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The Showroom
This is the place to show off your BMW to other members of the community. Post pictures and videos of your car and the modifications you have done to it. If you need a picture of something on a coupe, sedan, convertible or touring you will probably find it here!

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Old 10-05-2017, 12:05 PM   #81
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continued from above

When I got out of the car I could smell just a hint of coolant. Even though we have purged this coolant system of any traces of anti-freeze, and all we put in is distilled water and Motul "MoCool" additive, it seems like you never really get ALL of the old stuff out. I could hear just a small hiss of steam, so I popped the hood and it was coming from a tiny pinhole in the plastic coolant reservoir tank. Almost impossible to see, buried at the bottom of the engine bay.

The thicker aftermarket radiator core was pushes the plastic reservoir a tiny bit closer to the engine, and with some uncontrolled radiator movement the tank started to rub into the power steering pulley - under heavy braking, I guess? The same exact thing happened at TWS last year, and way back in 2011 on my blue 330 with the same radiator setup.

I was now on the clock - it was past 3:15 pm on Friday when I found the issue, and I needed a new reservoir, fast. Called our shop manager Brad and he started calling around - he found one at a WorldPac warehouse 32 miles north, in a rough part of Houston. They were supposed to close at 5:30 pm, so we quickly unhooked the trailer, hopped in the dually and raced north. We got there fighting the worst Houston 5 o'clock traffic I've ever seen at 5:12 pm, whew!

Traffic was still VERY BAD. It was going to take nearly two hours to get back down to the track, and by then it would be pitch dark. We re-routed, picked up several gallons of distilled water, headed to the hotel, and decided to get to the track right before dawn and change out the tank (its a 5-15 minute fix, if you have light). At least we got to eat some good food in Pearland at an old favorite - Los Cucos, Tex Mex.


We got to the track very early, and it was foggy and dark. The cooling system was cold so I started to get the old reservoir off. Its a series of quick disconnects for several coolant hoses and attachment at the radiator neck, 5 connections total.

I was fighting with the new tank install when I had to run off to an instructor meeting at 7:20, then a TT meeting at 7:40. I had enough time after that to get the tank on, refill with distilled water, let the car idle and hopefully "burp" coolant. I then secured the radiator with a big mess of zip ties, and yes it looked janky. I would have swapped on the "gold" wheels, but time was too tight, so I ran the old set from practice. It was just the Saturday TT warm-up, and any times taken would only count for gridding in the 2nd TT session (which would then count for times/classes).

I got to the grid, got strapped and ready with the 5 minute warning, engine warming up... then the coolant temps spiked - it had burped out another air pocket. Shut engine off, coasted back to the paddock. Popped the cap, refilled it again with more water (and one more time later that day) to get the system bled and filled. Back to grid, no more cooling problems. Then we waited for 30 minutes...

Left: MSR-H just a few weeks earlier was under water. Right: Same section of track "dry"

Turns out the Hurricane Harvey had flooded the track weeks earlier, and this led to electrical gremlins with the timing system during this event. The AMB timing loop wasn't working consistently. A crew of guys was frantically working to patch the timing loop, hoping there was a break. Both the Primary and Secondary loops were failing to register transponder pings. At one point they finally sent us out for the TT Warm Up, telling us it was fixed. The TT group was gridded randomly and I was stuck behind a lot of traffic when we went out, but I fought my way through and found lots of time on the old tires - according to my AiM lap timer. I was finally into the 1:50 range, inching closer to that "cold" TTD record for the CCW course. Was finding ways of driving around the aero imbalance, but it was still very limiting.

I thought about pulling the entire splitter Saturday night, otherwise I might lose this class of 5 TTD cars with the aero imbalance issue. There were a couple of "dyno-reclassed" engine swapped, gutted race cars in TTD that I had never seen before. The track was still a bit moist from the morning fog/dew, so I came in after the traffic got really bad, not happy with my times but knowing that the sticker/new tire set would help and the fog would burn off before lunch. Sunday morning is always the "money session" anyway. Once back to the paddock Amy said the live timing system "...Race Hero didn't show any times for anyone". Hmm, that's odd, must be a communications problem? Got to grid for my HPDE1 student. And we waited for 45 minutes while they again furiously worked on the timing system again... So we didn't get any official times from the TT warm-up?

This went on all morning - no functional timers, frantic work, sending out cars to test the loop, and yet no times. HPDE folks had no issues because they get no times anyway. W2W groups didn't have a qualifying session and instead gridded for races after lunch by season points, but they got to race (they had a gang of volunteers hand scoring every lap, showing which cars passed start/finish in what order). But we were assured the timers would be working after lunch, so I swapped onto the gold wheels and newer tires. Got to grid for the first afternoon TT session, another long wait. When they sent us out I found a lot of time in the afternoon heat, knocking on the door of the old record with some 1:49.0 laps. Got some good passes in, figured I'd place grid really well later in session 4, might sneak into 1st, and have some good video/data to crunch over night. Sunday morning I could get this track layout in my brain, see some faster times in the cooler weather...

Wait, what? Once again the timers didn't work, and they were down for the rest of Saturday. TT was officially scrubbed, with no times, no results, no points, and no contingency for the day. Damn it, and we finally had 5 in class. The fastest "unknown" TTD car left broken on a flat bed and wouldn't be back for Sunday. So I might not have 5 in class tomorrow, but at least we'd have timers by then. They had a whole new AMB timing loop being brought in, after patching both the primary and secondary loops in the track AND moving the karting track's loop over with no luck - it wasn't for a lack of trying. They said they'd "work all night" on the timing system if they had to, get it fixed, no worries. We had surprisingly good Thai food for dinner, then went to see Kingsman 2. Turns out Pearland is actually pretty nice little town, just about 25 minutes from the track.


If you aren't seeing the "HPDE 5" notes above, that's what we were calling the Untimed Time Trial group. Our luck did not improve - We never had functional no timers on Sunday, so the entire TT weekend was scrubbed for us. We could run if we wanted, but with no results. Really really disappointing to come this far and get no times. There was no back-up means of timing TT, either, we were just S.O.L. I never took a lap on Sunday - what was the point? I had already put a wasted session on a sticker set of tires for no results.

I tried to stay positive and spent the day working with my HPDE1 student, then coached with two more: a DE3 guy in a S550 Mustang and a DE4 guy in a Corvette. My new wired helmet comm system worked great with all 3 guys, and we all saw some good driving and time improvements in the very hot weather. We loaded up the BMW that afternoon and after a lot of sweat and work, headed home.

Its just a bitter ending to what became an extended test weekend. Our last TTD event in this car here was just not going to happen. The fuel pump test was successful, we have narrowed down the recurring coolant reservoir issue, and the front downforce test was proven, too - the splitter made way too much impact, and let me know that it would need a wing to balance this out, and quickly.


A few days after that event we brought the car to True Street for the dyno check, which I showed above, which just added further disappointment. We then measured the chassis for width (68.9" wide, minus mirrors) and immediately ordered a wing for use in TT4 (68.5" wide). AJ Hartman is making this carbon fiber element now and we will show the new wing instillation next time.

The TT4 wing mount will be similar to the E46 M3 wing on the V8 car above (same width as the car, 8" above roof), but with some changes for possible "production" manufacture. I'd just use AJ's uprights but they are tailored for BMWCCA, much lower than NASA allows. We're gonna shoot max allowed width, max allowed height. The endplates will need to be smaller but otherwise pretty similar to the M3 setup.

Before the next event we will trim the front splitter just a bit, to get all of our ducks in a row for TT4. We are signed up for NASA @ NOLA for Oct 27-29, where we will go down on Thursday to be able to run the Friday test day. We will probably step up to 275 R7 tires (max size allowed in TT4), yank all 115 pounds of rear ballast, and jump right into TT4 class - under powered and over weight. We can then work on dialing in the new wing's AoA to get some aero balance in high speed corners, which NOLA has in abundance. There's no prayer of winning TT4 in this car yet, but it will give us an idea of how the class is looking and give us some goals to shoot for in 2018.

Thanks for reading!
Terry Fair @ Vorshlag

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Old 11-10-2017, 03:20 PM   #82
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Project update for November 10th, 2017: Last time we had a record FIVE PART forum thread update here - and that was only a month ago. And this time... well, its another FIVE part post, so you better grab a snack.

As you can see above our TTD E46 has jumped up two classes to TT4, then we raced it with NASA at NOLA Motorsports Park - with somewhat shocking results. We will cover the latest round of mods (Big Wang!) that pushed this build out of TTD class (a class that is going away in 2018 ) and then chronicle the race NOLA race weekend at the end.

We also need to catch up with work done to the 328i Track Rat dual purpose build we couldn't fit in last time (including 17x10" wheels RS4 tires, above left), and we have recently completed a huge round of repairs to the black 325 automatic we bought earlier this year (above right) - soon to be a Daily Driver for Amy so we can LS swap her Scion FR-S. So once again we have a lot to cover!


We started building this 328i in 2016 "on spec" as a dual purpose street/track car, but heavily track focused. We tackled the suspension, brakes, roll bar, chassis reinforcement, and more. Last time we covered the many changes to the interior and safety bits that were upgraded.


We had planned on selling this car with a set of 17x8" Jongbloed 3-piece wheels and Hoosier race tires we had in the shop from another project. When our customer Jeremy saw the car he loved it, but liked the 17x10" Forgestar F14 wheels and flares on our red 330, so we ordered up another set of raw wheels and HARD Motorsport flares.

This set of flares was specific to the E46 non-M sedan chassis. These were mocked up on the front fenders and marked on the paint to see where to trim the fender lips. The mounting holes for the bolt-on/rivet-on flares were also marked and drilled in both the flare and fender.

There was a slight bit of trimming to perfect the fit. After the front fender lip was cut off (at the lower marked edge of where the flare touched the body) they were then riveted in place using the black aluminum rivets included in the kit.

The rear is obviously a lot more work than the front, as these pictures show. We went over this on our red 330 but we took a few more pictures this time. The flares are mocked up and the top and bottom edges are marked, then the outer skin of the rear fender was cut off at the flare's lower edge. The inner structure of the rear fender was then pie cut and folded out 90 to meet the outer edge. These were then welded to the outer skin and the "flaps" were cut off.

