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Old 06-29-2011, 01:11 PM   #1
Elephant1
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Thumbs Up E46 Project....a meek 323i can be better

Several years ago (I think later in 2007) I picked up a nice lower mileage 5spd 323i for my wife to use as a daily driver (she dislikes autos about as much as I do). She was driving quite a few miles at the time and we wanted an interim car fill the gap left by turning in our leased Chevy Trailblazer (blagh, what a ginormous POS) over a year early.

I was moderately impressed with the car though it was clearly underpowered and less than exciting to drive. Fortunately due to the nasty dirt roads we have to drive on to get in and out of our sub it only took about 8 months for the stock suspension to give up the ghost. I jumped at the chance to make several changes to the car (stock is never good enough right?).

Course a motivating factor was that my racecar was under reconstruction and I knew I'd need a car for some track time...but that's between us.

So the quick list........

1. AST4100's (went soft at 400/500 since it's her car, didn't want her to complain) with camber plates and bearing RSM's
2. UUC Swaybars
3. UUC Corsa exhaust (full version)
4. EVOSport underdrive pullies
5. TMS/Conforti Shark Injector
6. UUC short shift kit, clutch and brake lines
7. Upgraded street rubber, 225/50/16's

Naturally I did some maintenance as well....control arms (Lemfoerder only!), new CAB's (OEM Lems at the time), other various bushings, brakes, etc.

All in all it was quite a transformation and I did all of it in one weekend including the alignment. Naturally on Monday morning she noticed. Her only complaint was that the exahust was suddenly louder. I did cave and explain that I replaced the stock exhaust....she didn't mention it again that but I noticed new shoes and clothes shortly thereafter.....Anyway, she was fine with the suspension which was great. That was my biggest concern of course since it was most important to me for track use. ; )

I managed to sneak in a few DE's in the car and it performed very well, it was much better to drive after the upgrades vs before. The exhaust sounds mean, very nice, especially at start up on cool mornings....very throaty. Being an engineer with a lot of NVH experience I appreciate the design work that Corsa does with developing their sound, quite appealing IMO.

So the car stayed in this condition for most of the year. That fall since it was to become a winter driver again and I would not need a track car I decided to undo most of the changes. Mainly I went back to a near stock suspension but left the other stuff. I returned to stock springs and sways with Bilstein HD's. I gotta say it was incredibly disappointing from a ride quality standpoint. I expected a softer ride but also one that was more isolated. Basically it was quite harsh and then soft on top of that. Bummer, major bummer.

The car has been in this state for the last 2+ years....until now.........

More to come including pics and details!

Cheers.
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Old 06-30-2011, 10:54 AM   #2
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Here's pics as it sits currently. Notice tire/fender gap...Gack!!







More to come after I start doing some work. Cheers.
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Old 06-30-2011, 11:13 AM   #3
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check this out

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=806454
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Old 06-30-2011, 03:03 PM   #4
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I'd say put the swaybars back on and grab a set of Eibach Pro-Kit springs on your Bilsteins, should be a nice improvement in roll resistance and ride height without beating you up. I would never have considered a setup like that, but the previous owner of my ZHP had them and they work great, I'm running them during the winter. (when the ASTs are hiding from the snow...)
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Old 07-01-2011, 09:45 AM   #5
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Yeah, I forgot to mention this car is no longer a daily car. This and our now sold E38 have been replaced with his and hers E39 540 6spds. Thus it is a new toy/project for me. The Bilsteins are pretty tired and I definitely want to go back to the AST's, they were soooooo much better even on the crap dirt roads here.

Basic list I'm planning on......

1. AST 4100's with CCP, urethane RSM's. Will do 570/680 Swift springs w/tenders and bearings, ZHP front sway bar, stock rear
2. weight reduction...AC compressor is toast so will remove that, some other things but not too much
3. D Force 17x8 LTW5 with Nitto NT01's
4. I have a line on a set of Alcon front brakes so if the price is right I'll do that, otherwise probably do 330 upgrade
5. Chibay headers....why not
6. a few other things yet TBD.

I won't have any updates til after the holiday weekend, got some family plans so no car work this weekend.

Cheers.
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Last edited by Elephant1; 07-01-2011 at 09:50 AM.
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Old 07-01-2011, 02:20 PM   #6
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good luck with it!
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Old 07-02-2011, 11:43 AM   #7
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Give up that exhaust if you get headers, otherwise good luck.
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Old 07-02-2011, 09:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iceman00 View Post
Give up that exhaust if you get headers, otherwise good luck.
Whyzzat?
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Old 07-03-2011, 03:15 PM   #9
Steven747
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with headers the uuc will be much t loud and you will not want to drive your car at all! so sell it to me
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Old 07-05-2011, 02:27 PM   #10
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With relatively soft springs, you'll definitely want those UUC bars back in there, and crank 'em up! (ok, full stiff might be too much)

Also why such small wheels? 17x9 will fit easily and shouldn't cost much more.
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Old 07-05-2011, 03:26 PM   #11
Elephant1
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Originally Posted by steven747 View Post
with headers the uuc will be much t loud and you will not want to drive your car at all! so sell it to me
Not really concerned about being too loud. Well, what I mean is I'm willing to take the risk, we'll see how that turns out. ; )

Cheers.
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Old 07-05-2011, 03:32 PM   #12
Elephant1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by murph1379 View Post
With relatively soft springs, you'll definitely want those UUC bars back in there, and crank 'em up! (ok, full stiff might be too much)

Also why such small wheels? 17x9 will fit easily and shouldn't cost much more.
Well, I'm gonna start off a bit milder if you will. I'm going to use the ZHP front bar with the stock rear bar. Springs will be 570/680 so we'll see how this does to start. The goal is that it should still be a streetable car.

