02-15-2013, 06:44 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
My Ride: 2011 E90 M3
Yes, the E46 M3 is a far superior car and cheaper to make a reliable track car. Most of all, the M3 has a much beefier suspension and a limited slip standard. Don't think for a second that a 333hp non-M is the same as a 333hp M3, not even close. The S54 has proven itself to be a reliable engine in the track environment but not bulletproof. It has an advanced oiling system and more advanced DME. The body work allows you to fit 275s on all 4 corners without too much work. You can get 295s but might not be pretty.
Originally Posted by zhp43867
Could you clarify a little bit on my question (surrounding not FI)? I just had trouble deciphering which part of this is directed at too much boost, and what's directed at what you think the reliability of the M54 is, boost-less, and whether its worth preparing for track use versus just buying an E46 M3.
A non-M has non of that. I think for a novice, a 330 will work. Let's admit it, most of us are competitive. Nothing worse than seeing a Miata pass you. That will happen at the higher run groups. Then...the Miata's wil enjoy much lower running costs and just be faster.
I see at least 5+ S54 engine'd cars at the track every month. Never a problem with the internals. The S54 is reliable but maintenance throughout the life of the egine is imperative and issues must be promptly fixed. It is critical to keep the oil level just right. The S54's oil system does not like too much, the rod bearings do not like too little. The one interesting thing about the S54 rod bearings is the Z4M never had a recall, don't hear many issues and the redline is 7500 or 7800...I know its not 8000. I think you'll find that many post-recall rod bearing issues are due to running the car a quart low on oil frequently and not using BMW spec'd Castrol TWS 10w-60 or comparable oil. And that's a fact according to the Shop Foreman from a very large BMW dealership.
Originally Posted by HighBoostin330
It doesn't offend me.
I was just trying to understand your rational stating the non-M even in NA form is inadequate for track due to engine shortfalls. So I was trying to apply your rational to the E46 M3 you picked up. From my experience, the S54 still had rod bearing issues, sheering cam bolts, and exhaust VANOS hub cracking. And these are seen on cars that haven't even been to the track. Although the sheering cam bolts and cracking VANOS exhaust hubs are more dominant on the 2004+ vehicles. Basically what I am saying is both engines has its shortfalls as witness in the community. So, to say one engine is hands down better than the other because you didn't personally witness a failure of the S54 is incorrect. Just like everything else made in the world, it all has it's shortcomings.
And to answer your question, it is supposedly engine harmonics that cause the oil pump nut to back out on the M54. However, I never personally witnessed it on my M54 as it was blueprinted and balanced during its reassembly and the oil pump nut was welded on. I did replace the oil pump with the VAIO pump and placed in a VAC oil pan baffle just for peace of mind.
If you take a percentage of failures from car that are tracked and not tracked...I will guarantee that unless it is a design or material shortcoming, a street car will ALWAYS see higher failure rates. Why? Because track cars see far more frequent and thorough maintenance vs your average poseur that is driving around until the dash tells him/her to change the oil. So your logic of if it happens on the street, it must happen more on the track is incorrect.
A VANOS only blows up if you keep driving it with a rattle and never fix it. M54s will pull out cam bolts as well. With an M3...you don't have to worry about your cooling system suddenly exploding.
Yes, it is the harmonics. In my discussion with a very experience engine builder who built baja racers and marine engines and has 25 years of experience...there is an inherent harmonic issue with the M54. Bolting stuff on helps mask the issue but its still there.
I think you did it the right way and I would have done the engine just as you did. Balancing goes a long way to reducing the harmonics. But I'm looking at the complete picture, not just the engine. And the M3 gets to me to a higher level for less money. I'm not saying my 330 wasn't fun and fast, it was. But I'm not willing to keep spending to keep it on the track sacrificing seat time. People who go to the track are generally very intelligent, not very easy to outsmart them. I'm willing to be a good chunk are accomplished engineers. So I really asked myself, "Why am I the only one who consistently shows up and drives a non-M BMW?"
Let talk lap times. I ran a 1:47:68 in my 330 at MSR Houston. It was at 3260, no driver, full tank. I did a 1:45:69 in an E90 M3 with OE dampers and 3700 lbs. The 330 actually has more power (torque and low peak but more area under the curve). I feel like I could maybe drop a second in my 330 on that lap time. I'm confident if I throw some coilovers on and drop 200 lbs (easy to do) in my E90, I'd drop another 2-3 seconds, being conservative.
Another lesson learned? You really do have to spend a LOT of money to make a non-M better than an M. Might as well buy the M from the beginning...and that's my one real regret.
2013 F30 328i - Melbourne Red
2011 E90 M3 - Monte Carlo Blue
2004 E46 M3 - Imola red
Last edited by bigjae1976; 02-15-2013 at 06:51 PM.