The inner structure was then seam welded to the outer fender skin and made waterproof with seam sealer. This is a significant amount of welding that should not be ignored. The structural integrity of the rear of the unibody relies on this outer skin to be welded to the inner skin - don't skip this step.

The fender area was then primed and the flares were riveted on. As you can see the sedan uses some extra pieces that tie into the rear doors, but the structural changes for tire clearance are all done on the rear fender area (the door is not cut). We took the picture above right with these flares and a real E46 M3, and you can see they are nearly identical.


Picking the wheels and tires for this dual purpose street/track car looked at three main variables: cost, grip and wear. The tire options for 17" wheels are less costly than 18" versions, but the width options run out above 255mm width. While we could probably have run an 18x10" wheel and the popular 285/30/18 size under these flares, the customer wanted the more cost effective 17" tire option for this set.

In the 255/40/17 size there are many options to choose from, but for what this car needed to do (drive to and from the track and also put in a lot of quick laps), these two stood out: Bridgestone RE-71R and Hankook R-S4. The price of the RS-4 was a tick lower and it seems to wear better than the RE-71R, but look at the difference in tread width and section widths. The R-S4 is nearly 0.5" wider! Stretched out onto the 10" wide wheel the wider 9.4" tread width of the Hankook will be able to put more rubber on the ground and costs $130 less per set (at the time of this writing). The softer compound of the RE-71R might make up for this width deficit, but the wear would very likely be higher.

The wheel choice was rather easy since we get most of our custom built wheels from Forgestar. We also work with D-Force on flow formed BMW wheels, and their 18x10" option is a nice setup, but he wanted 17" tires so we chose Forgestar. We also work with some other higher cost companies for custom wheel sizes but the price point wasn't right for this build. We ordered a set of 17x10" F14 wheels identical to what we used on our 330, requesting them in a "raw" finish to save time getting them built. One of our local vendors powder coated them with a flat textured black finish, which looks great clean or dirty. The RS-4 tires were mounted and balanced up and of course we got a wheel and tire weight.


In this section we will show the oiling system upgrades, cooling system changes, custom brake cooling, new belts/hoses, Vorshlag motor/trans mounts, new Motul fluids, plus some other small repairs and a few more little restoration jobs. That's a lot of work, and some of this was done before we sold the car and some completed after, but I'll go over these tasks quickly.

A Mishimoto aluminum radiator was installed along with new E46 radiator hoses, heater hoses, and a water pump. The Mishimoto upgrade is cheap insurance that we do to any track E46. This removes any plastic from the radiator and adds system volume and heat shedding ability with the thicker aluminum core.

A new internal seal and a fresh steering rack boot stopped one last power steering leak.

As is usually the case the original hydraulic fluid filled motor mounts were toast, and one side had separated completely. This accelerates a lot of the hoses/radiator leaks on these cars - the unrestrained engine, flopping around the engine bay, yanking on all of the hoses.

Our competition motor and trans mounts went in place, with Nylon motor and Red poly trans mounts being the preferred combination on this heavily track-centric car.

A spare M54 oil pan was already on hand so it was cleaned in the ultrasonic tank at our engine shop, HorsePower-Research (HPR); we keep a spare pan around for these baffle installs because we do them so often. The engine on this 328 was then supported from above with a beam style engine bay stand, and the crossmember was dropped. Then the stock oil pan was removed.

An oil pan baffle from VAC was ordered and fitted to the oil pan. There is always a bit of trimming, fiddling, then some TIG welding to install these. A very worthwhile upgrade for road course use - prevents long high-g corners from starving the oil pump pick-up in the pan.

Another very worthwhile upgrade for track use is a beefier oil pump drive shaft. We picked the VAC unit and swapped that in place of the OEM bits, which had a loose nut on the shaft and was bound to come off. There are other brands and styles but regardless - upgrade the oil pump shaft on any track abused M54 to avoid complete oil pressure loss. Ask me how I know this!

The OEM balancer is usually a cause for alarm for track use, but this one proved to be in perfect shape. No cracks in the rubber isolator ring and it had not "slipped" relative to the hub, so it was re-used (with the customer's consent).

To finish off the maintenance a full change with Motul ester based synthetic oil, Wix oil filter, and Gates belts were installed.

Early on in the build I decided to replace the exhaust with a Magnaflow stainless cat-back system. This system fit great except right at the dual tip opening in the rear bumper cover. That was trimmed to match the wider exhaust tips and now looks OEM.


On a road course you have to use the brakes, a lot, creating a lot of heat. To keep the rotors, calipers, pads and fluid in the proper operating range you should really think about positive pressure brake cooling. The OEM brake cooling from BMW is barely better than nothing, and the E46 non-M has poor brake cooling support from the aftermarket, so we set out to develop something for the E46 330 front brakes (which we have on the front of this 328i).

continued below
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Old 11-10-2017, 03:26 PM   #83
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continued from above

For the prototype setup we made the backing plates and ducts at the hub from aluminum, hand cut and TIG welded together. If/when we make a production version it will be made from stainless steel and CNC laser cut, but for a one-off aluminum works fine. The backing plate is designed to push as much air inside the rotor face, to cool the hubs then be sucked through the vented rotor like an air pump. We went with a 3" oval opening, to keep almost 100% of the airflow inside the rotor face. The closeness of the backing plate to the rotor face is to help seal the hub area to the ducting, so air won't go around the rotor but instead through it.

Once the backing plates were welded they were bolted in place and 3" high temp brake duct hose was attached to the oval inlets on the backing plates. These need to be fed from a high pressure zone at the front of the car, which we will show below.

We need to feed high pressure cooling air to the backing plates, and that air comes from the front of the car. Since the customer did not want to switch to the E46 M3 nose - which has better brake inlet options - we re-used the OEM inlets in the lower grill.

Again, the OEM setup has some brake ducting, but it just dumps air into the inner fender. We wanted to keep the forward inlet sections that seal to the front nose but re-route into hoses that run along the front swaybar. Above you can see where a "bite" was taken out of the OEM outlet, which puts cooling area "near" the hub area. As the tire turns it cuts off that supply, so we needed a re-route ahead of that point.

The smooth plastic rectangular duct work from the factory also incorporates some of the inner fender liner. These are actually very well made, but the original bits from this car were long smashed and/or missing. So a pair of new ducts was purchased from BMW. These molded plastic parts have rubber flaps at the front to better seal to the bumper cover's rectangular openings.

About a third of the back sections of these new ducts were cut off, then some aluminum oval tubing sections were fabricated, shaped, and riveted into the rectangular ducts at the rear - pointing them away from the fender liner and tire.

The pictures above show the modified front inlet duct work installed, and the diverted section that normally cools the alternator (which seems a bit silly) was blocked off to force all of the air into the brakes. The 3" high temp hose was slid over the rear...

The hoses were secured with 3" worm gear clamps and the brake cooling was complete. Doesn't look impressive externally, since the front inlets are stock, but it definitely pushes some air through the rotors and keeps the brakes and front hubs cooler. This front duct work was so customized it is not likely that we will make production "inlet duct kit", but maybe some E46 owners will see what we did and make their own home brew versions.


The Forgestar F14 17x10" wheels and tires + the HARD Motorsport flares really wake up the look of this car, and the added grip will definitely be felt on track. We got a final weight with all of the work completed and were pretty happy with the results.

The before and after pictures say a lot there. This car is now 344 pounds lighter yet is still street legal, emissions complaint, has functional air conditioning and heat, lights and wipers, and all of the factory glass. The wheels are all 2" wider than stock, suspension is much firmer, brakes are bigger and cooled, oiling system upgraded, and tons of deferred maintenance has been completed.

Jon cut a little vinyl per the customer's request and Brad got it all cleaned up. I'm happy with the finished results, as we took a rather plebeian 328i and turned it into a lighter, more nimble, better stopping track car that can still be street driven.

The customer has since wrapped the roof (which hides the carbon delete panel fairly well), added the factory undertray bits, plus a few other upgrades. This 328i has already seen several weekends of track use and the owner loves it. He can drive to the track with cold air blowing and the windows rolled up, then get there and let 'er rip. This ended up with more of a dedicated track car interior than what we had on our 330, and made for more of a "dual purpose" build than even our red car as well (we've now stopped street driving our TT4 car).


Earlier in 2017 I picked up a "problem child" E46 coupe from a former customer who was just tired of dealing with maintenance issues. We used to be his shop of preference back in 2011-13, but when our shop moved from North to South Plano the distance just got too great and he stopped coming to us for service. He ended up getting the run around from a "normal repair shop", the type of place where they mark up the parts 500% and charge way too much for service work. Repairs bills with $800 starter replacements started wearing him down.

That kind of repair bill terrorism sucks, and I felt bad for the guy. When this car was under our care we took good care of it, and even upgraded the stock wheels to 17x8.5" D-Force wheels, replaced the A-, B-, and C-pillar interior panels, and did all sorts of maintenance. We have since steered away from doing "basic maintenance work", because unless you are willing to rip people off its a tough business to make money in. Now we do more track prep, suspension, chassis, safety, and fabrication work - which still doesn't make any money, but at least it is fun!

So back in the spring he called me and said he wanted to unload it. His kid had kind of driven the car hard and it wasn't nearly as pretty as it was when we last saw it, 3 years earlier. It ran very rough, had a bent wheel, and needed many repairs. I bought it and hauled to the shop to get it cleaned up and running better.

Facebook just reminded me today that eight years ago I bought my first E46 (actually two on the same day). At this point I've stopped counting the E46 cars that have "followed me home", but they always leave our care in better shape then when we got them. That silver 328i above was transformed, and even Jack Daniels left cleaner and better running than before. Well this black 325 was barely running with a massive intake leak, plus that bent wheel. I figured this one would be an easy fix. Of course I was wrong!


The M54 family of engines has a "dual tract" intake manifold, with a "DISA" valve after the throttle body. This valve switches between a long and even longer set of runners on the intake manifold. These valves are notorious for sticking and worse - falling apart and being ingested inside the engine. This one was literally falling apart, and luckily hadn't been eaten yet. It was leaking badly at the mount on the manifold, which is why it ran so poorly.