For wheels....the 8in wheels will suffice for a 235/40 tire which is what I plan to run. Plus, thought not a huge difference, they are ~2lbs lighter than the 9". They do cost a little less as well but again, I'm trying to stick with all reasonable and milder upgrades. I think this fits within that scope.

Cheers.
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Old 07-06-2011, 04:49 PM   #13
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Eh, do what you feel, but I assure you that wider wheels and tires, and the swaybars to control them, won't cause problems on the street, and will help the car perform better, and improve the life of your tires. (wider tires won't be punished quite as badly by the porky E46, and controlling the roll will mean you won't shred the outside edge all the time)

The big harshness adders that get annoying on the street are 18"+ wheels, stiff motor/trans mounts, loud exhaust, and fixed back seats.

I drive a nationally competitive STX class autocross ZHP to work every day. In a suit. I know this particular subject pretty well.
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Old 07-07-2011, 02:29 PM   #14
Elephant1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by murph1379 View Post
Eh, do what you feel, but I assure you that wider wheels and tires, and the swaybars to control them, won't cause problems on the street, and will help the car perform better, and improve the life of your tires. (wider tires won't be punished quite as badly by the porky E46, and controlling the roll will mean you won't shred the outside edge all the time)

The big harshness adders that get annoying on the street are 18"+ wheels, stiff motor/trans mounts, loud exhaust, and fixed back seats.

I drive a nationally competitive STX class autocross ZHP to work every day. In a suit. I know this particular subject pretty well.
Yeah, there's always room for improvement so perhaps a bit further down the road this might be the case. I had this car on the track a couple years ago and though it had the UUC bars it had much lighter springs and it did fairly well. I'm pretty good at keeping tire wear quite even, particularly with Toyo-like tires so I'm not too worried about that.

Once I hit the track with it I'll size up the roll. If it's more than I care to stand then I'll upgrade the bar(s).

Thanks, I appreciate the comments and input.

Cheers.
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Old 07-19-2011, 01:58 PM   #15
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Doing some research on oil cooler set ups. Seems the 323 (and I suppose 328 also) have bastard syndrome as typical solutions do not fit. Mainly speaking of the oil filter housing of course. Still looking but if anyone has a suggestion I'd like to hear it. I mean besides the Motorsport part. Thanks.

EDIT: Looks like I'll be ok but still looking at options.
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Old 08-27-2011, 06:43 PM   #16
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245/40/17's is what I run on my 17s
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Old 11-09-2011, 02:40 PM   #17
Elephant1
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Let's blow some dust off this thread.....

No real work as of yet, just been too darn busy. I've managed to collect some parts here and there though. Also managed to get rid of some stuff.

Sold the snow tires, summer wheels/tires (16's), and a few misc bits. Still to sell is all the airbag stuff, airbag steering wheel, couple other bits.

Have collected so far.....MOMO Competition steering wheel, ZHP front sway bar, RTABS's and limiters, chibay headers, couple other misc things. I'm looking to do a little work this week, hopefully the headers for one. I'm also shopping for an M54 intake manifold. Still wondering if the oil filter housing from other Mxx motors will fit, anyone know? I can't seem to find anything definitive.

Anyway, again, not a lot yet but looking forward to getting a few things done soon.

Cheers.
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Old 12-09-2011, 12:42 AM   #18
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??
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Old 12-28-2011, 02:45 PM   #19
Elephant1
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Blowing more dust off....but not much. Still doing some part collecting and recently moved to a new shop, been organizing and trying to get rid of some unneeded parts. Holidays and some travel have also put a big drag on things. I will need to do the headers soon as I seem to have some sort of leak between the exhaust and stock manifolds, it's getting a bit annoying. I'd like to do the intake at the same time but still need to source one (330 version).

I still want to know what others have done for oil coolers on these motors. I've seen very, very little. Has anyone ever compared a stock oil cooler housing to that from any other M5X motor....like maybe euro E36 or E46 M3? I'm still wondering if this would bolt up in place of the stock unit.

Anyway, moving slowly........

Cheers.
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Old 01-26-2012, 09:43 PM   #20
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I like this thread, i'm autocrossing my 323 coupe and i'll be watching. Mine is stock tho, and i really like how it performs stock, chassis seems stiffer than my e36 with suspension and sway bars, but i might be overthinking it.

Reason i'm posting is i gotta question, how do you like the car without the LSD as far as DE's go? I'm not looking to do any DE's yet, just autocross, but i'd like to get some opinions if you don't mind.
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