcycle cop hiding up ahead in the darkness needed to write me up for 92 mph. I hope this newfound power and engagement with law enforcement isn't the start of a trend. It's time to slow down, but it's also time to invest in a radar detector.

Author's note: Special thanks to Karl and Mike Hugh of Active Autowerke, Kevin Silva and Bryce Eagle of Bavarian Engine Exchange, Al Hafner of BMP Design, Vadim Federovsky of evosport, Stacey Stone of JE Pistons and Brian Pauter of Pauter Machine for their patience and cooperation in making Project M3's motor happen.

evosport
If you've been following Project M3 closely you've noticed the numerous mentions of evosport, the company responsible for nearly all of the installations on Project M3.

Simon Atik and Brad Otoupalik, two car nuts with a passion for road racing and high-performance tuning, founded this rapidly growing company in 1999. Both individuals still race BMWs and can often be found instructing for various Ferrari, BMW and Porsche club events. In club racing, it's hard not to notice the numerous evosport-sponsored cars on West Coast racetracks, primarily in BMW CCA events.

evosport carries a huge range of product lines, from engine and exhaust upgrades, brakes, suspensions, interior upgrades to even chip tuning for street and track cars. This range allows evosport the flexibility to offer more of what the customer needs.

The tuning facility in Orange County, operated by Vadim Federovsky, houses a Dynojet dynamometer. Offering custom tuning to the serious performance enthusiast, evosport doesn't limit its services to BMWs--it also carries product lines and provides tuning for Ferraris and Mercedes-Benzes. In fact, a couple of its highly tuned Mercedes-Benz project cars might be able to outrun Project M3.

Active Autowerke
9940 S.W. 168th Terrace
Miami, FL 33157
(305) 233-9300
Fax: (305) 253-8921
www.aatuning.com

Bavarian Engine Exchange
3698 Omec Ci.
Rancho Cordova, CA 95742
(800) 269-6585
Outside U.S.: (916) 638-8569
Fax: (916) 638-0496
www.bmwengine.com

BMP Design
3208 Park Center Dr.
Tyler, TX 75701
(800) 648-7278 or (903) 581-8206
Fax: (903) 581-8206
E-mail: bmpdsales@bmpdesign.net
www.bmpdesign.com

Cool Ride Products Inc.
19565 Montana Lane
Boca Raton, FL 33434
(561) 482-1127
Fax: (561) 482-1127
E-mail: info@coolrideproducts.com
www.coolrideproducts.com

evosport inc.
(714) 731-6040
Order: (888) 520-9971
Fax: (888) 520-9972
E-mail: info@evosport.com
www.evosport.com

JE Pistons
15312 Connector Ln.
Huntington Beach, CA 92649
(714) 898-9763
Fax: (714) 893-8297
www.jepistons.com

Pauter Machine
367 Zenith St.
Chula Vista, CA 91911
(619) 422-5384
Fax: (619) 422-1924
E-mail: info@pauter.com
www.pauter.com

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By Pablo Mazlumian
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