We learned that the M54B30 DISA valve we had from another 330 motor doesn't fit the smaller 2.5L M54B25, so it was time to rebuild the original DISA unit in this car. Like always I ordered the repair/upgrade kit from German Auto Solutions (I am not a dealer nor do I have any affiliation with them), shown above. This replaces a bunch of janky plastic parts with stronger, machined parts made from better materials for about $75. These are the features right from their website:
  • The plastic flapper valve has been replaced with a black anodized & stress relieved 6061-T6 aluminum flapper valve that is twice as strong and many times less brittle than the stock part it replaces.
  • The plastic crank lever has been replaced with a black anodized 6061-T6 aluminum bell crank lever that is four times stronger than the stock part it replaces.
  • The flapper valve and lever lock together on a precision machined hex shaped taper & are screwed together, instead of just snapped together like the original design. Locking the parts together prevents any possible movement and wear between the two pieces, the #1 cause of failure in the stock design.
  • The parts are securely locked together by a custom, light weight, titanium pivot screw that's held captive from outside the housing. The titanium pivot screw also replaces the stock steel pin of the original design. Since the pin is part of the pivot screw, and the pivot screw is held captive from outside the DISA housing, there is no longer a possibility of a steel pin coming loose and getting sucked into the engine
We do this upgrade on virtually all M54 cars we build to race or to street drive. For $75 in parts you can prevent catastrophic engine failure, and in this case make the car run 1000 times better. This should be on the list for ALL E46 CARS PURCHASED.

These new parts + an upgraded Viton O-ring (also from GAS) were installed into the old DISA valve then it went back into the intake. And it ran smooth as glass! The wheel was repaired and looks as good as new, too. Still had some leaks to fix...


I want to make this slushbox equipped E46 coupe into a nice, reliable, smooth riding commuter car for my wife. Her commute is pretty crappy and has a lot of stop and go traffic, so the automatic might be a nice change from her normal manually shifted cars. So to keep it simple we're NOT upgrading the brakes, suspension, or engine beyond new stock parts.

This engine has the normal leaks and the first place we often look is the valve cover gasket. Sure enough this rubber gasket had turned into a brick, cracked, and was leaking badly.

With a new gasket, spark plugs and some engine bay pressure washing once it was buttoned up the engine was now leaking much less. We're keeping an eye on the now clean engine looking for additional leaks to tackle, but for now its a whole lot better. Some vacuum lines were also replaced at the same time.

The old battery was a massive lead acid unit, which was very old and was not holding a charge. This poor car sat at our shop for 2 months waiting for a break in the schedule and was driven out of the shop and back in every day, so that didn't help the battery's life. This new Bosch unit is the same size as the OEM battery and tips the scales at 47.2 pounds!

The suspension was pretty tired, not necessarily from the miles (160K) but the age and use (it was 100% part of a daily driver grind). So new OEM replacement control arms, LCA bushings, inner and outer tie rods, swabar end links, top mounts and drivetrain mounts were ordered. The old ball joints and bushings on the control arms were hammered, but the new bits fix all of that. Normally I will always go to Powerflex 2-piece LCA bushings at the very least, but this time I went with stock. Should ride smooth like butter!

continued below
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Old 11-10-2017, 03:28 PM   #84
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continued from above

The stock motor mounts (see old vs new, above left) and strut top mounts (also old vs new, above right) were both worn and "shrunken" over time. This is what happens to rubber after 13+ years - and we went back with stock bits on these parts as well. Rare for me, but we have ZERO delusions of this car ever seeing track use.

The rear brakes looked fine but the front rotors and pads were done, so those got replaced with Centric Premium rotors and Centric branded ceramic "ultra-quiet" something-or-other pads.

Brad pressure washed the aluminum chassis brace (which was covered in oil) and then wrapped up the front suspension repairs. This shot is without the plastic front undertray installed (its still intact on this car). We took the car home after this round of work and... the transmission started slipping badly after about 30 miles of driving. First automatic E46 I've ever bought and of course its bad! Since I have a low mileage GM E46 trans laying around, of course this car has the ZF automatic - which has outrageous rebuild prices ($2000-4000, ha!) I will talk about that issue and subsequent repairs next time.


You made it through the work on the silver 328 and the stock black 325 above, so now we finally get to talk about the red 330! Last time we covered a ton of work to the front of the car - new bumper beam, M3 bumper cover, inlet ducts, brake backing plates, splitter, air dam and tire walls. We took it to MSR-Houston and.... had a massive aero imbalance. All front df, no back aero, not hard to imagine, right? What would fix this aero imbalance - nothing less than a massive rear wing.

We were out of points for TTD mods, thanks to the re-write of the base classing in 2016, otherwise we would have done this full aero build TWO YEARS AGO and been much faster this whole time. Since TTD goes away next year, we were way ahead of the season long 2017 regional TTD championship back in June, and since no TT cars got points at MSR-H due to timer issues, we had a lock on the regional TTD class championship. So we decided to test the waters in next year's class early - TT4.

There were a few small repairs and updates needed but the bulk of this work was all about the rear wing.


We started out by replacing the front windshield, which had a massive crack in it on the passenger side, which was growing.

Since we no longer had plans to ever street drive this car we could get the less costly, thinner glass windshield without the "Rain Sensor". $130 installed, no more crack, no more pitting, perfect.


The wobble on the top of the radiator on this 330 (which has allowed the coolant reservoir to rock back into the power steering pulley) was finally traced (by looking at some other E46 models) to some missing upper rubber bushings that were never on this car when we bought it. These screw down into the top of the stock radiator and keep it in place. The spots they would be are now where we have the pins mounted for the AeroCatch latches for the hood, so we cannot just add those rubber knobs back.

So I asked Aaron to make these aluminum brackets (just inboard of the hood pins, above) that bolt to the radiator support and "capture" the trailing edge of the top of the Mishimoto and keep it from moving. Some rubber pads keep the aluminum bracket from wearing through the radiator - we'd see how this worked at NOLA. I brought a spare coolant reservoir with us just in case.


We had read the TT4 aero rules very carefully a few weeks earlier and had ordered an AJ Hartman Aero carbon fiber wing element to fit the limit of the class - which can be as wide as "the maximum width of the car" and placed "no more than 8 inches above the roof line".

There are no other wing element or mounting limitations. We measured the stock bodied 2003 325Ci Coupe width at 69" at the rear fender lips (we have to ignore the side mirrors), then ordered the 14" chord wing at 68-1/2" wide, to have a bit of margin for measuring error. Now it was time to make uprights using the basic shape and height of the E46 Chainsaw Massacre build's wing.

Ryan had fabricated the uprights for the M3 by hand, and it took a big chunk of time to make all of those interior cuts. This time I asked Aaron to make the set for my 330, and we worked with Jason to simplify the trunk mounting points and removed the extended lower bumper beam section. We moved the wing forward a hair but kept the same basic height. The first mock-up were made in fiber board, shown above.

After I sketched what I wanted changed from the mock-up he was able to get that into CAD, make some CNC plasma cut uprights, and incorporated a slot-and-key feature I wanted with some load spreading mounting plates. These four slotted mounting plates self-jigged into the keys of the uprights to make fabrication easier and more repeatable.

This worked perfectly and the mounting plates were tack welded to the uprights on the car. These were then removed and finish TIG welded on the bench, with a good bit of heat. The mounting holes were countersunk and flush mounted hardware was used to secure them to the trunk from the inside.

This was all designed in up front but to verify legality we moved the wing to maximum Angle of Attack (AoA) before stall (12) and using a level from the rear of the wing and an 8" tall box on the top of the roof, we were within the limit of the rules. We set the AoA to 6 based on some calculations and speculations as to the effective downforce of the front splitter. We could dial the rear wing to balance the front at the track soon.

The wide angle lens makes this wing look much bigger than the car, but it is in fact 1/2" narrower than the stock fender lips, and well within the limits of the class. The end plates were direct copies of the somewhat subdued units from the V8 M3, and also well within the limits of TT4 class rules.


Moving to TT4 means we would be massively overweight with the power we currently have (210 whp avg, or 216 whp peak) for TTD - hell, we were 30 whp down for TTD, but had no more points for upgrades in that class. Until we do something drastic we could at least ditch some weight. 115 pounds of ballast in the trunk was easy, but after that would start to get more difficult.

I have been wanting to ditch the stock steering wheel and airbag for some time, and now that there's no more street use it is appropriate to upgrade this. The weights above aren't super high but removing an explosive device from in front of my face is always a win.

For this car I chose a Sparco L360 (Ring) Steering Wheel, which has a black suede cover and comes in 330mm diameter. Sparco's hub adapters are hit or miss and for the E46 I prefer the MOMO 6-bolt Steering wheel hub adapter, part #2012. This allows any 6-bolt 70mm PCD steering wheel to bolt to the E46 steering column AND keep the horn. Even though it doesn't see street use, having a functional horn has kept my cars from being backed into on grid more than once. Keep the horn!

There are airbags in each side door, so those two 1.6 pound "potential bombs" were also removed. I lost some pictures, including getting the 13.3 pound weights of the OEM door panels, with speakers. We were replacing the panels with low profile, thermoplastic formed racing door panels from HARD Motorsport (3.0 pounds each).

Mounting these is done with rivnuts added to the door, then what look like 3D printed plastic stand-offs screwed into those threaded holes. Then the door panels is fitted a bit and bolted in place.

Brad traced the custom mounting panels from the V8 M3 to make another set for the driver's door on this 330. This panel mounts the factory power mirror controls, so those can still work. This bolts in place of the little tweeter speaker.

There is a mount for a pull strap which passes through a slot in the door panel. The passenger door kept the little speaker in place for now, but we might go back and make a blanking plate for that side later. We briefly thought about yanking ALL of the carpet and foam backing, which probably still adds 70 pounds to the car, but I decided to hold back - for now.


So last time I pointed out that "anything can be called a canard" since the NASA ST/TT rules do not define what a canard is. So the "tire wall" we built last time, which absolutely does not create downforce, was called a canard... which isn't allowed in TT4. Instead of forcing the issue with a protest against myself at NOLA we looked at this a little harder, Jason and I read the air dam rules and figured we could easily make that taller here and cover up all of the tire wall extension at the somewhat incomplete fender flare. This would have less aero drag and be completely legal. This is what we call a "win-win".

A small bracket was added at the base of the outer edges of the splitter and then a piece of plastic "race roll" was riveted in place, covering the tire wall and looking nothing like a canard. It's all covered up by a 100% legal air dam extension.

I also asked Aaron to trace a line showing the "projected outline" of the legal M3 bumper cover, which the TT4 rules reference 2 times in the aero rule section. This way its easy to see where the 4" splitter extension was measured from.


With 1/2 tank of fuel the car now sits at 2942 pounds (as shown above) and 3154 pounds with driver, gear and helmet. We had the car sitting at 3290 pounds with driver and the same fuel load for the previous NASA event (on a 3285 pound minimum), so the ballast removed from the trunk and the weight savings in the interior lost 136 pounds from our previous TTD setup. Still, we were VERY heavy for TT4 - minimum weight for our current power (210 whp avg) would be 2520 pounds with driver, which we could not hope to get to without MASSIVE amounts of cutting and carbon composites. This meant we were a staggering 634 pounds overweight for TT4 at the next event... not a good deficit to try to overcome. Of course we will be adding power and not trying to find 634 pounds of weight loss for our future TT4 build, so you can also say we were down 90 whp. I felt this deficit was so insurmountable that we'd be lucky to avoid LAST PLACE in class, and we had 5 signed up for NOLA.

Wow, 634 pounds overweight is massive, and as we loaded up and my head hung pretty low. Jon cut some vinyl and replace the "D" letters with "4" numbers. The 2-piece ramps plus the flip down door on the trailer made loading pretty easy, just as long you approach the end of the ramp carefully. Its still easier to load than the TT3 Mustang, that's for sure!

continued below

Last edited by Fair; 11-10-2017 at 03:28 PM.
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Old 11-10-2017, 03:30 PM   #85
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continued from above

I'm sharing the TT4 classing sheet above with optimistic weight numbers of 2600 pounds - I could have put 2542 minimum, but inflated them a hair for "margin", hehe.... Who cares since the car is 600+ pounds heavier than that! Same goes for power - I claimed 215 whp avg, when its really 210 avg. Not that we will get dyno'd, but I always try to leave some margin for error on the stated numbers.

We also kept the two sets of 17x10" wheels mounted with 245/40/17 Hoosier R7 tires we had leftover from previous events, even though we could have run a 275mm max width tire and more aggressive A7 compound for TT4. I didn't want to blow the $$ on new tires for one event when we were THIS OVERWEIGHT. I thought briefly about running a "slower class" like TTC (we'd still be hundreds of pounds heavy), but I really wanted to run a NASA event against the fastest TT4 cars in our area as-is. And for reasons that would later prove to be true, I feel that the TTC class cars are faster than their TT4 counter parts.

NASA @ NOLA, OCT 27-29, 2017

We have not raced at NOLA Motorsports Park in 4 years, but we had a lot of fun the last time we ran with NASA here. We were eager to get back and Amy and I both planned to drive the 330 this weekend. It was SO MUCH FUN - we are both glad we went and vowed to make at least one NOLA event per year in the future!

We completed this round of "TT4 prep" on Wednesday so we got on the road Thursday morning to make the 512 mile trek from north Dallas down to New Orleans to run at our final NASA weekend of 2017. We spent the entire day driving the 9-1/2 hours through Texas and Louisiana, got caught in some traffic around Baton Rouge, then rolled into NOLA right at dark. We unhooked the trailer, found a parts store to sell us DEF fluid for the diesel truck, went to the hotel, then found a local watering hole to get some good Cajun food.


Friday was an absolutely beautiful Fall weather day in the deep south. Sunny, light breeze, 70-80F all day, just perfect. We arrived on time for the 8:30 drivers meeting for the test event we signed up for, where we hoped to re-learn this track we have only raced at once back in 2013. I was startled to see that the TT3 track record we set on the 2.75 mile course 4 years ago still hasn't been toppled (1:50.525), but I figured it would surely fall this weekend (it didn't).

The test day was run by the track itself and cost a whopping $250, which is relatively high for this area (our last test day at MSR-Houston cost $75), but they do put on a good show and the track had nearly every corner station manned. They separated the entrants into 3 groups: W2W Race cars, Advanced + Intermediate HPDE, and Beginner HPDE. Since we don't have a full cage in this car that meant I would go out in the Adv/Int HPDE group. There would be five sessions for each group during the day and I ended up running four of them. There was no riders, coaches, or instructors allowed in the cars, plus Amy could not take a session in my place - $250 per person per day. Bummer, but I would be able to ride along with Amy on Saturday for some coaching.

We unloaded the BMW and set the tire pressures (27 psi cold) on the silver wheel set, which had the older scrubbed set of R7s mounted. We were planning to run this set Friday and switch to the gold wheels (fresher tires) for Sat-Sunday.

It was good to do this test day, being that I hadn't driven this track in 4 years. It slowly came back to me and I was able to adjust my lines to work with this "momentum car" vs the more powerful setup of the Mustang. We stayed with our existing shock settings, and the 6 AoA wing setting felt damn near perfect. We adjusted tire pressures and got them all about 32-33 psi hot, with a 1 psi bias for the fronts. This course is CW so most of the corners are right handers, which meant the right side tires needed higher initial pressures when cold.

There were some bumps that had formed since the last time I ran here which were noticeable in 3 corners: T5, T6, and T7 all have a pretty big dip in them - but good dampers make these non-issues. There's some "gator teeth" curbing that you drive over in a few spots (which you will hear in my in-car video), and some FIA inside curbing that you can drive over if you enter the corners at the right angle. There is also a concrete wall along the pit straight that you need to avoid (more on that below!) and some armco out near some corner stations that seem to be magnetic as well. Our group on Friday could pass on any of the 5 straight sections of track parallel to the pit straight.

We figured out on this Friday test day that the M3 cluster's fuel gauge is "problematic". In my second session the car was fuel starving at "3/4 tank" gauge levels, which I knew was not right. So I went to the fuel pumps and... put nearly 3/4 of tank of fuel in the car? So it was reading high. After I filled it up it showed "Empty", WTF? So now I cannot trust the fuel gauge and we just started filling up after each session. We were using 3.0 gallons per 20 minute session, and I ran every lap of four sessions that day.

The range of cars that show up in HPDE are all over the map, from commuters on street tires to Corvettes on Hoosiers to other TT racers testing. There were only about 20 cars in our Adv HPDE test group so traffic wasn't too bad and we quickly figured out that our little 330 was one of the faster cars running, so I started gridding as the first or second car out. The aero was really working. As my courage increased, so did my speeds through the high speed esses!

The exit of T16 was pretty different from 4 years earlier, as they had paved a huge swath of run off area that used to be grass. They put a bunch of gator teeth in this area to discourage people from tracking out there but they told us that was all within track limits up to the concrete wall. One S2000 found his way into that wall Friday, destroying the whole right side of the car - but they beat the fenders out and he ran Saturday and Sunday anyway. I started using more and more gator teeth on track out and kept finding time... but it was a dangerous game to play.

Lap times started in the 1:59 range and at the end of the day I was squeaking into the 1:57 range, still about 7 seconds slower than my old TT3 times, ugh. There weren't any published times all day Friday so I had no idea what any of my competition was running - just going off times from my AiM Solo, but those were pretty accurate 4 years ago (always within 0.1 sec of the AMB loop).

We wrapped up the last session and swapped to the gold wheel set (above) to get the car ready for TT on Saturday. Some weather was supposed to move in and drop some wind/cold/rain overnight, but many of the Texas racers were camping out at the track in tents and trailers.

After swapping tires we noticed that they were wearing extremely well. The last set that wore badly was an old set from our TTC Corvette, which had some shoulder wear that was worsened on the 330. Lots of tire klag inside the wheel but otherwise this set is good for more testing. After we had the car prepped for Saturday we went to our hotel, got cleaned up, then met my nephew and niece (who both live in N.O.) at a French restaurant for a great dinner - and I got to meet my grand nephew for the first time. Cute kid.


We arrived at the track early for instructor's meeting, driver's meeting, and then a TT meeting. It rained pretty hard Friday night and was still wet and sprinkling on grid as we went out for our first TT session. We had a large number of TT cars but only about half of the folks made it to grid for the "TT Warm Up" session, and while I debated going I ended up driving the whole session. This "Warm-Up" would not count towards results (and being wet it wouldn't matter for times) but it would set the grid for the next session, so I went out on the bald R7s.

Turns out that this wet session was a total blast and I had one of the quicker times of the session, running a 2:06 lap, which was about 9 seconds slower than my best times Friday in the dry but the quickest TT4 time (again, wet times don't mean much). What's weirder than entering a corner at 115+ mph flat on the floor in the dry is doing the same thing in the wet! One of the guys who I passed in this session said the rear wing was throwing up a rooster tail of water 40' in the air, "I couldn't see a damn thing - but you left me pretty fast anyway!" I ran the whole session and vacuumed the track a bit.

That wet session put me 3rd on grid for the dry-ish "TT Session 1", and I assumed we would fall way down the grid throughout the day - but that never really happened. The weather for this session was COLD (temps started in the 45F range), with high winds that would just cut through and made you shiver. Amy waited until after lunch to go out in the 330 with the HPDE 3/4 group ("Its too cold!") but I was on track for every TT session that day. Throughout the day the track was drying out except in a few stubborn corners, so times were dropping.

During that first dry TT session, my times immediately dipped into the high 1:56s, and the third TT session I ran a 1:56.599. And while I was hoping to not finish last, somehow I as shown in 2nd place? I only knew one of the TT4 guys, Dysen Pham (S2000), who is always the fastest TT4 car at NASA Texas events - and he comes to NOLA a lot and is fast here. There were also three BMW M3s in class, including an E36 with an S54 swap that held the track record.

In the 3rd session, "TT session 2", Dysen ran a 1:56.231 time but spun off track, hit some armco, broke his steering rack and had to come in on the flat bed. Since he did spin off track his times would be DSQ'd for that session. I ran a tick slower but the Race Hero readout and NASA results weren't posting right for the rest of the day - due to a wifi issue in the tower. That meant after the 2nd session we were completely in the dark. Frustrating, but I knew my AiM times at least. I figured one of the M3s would swoop in and destroy both of our times at some point.

In the 4th and final TT session I was maybe sitting in 2nd or 3rd, wasn't really sure at that point, but I wanted to try to catch Dysen's time. I was pushing the car VERY hard, driving through the small puddles at the apexes of a few turns, using all the road and even a bit of curbing, but just couldn't find the time. The predictive lap timer showed a 1:55.8 lap more than once but I could never nail it down. I pushed hard for all 6 laps in this final Saturday session and on the VERY LAST LAP TT took all day I managed to get down to what I saw as a 1:56.3 lap on my AiM SOLO. I knew that wasn't faster than Dysen's best lap in his DSQ session - but what about his fastest lap from the previous one?

continued below
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Old 11-10-2017, 03:30 PM   #86
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continued from above

I came into the pits after that session exhausted - I had ridden with my HPDE1 student in 3 sessions, took him for a ride in a HPDE4 session, rode in one session with Amy, and drove every lap on all four of my TT sessions that day (9 sessions). The cold weather sapped our energy as well.

We cleaned up, locked up but left the car out for the night with the windows up, then went to the awards banquet. They had some crazy good bar-b-q served up from a food truck outside and we went into the massive clubhouse to hear official results - which for once would be a total mystery. Did we finish 3rd? 2nd? Worse? Nobody knew.

Once we got our food we went upstairs in the clubhouse for the awards. The race director was reading off the TT results and lap times, and apparently he was looking at the wrong column (2nd best times). He read them in the right finish order, so there was some confusion. When he read off Dysen as 2nd and me as first for TT4, I was in shock - mostly because the times he read off were not our best. Turns out the official times had us a tenth of a second apart, with my 1:56.347 lap taking the win out of 5 in class vs Dysen's 1:56.441. That meant 2 Hoosiers, woo! I was loving that luck, but figured Sunday would be the inevitable TT4 blood bath. The S2000 mafia that swarms these events is pretty industrious and they tend to fix all manner of issues quickly. There was also rumor of a V6 swapped S2000 showing up to run TT4 on Sunday that Dysen would co-drive.

Amy drove two sessions that day and had a blast, and the car did great. We had battery issues on the vidcam but did get my best lap Saturday, just none of my Sunday laps. I also had some issues with the shifter, on both up and down-shifts, that ruined a few of my best laps. We will address both of these things next season.


After sleeping for ten hours the night before (tired!) we woke up early, packed up the hotel room, and headed out Sunday morning to the track. The day started out a little warmer and the sun was out. More drivers and instructors meetings, then I worked on getting my student a check ride (he was more than ready for solo).

It was still 47F in our first session but the wind was down so it wasn't painfully cold. Most importantly the track was completely dry now and times started to drop. I was gridded P5 so I didn't have much traffic to deal with, which was a nice change. I was behind the two fast TTC cars and could keep them in sight. And while they both ultimately ran better times than TT4, you have to remember - TTC allows many things that TT4 does not, and these "dyno reclass" builds are going to be a thing of the past next year as TTC goes away. They have been fast all year, no doubt about it, but we will see if these TTC cars get faster - and by how much - next year when they all move to TT4 or TT5.

That day I ran the first session hard and found a 1:55.975. Dysen's co-drive in the "S3200" (see above) never materialized - they had all sorts of issues on that car - but the owner did enter, ran at least one session, and made some 2:00 laps on street tires. Another M3 came in second but 3 of our entrants from Saturday dropped out, so we only had 3 cars in TT4 with times on the results sheet Sunday (so no Hoosier payouts).

I went out in the next session looking to run a lower 1:55 lap (a predictive 1:55.8 time popped up earlier) and I started getting greedy with the exit "gators" on T16. I would take it wider and wider out of this last turn before the pit straight to try to gain a tenth, but it wasn't working. I ran a string of 1:56.0 laps then I took T16 exit a bit too wide and clipped the tire wall with the side mirror - BANG! Damn thing popped right off the door mount, hanging from the wires, but did zero damage elsewhere on the car. Whew! I got lucky. I held the dangling mirror in my hand for the next lap of shame and came in...

Amy had seen and heard the whole thing from the bleachers at the exit of T16 - and she was none too pleased that I almost joined the "Wall of Champions" that had claimed other cars this weekend. I clipped the mirror wires, tossed the busted mirror into the trailer, then went right back out to take my nephew for a few laps in the next DE session. After that the car was all Amy's, and she did take another session that day, running her best lap of a 2:01.0 before we called it a day.

By this point we had "found the time we were gonna find" and the ambient temps were climbing, while other TT cars slowed down or dropped out due to mechanical issues. One of the remaining TTC S2000s clipped another bit of armco and busted a wheel bearing. Another TTC S2000 broke their trans. Amy had dropped 10 seconds from her Saturday morning times and I found 2 seconds from my best Friday test time. My brush with the tire wall was enough of a warning to "not push my luck", plus we had an 8+ hour tow home and work the next day.

We stuck around to watch the Blitz race group's last points race for the year, where our customer Jamie wrapped up first place the NASA Texas ST3 Championship - in his rookie year - which was pretty cool. He had "hit a gator" during the first race on Saturday and tore up the front end - but still finished the race. A bunch of us patched it up before the next race, which he went on to win and as well as the points race on Sunday (the car is at our shop now getting fixed up, better and prettier than before).

We watched the Race Hero live timing app on our way back to Dallas and the 3rd and 4th TT sessions on Sunday didn't throw us any curve balls, so we won on Sunday as well. With only 3 in class there were not contingency payouts from Hoosier, but just winning the 2 tires Saturday was a nice change. The Sunday win had half the class out, but it was still another win - which meant we went 10 for 10 TT first place finishes this season (8 in TTD and 2 in TT4).


Overall this was a great race weekend but there were some exceptions. Running with the NASA Texas group for 11 years now I have gotten used to things being done a certain way. Here are some of the things that jumped out at us.

The bad: There were a lot of incidents in various race groups, and some of the extractions took longer than they anticipated, which led to some delays. We had a lot of 20-30 minute delays sitting on grid after a 3 minute warning in TT. So the schedule was hit or miss. There was also some small level of disorganization - probably due the large number of Texas region folks that came to this "dual region" event. All of the W2W racers were jammed into two groups so they complained of traffic, but that's not my group. Long drive down on some fairly crappy roads, but it was all still well worth the trip.

The good: The food at the banquet was excellent, and the clubhouse, track, and facilities were top notch. Everyone from NOLA was friendly and welcoming. There were autocrosses going on both days on parking lots within the facility, and some of the TT folks did some karting Saturday night, too. We had no traffic problems on track in TT this weekend, due to gridding so well Saturday and the car just being faster.

Our 330 was sitting from 3rd to 6th on grid all weekend, which was a nice change. We beat the ST4 track record time but I was 1.2 sec off the TT4 record time, but we did outpace the car and driver that set that record earlier this year. Dysen had run a 1:51.2 in TTB last year but seemed to have slowed down in TT4 trim (just like I think how some of the other "letter class" cars might slow down in "number class" trim). Compared to the TT3 record our TT4 time was too far back, and the TTC record was smashed this weekend, but comparing to C isn't an apples-to-apples comparison. Jamie set the ST3 track record in his last lap of his last race, where he found a bunch of time in the high speed esses (his car has aero).

The 330 definitely picked up a good bit of time with the added aero, which makes me think that next year we might be more competitive - with less weight, more tire and a lot more power. We shall see - I'm excited to to find out!


I've got a track test scheduled at MSR-Cresson for this car in about a week, so we'll see how much time the car picked up at our regular test track from our last set of laps there, again on the 245mm R7 tires. We have a major round of "power upgrades" scheduled for our winter break, and the preliminary 2018 NASA Texas Schedule is posted:
  • January 27-28 - Season Opener - MSR Houston
  • March 10-11 - March Madness - MSR Cresson
  • May 4-6 - NASA at COTA!
  • June 9-10 - Summer Shootout - Hallett
  • September 13-16 - NASA National Championship - COTA!
  • October 27-29 - Crossover event at NOLA Motorsports Park
There might be another event or two added in the next month, too. Hopefully we will have completed the TT4 power mods by then, but there's not much of a break before 2018 season starts. We're back at it before you know it!

Until next time,
Terry Fair @ Vorshlag

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Old 06-08-2018, 09:53 PM   #87
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Any updates to my favorite thread?
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Old 06-15-2018, 09:37 AM   #88
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Old 07-03-2018, 10:36 AM   #89
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Awesome thread. It took me hours to read. I followed your S550 Mustang thread as well. I put your posts on this thread into a pdf document for later refrencing and it's 807 pages! 10 point and with pictures kept in. 112k words! Impressive stuff.

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Old 07-06-2018, 12:35 PM   #90
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Originally Posted by GH5T_Stang View Post
Awesome thread. It took me hours to read. I followed your S550 Mustang thread as well. I put your posts on this thread into a pdf document for later refrencing and it's 807 pages! 10 point and with pictures kept in. 112k words! Impressive stuff.
Dang - that's a BOOK!

Lots of updates and changes to share about our red 330, and a new widebody E46 coupe build, but I am behind on ALL of my forum build threads.

The last few months have gobbled up all of my free time and more, building a new shop and moving the business. We did most of the work ourselves and it was a huge undertaking...

Just got an operational network in the shop yesterday, and we have been shipping orders for about two weeks, so we are back up and running and I've just started checking forums and updating build threads.

More soon!
Terry Fair @ Vorshlag

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Old 07-06-2018, 11:51 PM   #91
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awesome, thats a lot of work! Best of luck getting caught up!
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Old 10-16-2018, 04:05 PM   #92
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Project update for October 15th, 2018: Somehow 11 months zoomed by without an update to this E46 BMW development thread. I kept meaning to post something, but things were moving pretty fast this year, and lots of things kept me from writing this until now. Some rules changes enacted because of our latest modifications ruined our 2018 TT4 plans for our red 330.

So far 2018 has been a busy and tough year, for me and the business, but some long term plans appear to be heading towards the goals we set. We bought land, built a brand new shop, moved the business in a short period. I also bought a new for development + NASA TT (the 2018 Mustang GT, shown above), but also bought some more E46 chassis as well. New equipment at the new shop gives us some more capabilities, and we had some staff changes.

My red 330 "Fireball" coupe (above) went through some cosmetic changes over the 2017 winter. This car won the NASA Texas Regional TTD championship for 2017 (by a huge margin), and we had moved to TT4 late in the season. While paint work was underway last winter, a big batch of rules changes came down that made all of our TT4 prep work illegal. Since I have to change up my personal cars regularly, to be able to develop new parts, the red 330 was sold this past Spring. I already miss that car...

Left: Widebody/carbon door/carbon roof E46 coupe I bought (V8 build). Right: My slick top 2001 330Ci (SE46 build)

Do not fret - we have a half dozen new E46 chassis coming in for various work, and some of those will be complete race cars we build for future customers. Long ago this forum thread outgrew our initial TTD E46 build (Jack Daniels) and since then we have shown various E46 BMWs that we have built, worked on, or raced. Some new E46s have been purchased this year, including the widebody E46 coupe shown above left, which already has carbon doors + roof and a big set of flares on it already. We have some nasty plans for that, plus other plans fpr the slick top white 330 Coupe, and possibly a Z4 (which has E46 bones) as well.


Let's pick up where the red 330 left off, 3 weeks after the wins at NOLA in late October 2017. The car was working well so on a cold and WINDY Saturday member day, Amy and I took the car to MSR. We had just swapped out the OEM mirrors for some cheap E36 M3 style side mirrors, to replace the one I busted at NOLA (read about that work below). That was the only change from the last round of work.

Event pics: https://vorshlag.smugmug.com/Racing-...n-Nov-18-2017/

My hope was to reset our best lap in this car on the 1.7 mile MSR-C CCW course. I had ran a best of a 1:23.789 back in March at the NASA event, in TTD trim, with zero aero. That day had nearly perfect conditions, and I had two days / 8 sessions to set that best lap of the weekend (and set the TTD record). We hadn't run at MSR since March, and never here with the TT4 aero. This is a track that normally responds well to aero downforce so I had high hopes.

I went out early and had a relatively clear track. But it was very windy - and I think that was what was upsetting the car in some corners, badly. There were head winds, tail winds, but mostly cross winds. This made the car a real bear to drive and it felt like the "full tilt aero" wasn't helping me that day. Unpredictable, changed through the corners, etc. Bitterly cold with the winds, too.

I went out in the first session and drove 11 laps, but only ran a best of a 1:24.079. Track temps were good, I wasn't fighting traffic, had no excuses other than the cross winds. The tires were fairly fresh, and I felt like I pushed the car to the limits, but I was just a hair slower than the March times. With the high winds Aero was a detriment that day. Other folks in race cars said the same thing that day. I watched my video and didn't see any major mistakes, just wasn't that fast.

The inside front tire is off the ground here - and there's a lot of bodyroll

There might have been some impact on loading of the chassis from downforce, it just wasn't consistent on each corner, because of wind direction. As you can see above, the inside front tire above was off the ground in Big Bend, possibly due to DF loads. If we had stuck with this car much longer we would need to increase spring rates a good bit. We saw similar amounts of "chassis compression" at NOLA as well, right after adding the aero. Adding wings and splitters usually requires spring rates to go up by 25-50% or more - with dedicated track testing trying new spring rates.

Amy went out in the next session in the 330. I kind of hogged the car for many NASA events this year, and she didn't even make any laps in it at NOLA. As a "team" entry she could have, but we were focusing hard on securing a 100% win record for the year and resetting all of the TTD track records for the 2017 season - which we did. She more than deserved some track time today, and I wasn't sure if there was much more in the car with me driving.

She went out and ran a 1:29.070 after driving for 13 laps. She had fun, but was further off my pace than usual. She hasn't driven a car with real aero since 2015, and the windy conditions gave her fits. It usually only takes a single coaching session with her to get her times within 1-2 seconds of me, or closer. With only 1 session under her belt, she was happy with her times.

At this point I was super frustrated with my times. The wind wasn't letting up and was going to be there all day. A customer and friend, Scottish Joe, was there with his 2017 Corvette C7 Grand Sport. I hadn't driven his C7 here since August 2016, where I ran a on the OEM MPSS tires. On this day he was on some 300 treadwear Continental street tires, so I suspected it would be slower than the Michelins it came with stock. Joe asked me to go out and set a lap to benchmark by, so Amy hopped in and we went out for 5 laps.

The extra horsepower this LT1 V8 produces was downright addictive. Just horsing around I put in a best lap of 1:22.322. Sure, it was a hair slower than when I ran it a year earlier on better tires. This car was 1.7 seconds faster than my 330 race car with aero, in stock form and on not ideal street tires, with a passenger. And it was just super easy to do. Horsepower just makes every car better.

Going faster in a bone stock LT1 Corvette that weighed 500 pounds more, on street tires, made me much less enthusiastic about this M54 powered BMW. As it turned out, this was the last time I ever drove this 330 on track. Its a little sad to end my time with a car on windy, cold test day that didn't pan out like I had hoped.


Let's skip over to one of the least impressive E46 cars we have in the fleet - our black 325Ci Daily Driver automatic that my wife has been driving for the last year.

In the last post we showed a lot of suspension, gasket, wheel, battery, and DISA valve repairs on this car. Shortly after getting it back on the road the transmission started slipping. This car has the ZF automatic - which has outrageous rebuild prices ($4000!), which was more than the car was worth. What to do? There were some Check Engine Light (CEL) codes but we couldn't read them with our OBDII scanner.


Step one was to try the easy fix - fresh transmission fluid and a transmission filter. Sometimes a bunch of funky fluid and a clogged filter will cause the trans to shift funny.

Brad dropped the pan and drained the fluid. Looked like old fluid, maybe original. Pulled off the older filter and rounded up a new one.

The transmission pan was cleaned, a fresh gasket went on, and the new filter installed. A case of Motul ATF VI synthetic fluid was added, the car started and the fluid level was checked. Time for a test drive.

Still slipping, badly. Hmm, not good. CEL was back, and again we couldn't read them. This isn't really our area of expertise, so we took the car to a friends BMW repair shop nearby. Michael from Eurauto hooked up to his fancy BMW code checking computer. Code 049 and 053 above had to do with the transmission.

After talking to Michael and another BMW repair shop owner, it was time for a transmission replacement. The rebuild costs were sky high - I even called a friend with an Eagle Transmission franchise. There was no affordable way to rebuild this ZF automatic. Repairs that cost more than the car is worth - this is the ugly part of German cars ownership sometimes...


I started calling around and a correct E46 ZF auto pullout was found from a friend who owned a BMW repair shop. I horse traded some parts for this used trans, shown below. In hindsight maybe we should have done a little more work and converted this car to the 5-speed manual, but such is life...

We cleaned that up (pressure washed), swapped over a wiring harness from our car's trans (that was busted on this unit), and the torque converter as well (our car's looked to be in better shape). Here are the technician notes from MyShopAssist on this work:

MSA: R&R Transmission - Technician: Aaron - Time: 7.23 hours
Filter Swap + R&R Transmission - 11/6/2017

-Change fluid and filter in original trans
-No change, still throwing codes and slipping
-M12-1.75 x 75MM hardware needed (stripped/stuck), Qty:2
-Chase M12x1.75 tapped holes in block
-Power wash replacement pullout trans
-Repair loom on P/N safety switch/gear indicator on pullout trans
-Swap existing convertor into pullout transmission
-Install new transmission mounts
-Snug oil pan bolts (small leak present)
-Rear main seal dry, do not R&R
-Add new filter, pan gasket, fill with fluid, test drive

Of course nothing is ever easy. Some knuklehead had buggered two holes in the block - probably the shop that did the $800 starter replacement for the previous owner. Since there was still a known oil leak (small), I asked Aaron to check the rear main seal and replace it, if that's where the oil leak was coming from. We had already changed all of the leaky top end engine gaskets in the last round of work. As you can see from his MyShopAssist notes above the rear main was dry - so its gotta be the oil pan gasket. The leak isn't huge, just annoying.

Yet another new trans filter and another case of Motul ATF fluid went into this used transmission.

A new driveshaft bushing (guibo) was installed when the driveshaft went on, and Aaron wrapped up this trans swap. The under tray was cleaned up and reinstalled. Fingers were crossed and I took it for another test drive - which was better, but not 100% better. It still throws some codes but the trans is functional. As long as you don't abuse it, it won't slip. For now.

This is why I hate doing "junkyard swaps" with used parts - its the same work as putting in a new part, but sometimes the replacement used part is not 100% right. This is part of the fun of owning older German cars...

continued below
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Old 10-16-2018, 04:08 PM   #93
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continued from above


Since the E46 was driving better, I went ahead and asked Brad a couple of days later to do a few clean-up tasks, to make this car look a little nicer. He spent about 3 hours to knock out the following.

The headlights looked great, the leather was conditioned inside, carpets were vacuumed and the car was washed. Amy has been driving the car for the last 11 months. The transmission works, but there are still some other issues with it. It drives fine, and gets her to and from work, which for now is good enough. But we have more work to tackle...


One of my least favorite things on E46 BMWs are the factory cup holders. They suck, and are made for itty bitty cups, or small European soda cans. After time the spring clips that hold the dual cup holder insert into the center console wear out, and the spring loaded tabs inside the cup holders that gently squeeze the tiny little cans wear out. So if you have a teenie tiny can in there, corner hard enough, the can flies out. Or the whole cupholder assembly pops out of the center console, along with whatever was in there. Both situations are irritating.

This car had a very worn out set of cup holders, and they kept falling out when cornering with a drink in place. Not cool. so I ordered a new OEM setup and popped them in place. But it was still pretty much worthless unless you had an 8 oz can or small drink cup.

But to hold American size cups - like this Yeti-ish insulated stainless cup - we needed something bigger.

This "Swigzy" cup holder "extender" works great. The bottom section can fit into the tiny E46 cup holder openings, then you can rotate the upper section and these ribs extend out and lock it into place. The upper portion can hold a giant cup - or your wallet,phone, etc. Very handy.


A few weeks into daily driving Amy ran over a massive pothole and bruised a tire and bent another wheel. It was really a big "heave" in a concrete seam she ran over, but luckily the rest of the new suspension took the hit like a champ.

I ordered two new tires (245/40/17 Firestone Firehawk 200 TW) and had that wheel straightened and refinished.

These tires work really well, and in fact some endurance road racers have started using these for competition events. The Firestones were cost effective, ride nicely, and have great grip. The new stock suspension parts have made this into a very nice riding, decently handling little coupe.

Dilemma - so the 2nd ZF auto trans is slowly dying, and you have to baby it to keep it from slipping. The CELs won't go away because they are tied to the slipping trans. this car also has a lingering "ground problem" in the lighting circuit, so the headlights/tail lights/brake lights are all dim. Gotta chase that bad ground. I have too much time invested in this for a slow, slipping trans, CEL lit car we can't drive at night because of the lights.


Like I stated in the intro, we won the TTD class for 2017 with this car, scoring a perfect 800 points (with drops) for the class. We won every NASA event and even an SCCA Club Trial in this car this year. For NASA we set the TTD track record at MSR-C (both days), set new TTD track records for both the CW and CCW course at Hallett, set the record at TWS (both days), we went to MSR-Houston but it was a wash out (after the track was flooded during Hurricane Harvey), and then - since we had the TTD season wrapped up - we switched to TT4 for the last NASA Texas event of the year at NOLA (and won both days). We won TTD class by the largest TT class win, 645 points, and never lost a single event. It was a perfect season!

What I had planned over the winter for this car was fairly monumental... I wanted to make this car a real TT4 car, built to the limit of the power-to-weight rules, max aero, go to a wider tire, and more.

We were already deep into a radical stroker M54 engine build, had planned a custom "average power" tune with a stand alone EFI system to keep the car in TT4. I got wheels and tires to upgrade to 275/40/17 Hoosiers. Found a dry sump oiling system for an S54, which we could retrofit to the M54. And of course started on a complete re-spray of the car using the same Hellrot Red.

The reality is that TT4 rules changed enough to prevent almost all of this for happening. Once much of our car was made illegal for TT4 we "pushed" on some of this work, other than the re-paint. Let's cover some of this...


The "nail in the coffin" to further TT4 prep on this 330 was the significant rules changes that were made to ST4/TT4 at the very end of 2017, after only 1 season of this class being in existence. We will cover what changed, and how it affected our car.

Apparently seeing our car's aero in TT4 prompted some changes to: wing endplate rules, splitter measuring rules, wing placement rules, and more. This was "not what they intended" when they wrote the limited aero rules for TT4. Even if we were deemed legal for the NOLA event, they told us that none of this would be legal for 2018.

We only did what anyone building to the limit of a class would do - built to the extent of the rules. Can we help it if the rules didn't describe what was desired? It's not like we exploited loopholes or poorly written rules. We maximized the splitter, endplates, and wing placement for what was written. They didn't like that. So right away, none of our aero would be legal for 2018. It would all have to be redone, from scratch. After ONE RACE! I was less than thrilled.

The other rule change that caught us out was the "standardized tire measuring tools" introduced for 2018 - a bit of a radical move that caught out a lot of racers. No longer would the tire size stamped on the sidewall matter - you would have to measure your mounted wheel and tires with some standard tire checking tools...

This was done to reign in some tire makers that produced sizes that were wider than the numbers indicated, and to prevent racers from "stretching" a tire on a wider wheel to get more tread on the ground. If you have followed other builds we have done over the years, you might know that I am NOT a fan of skinny tires, but these rules changes were made to "keep costs low" and to prevent racers from using wider tires. The TTD build was always difficult for me, just having to use a 245mm marked tire...

Of course for both our TTC Corvette and the TTD E46 builds we had done BOTH of those things to exploit tire rules: we picked the widest 245mm tire Hoosier makes (the 245/40/17 R7) and put them on 17x10" wheels for this TTD build. And we had just gotten a second set of 17x10" wheels made for the 2018 season, to have a set as "scrubs" and the "stickers" ready for when we needed more performance.

I had planned on stepping up to 275mm tires for 2018, which on paper are "legal" for TT4 - but there's no way to mount them and fit within the class limit 282mm wheel checking tool (I bought a complete set of these tools late in 2017 to figure this out - too late). So I've got sticker 275s that I bought, and a 2nd set of 17x10 wheels for them now. Yay.

So now we had built a car for a class that no longer existed - at least not with any of the mods legal for 2017 done to it. The reasoning was to allow the "Letter" classes to be gone for good in 2017, so the "new for 2017" ST4/TT4 classes needed to line up better with the new for 2018 classes ST5/TT5 as well as and 2019's ST6/TT6 classes.

I get why they made the changes, it just didn't make me very happy to prep for a class late in 2017 and have exactly ONE RACE in this class before major changes came down the pipe. To be TT4 legal we would have to completely remake the end plates, radically alter the wing's fore-aft placement (brand new uprights), the front splitter would have to be completely remade and get much smaller and we would have to get new wheels to make even the 245s legal, forget about the 275mms I bought.

This car was already WAY down on power for TT4 in 2017 (we were even down for TTD), and without a radical M54 engine build I'd still be down on power for 2018 PLUS we would have to make all new aero that would make less downforce. And no additional tire over TTD, and in fact less tire with narrower wheels I'd have to buy. So we would have to spend a lot of time and money to go slower. I already had the car at the painter's while all of these rules changes were coming down, very late in 2017, and I was unsure of what to do...


I had hoped that my partners at the engine shop I am a part of would be more excited about developing BMW M54 or S54 engines - after initially being on board with these plans, I had rounded up heads and engine cores for development work, a complete dry sump oiling system, bought some rods to test with, paid for a test crank to check maximum stroke, paid for some tooling, etc.

There is untapped potential there in the aluminum block M54 (215 hp stock) market. A few overpriced, underwhelming options existed for rebuilding an M54, but most folks just tossed them in the scrap pile and put in junkyard pullouts when they had a problem. We had a test crank made with a different stroke on each cylinder, then a forged aftermarket rod and piston we ordered that we tested in each bore. We had a pretty remarkable stroker combination that we were on the trail of... problem as it was going to be expensive. And the M54 intake, cams, valves, and ports all needed major upgrades to keep up with the added displacement. And the factory EFI was likely unable to support the programming. It was quickly turning into a very pricey unicorn kind of build. Would anyone else ever buy one? All of the development costs were on me.

So I rounded up an S54, above. These have a heavier iron block but the block is taller, so we could add even more displacement. The S54 cylinder head can support more power (333 hp stock), but it would still need porting, valves, cams, and more. I got the dry sump setup for the S54, and we had lofty goals in mind. But my partners were much more interested in working on LS engines, late model Hemi, Viper V10s and Ford V8s. Can't really blame them, though. There is SO much more potential in any of those pushrod V8 engines than any BMW anything... dollar for dollar we could make a LOT more power with an LS V8 than an expensive, high compression, high revving BMW inline 6.

With TT4 now out of sight for my car for 2018, I scrapped both the M54 and S54 stroker engine projects for now.


After the November track test I was not "feeling it", and 2018 was looking like we might be further off the pace with the revised TT4 class rules, but at least the car would look good!

I always intended for this car to look good - to represent Vorshlag well - but we had thrown a lot of changes at the body in 2017. We now had a raw carbon hood, 4 black flares, a bare aluminum splitter, a raw carbon sunroof, unpainted E46 M3 nose, black plastic race roll air dam and tire fairings, and raw carbon wing with bare aluminum endplates and uprights. It was time to get everything painted or coated.

I found these E36 M3 style side mirrors that fit an E46, purchased those. The plan was to replace the OEM units after I had popped off the driver's mirror when I touched the wall at NOLA. Bonus: the two mirrors dropped 3.4 pounds from the stock power mirrors, and they produce considerably less drag.

The new mirrors worked out well, but the eBay quality showed when it came to mounting. A bit of work was needed to install them (one of the mounting holes wasn't there), and of course we lost the remote power mirror adjustment. One of the front lower control arms was knocking again, so a Lemforder replacement was ordered and installed, too.

We were not expecting the major aero/rules changes, so the car was already torn apart and being painted when the rules changes came down very late in 2017. Normally we'd try to make the late January 2018 event that kicks off the NASA Texas calendar each year, but with the new rules making all of our aero work illegal for TT4, I told Heritage Collision to not hurry the paint work.

When I picked the car up in early February 2018 the paint made the car look AMAZING in every way. I was still unsure of what to do with the car, but at this point I had to do something since we had invested so much into it at this point. TT4 was out, and a build for TT1/2/3 would take even more radical aero and likely (if I was smart) an LS V8 swap.

While I was deciding what to do with the 330, I had the guys clean up the tubular bumper beam/splitter strut mount and shoot it with silver paint, then reinstall that.

continued below
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Old 10-16-2018, 04:11 PM   #94
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continued from above

We had the entire front splitter powder coated in semi-gloss black. Much stronger than paint so they don't look like hammered crap after every event's worth of tire klag and bug hits on the leading edges.

By this point I knew this car was looking very good, and I had Jon make me a "FOR SALE" graphic for the windshield. I figured I'd take it to some event soon and somebody would see it and maybe want to buy it? My intuition has been wrong before, but I figured it couldn't hurt.

The endplates were already painted and the wing uprights and splitter were already powder coated when the rules changes were announced, so to change them now would cost not only the additional labor to re-make them but I would lose out on the powder coating and painting costs as well.

We even had Heritage paint the raw carbon fiber wing, and with the painted aluminum endplates and black uprights the back of the car was looking just as good as the front.


By now I knew the car was looking pretty good, and selling this would help pay for the new car I just bought and the building that was under construction...

At this point we left the decals on the panels that weren't painted - the doors and fenders. Everything else got painted in matching Hellrot Red - the nose, hood, mirrors, sunroof panel, wing, endplates, and flares.

I was wondering if someone would buy this as a dedicated HPDE car that they could maybe drive a little on the street (the aero is the main factor here). I knew from previous builds that keeping the A/C, roll up windows, lights/signals, and some of the interior wasn't hurting us as far as potential buyers were concerned.

Seeing this was making me have second thoughts... the paint popped, the interior looked great, but I kept saying to myself - how does a super clean dual-purpose car help us further the business? I couldn't find a class that it fit into without major changes and compromises. I was stuck.

The interior cleaned up nicely, as you can see. The front carpets were vacuumed, the seats spiffed up, and it all looked great.

Painting carbon wings body color is kind of a new thing, and after seeing what it looked like on our car, it's my new thing! Tired of seeing raw carbon blister or get cloudy from UV damage? Painting the carbon cures all of that.

After a couple of days of waxing, cleaning, polishing, and even detailing the engine bay, Brad took the time to shoot some really good pics of the car. I was thinking of where to list it for sale at this point. Bring a Trailer? eBay? HPDE Facebook groups?


One of our customers, who had an exotic car in our shop for some custom work, saw the freshly painted and detailed 330 in the Spring of 2018. He asked how much I'd take for the car, and I threw out and number, and he said "Done".

Of course it is never that easy, and we ended up doing a bit of custom work for him to complete the sale. On the interior he asked for new A-pillar coverings, as the originals had fallen apart and we tossed them a while ago. And with the headliner out, the interior light (above the rear view mirror) was held on with zip ties. So we made this aluminum bracket to finish that off, and keep the lights functional.

Due to some variables out of my control, our "Daily Driven Track Car" here wasn't driven on the road after we did the custom header/exhaust. So it had no cat, until now. A Magnaflow high flow metal matrix catalyst was added.

The buyer was no fan of the gold 17x10" wheels, so we swapped on the silver set with identical specs and R7 tires. I still have the gold 17x10" wheels for sale...

He asked us to remove all of the decals except for the number/letter board on the doors, which we did. Then Brad waxed the rest of the panels where the decals were removed. It looked a little naked, but I have to admit it looked really clean with the all red body now...

The owner sent a buddy down to pick up the car with a U-haul trailer, and after loading it a couple of times, then flipping it backwards, we were able to fit it onto this short trailer. I loaned them some padded Mac's Tie Downs for the wheels to secure it and off the car went. It has since been seen blasting around COTA, and last I heard - since he wanted more power - an S54 swap was underway. Sounds like fun!


If you remember back we bought this car in 2015, and it was kind of a hood rat car. It had every window tinted with at least one layer of tint. It had a salvage title and all sorts of little problems that are associated with that, which we fixed. We put it together and tested a number of different things for this chassis, and it competed well in NASA TTD competition in 2016 and again 2017, winning regional titles both years.

We tested three distinctly different suspensions (PSS9, PSS9 with custom springs, MCS RR2 with real springs), but kept the 17x10" wheel/245mm Hoosier R7 tires on each iteration, giving us some good data. Other than some of our very first races in NASA in 2016, it won every time out and usually set the track record for the class. We competed with this car in 13 race weekends, including 11 with NASA and 2 with SCCA Club Trials.

We weren't quite doing the MSR-Cresson 1.7 testing in stages like we do now with our other builds (like my S550 Mustang and our FR-S), as we didn't get a "baseline stock" time on the OEM suspension and didn't go back to that track after every round of mods. But we did make some headway with the lap times, dropping almost 4 seconds there starting with the PSS9 setup to the MCS RR2 setup, on the same tires. Not bad. And there was time left with the aero setup - just didn't get to run it here with good conditions.

Lap Times at MSR-C 1.7 CCW
  • 1:27.604 - NASA at MSR-C, March 12, 2016
  • 1:24.566 - SCCA Club Trials at MSR 1.7 CW, May 7, 2017
  • - NASA at MSR-C, March 11-12, 2017

The attitude of the car changed a lot from the earliest events (above left) to the later MCS setup (above right), before we even got into aero. I'm more than a little disappointed that we had to endure a sudden point penalty for this chassis right as we got underway, as we could have run full aero in TTD class before the * was added to this chassis - and that would have made the 2016-17 TTD seasons a LOT more fun. Still, for what the class allowed, I'm happy with the results and some of those TTD records will stand forever, as the class has been ended at the end of the 2018 season.


In early November 2017 a buddy called and said he knew of a widebody E46 coupe for sale. It supposedly had a full Flossman body kit installed, like the one shown below. It also had ultra-light carbon doors, a carbon roof panel, and came with an E46 M3 rear subframe. This is what this body kit looks like, when done right:

This is NOT the car I purchased, but rather a good example of what this body kit looks like on an E46 Coupe

That could hold some serious tire. So I went to go see it. It was buried in a storage unit under a mountain of parts. That made it hard to see all of the details, but the price seemed appropriate for what it had. I could tell the front nose needed a lot of work, and the floor had been modified for a side exhaust (not my favorite mod), but it looked like it was all there.

Once I had picked up the rolling chassis I could see it had some work that needed to be re-done. Super tall tires from a 5 series were rubbing the "undertray" (which we will cut off and replace with a splitter), so it was hard to steer. But it does have the real carbon doors, and some good bodywork on the flare install. Probably going to have to swap in the floor from a donor car to fix the side exhaust stuff, oh well.

Yes, it looks very ugly in its natural multi-color paint right now, and sits up like a 4x4, but I have a vision! The carbon roof panel wasn't installed completely and needed some help to go on all the way, but this post is running long so I will show that work next time. Everyone else at Vorshlag thinks I am crazy for buying this one, but my plan is simple: perform an LS swap, add MCS coilovers, 315 mm Hoosiers, cage it, add some aero, and put this one up for sale when its wrapping up.


Its sad to see the "Fireball" 330 go, but with the TT4 rules changes and other new projects we have underway already we didn't have a place to race it - and the new owner is enjoying the hell out of it.

As I am wrapping up this post, we might just have two more E46 Coupe chassis I am doing a deal for. So we should be starting a Spec E46 build with one of those two -or- the slick top white 330Ci chassis I already have. One of two new 330s (the running/driving silver one) could provide a major solution for our black 325Ci daily driver, to. I will continue to show all of our E46 related builds and repairs in this thread. Look for a new post soon!

Thanks for reading,
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Old 11-16-2018, 02:32 PM   #95
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Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: Albuquerque
Posts: 18
My Ride: 04 IMOLA ZHP 6spd
Year: 2004
Model: 330i
Transmission: 6spd
I too have read every post in this thread. Even though I have no intentions of tracking my ZHP, a wealth of information and entertaining as well.

Looking forward to reading about your next project.
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Old 04-11-2019, 09:01 PM   #96
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Posts: 158
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Project update for April 11th, 2019: Its been about 7 months since my last post in this E46 build thread, but we have finally started a new E46 build - just not any of the ones alluded to on the end of my last post. We have started a project with literally the worst of the 5 "potential" E46 chassis that I own. This new project kicked off last night using this black 2002 330Ci automatic rolling chassis, below.

Look at this cream puff! Who wouldn't want to make a race car from THIS?

In this post we will show the first steps of this endurance road race build. Everyone at Vorshlag is working on this E46 after-hours, and all employees who work on and chip in for consumables and some parts will get to race in it. More of a team building exercise than a "we will conquer the world!" type of build. We will keep a sharp eye on the budget and consumables, and share what we learn along the way. We have built several customer endurance race cars before and want to apply what we have learned without any outside interference, other than the class rules. We want to run it primarily with WRL, but also NASA TREC, ChampCar, maybe SCCA Time Trials, and more.


We have been planning a shop endurance road race car build for years. I bought this clean, running and driving silver 1999 328i Sedan in 2015 with the intention of doing a "team" endurance road race build, with employees working on it after hours. Well, they worked on it once and the plan went kaput.

The timing just wasn't right - some of our key employees at the time were not on board at the start, and other's lost interest soon after. Only a couple of people kicked in any money or volunteered any time on it (and luckily they still work here). After a while the car just sat, so we abandoned the "team" idea for this 328 chassis and my employees got their money back.

Eventually I spent money and Vorshlag shop time to finish this into a dual purpose street/track car, built to be sold "on spec". A customer saw it and bought it before we had completely finished it, then had us upgrade a few things like the HARD Motorsport flares, 17x10" wheels, and some other bits he saw on our red 330 that he liked.

Turned out nice, but not exactly what we had in mind initially - which was a fully caged, dedicated race car, built to the limit of a class, that everyone at Vorshlag could grab a seat in and road race in an endurance series.

In an ideal world I would foot the bill and just finance a "team" car that my employees could all drive, but "ideally" I would have been born a millionaire and having to "make a profit" wouldn't be a concern! The dollars and cents for a small business like mine just doesn't work out that way. We also have a backlog of customer race car builds, so I cannot take away from our finite amount of 8am-5pm shop labor time to work on "fun cars" for the employees to use - especially ones that are not new product development mules (like our shop S550 and 86, below).

Theoretically all of my shop-financed "test mule" builds (like my two current ones) should make the company money - with new products we develop and test with them. And for the most part, every test mule shop car we have ever built (other than my white C4) has earned their keep - making the company more than they cost to build, with new parts we can make and sell. Re-selling "other people's parts" (OPP) doesn't make real margins anymore, and building race cars simply on "time + materials" is a good way to go out of business.

I have to be very careful on these shop builds to not overspend, over-prep, or otherwise make them un-sellable when we are done with them. All of this massively restricts their class competitiveness - every single time. This isn't meant to be an excuse, just the reality of selling our shop test cars at the end of their time here. Full on, purpose built-for-one-class, gutted road race cars are VERY hard to sell.

My white TTC C4 is a perfect example of that - built it for a class that disappeared, which had a weird set of prep rules, and it took 18 months and I lost money trying to find the right buyer. I easily flushed $30K in billable hours down the toilet on that one. Ouch.

Again, I'm not a millionaire and cannot afford to build money-losing personal race cars, especially ones that generate ZERO new products (we don't make a damned thing for C4 Corvettes). At least this endurance build doesn't HAVE to "show a profit", since the labor is volunteer and a good chunk of the costs will be shared by 6 people here at Vorshlag.

So how many new products can we make on yet another E46 build? Well there are actually a number of things I have have thought of Vorshlag making, using some new tools and capabilities we have now - new parts and theories to test - and we will share all of that along the way. BMW made 4 million E46 chassis over this model run, so we won't likely run out of customers for this car any time soon. These are only secondary concerns on this build, unlike our normal "test mule" cars.


I bought this hot mess of a 330Ci chassis a few months ago, which I agreed to take it as part of a package deal with another 330Ci (Silver) I bought and a caged Z4 chassis that I sold. This black car had a clear title but had been stripped of everything of value - M54B30 engine, trans (automatic), brake calipers and rotors, front bumper cover, driver's seat, lots of brackets and doo-dads all over the car. To most people, it was worth little more than scrap metal. I reluctantly dragged it to my property and left it outside...

Andy at Clownshoe (who sold this chassis to me) told me to not build this car into anything like a SpecE46 race car, because it would need too many parts (which he had already picked clean). I took it off his hands for about $100 extra in this multi-car swap, mostly because he wanted the space and I had extra land to store it on at the new shop, outside with the other "potentials". It was a rolling chassis with 3 flat tires, nothing more, and soon forgotten.

It was a Texas car so it has zero rust, but there is a poorly repaired dent in the left rear quarter panel, no sunroof, and a busted side window - so the remaining interior was already trashed from the elements. The hood and LF fender were already destroyed in a weird accident, which involved gravity, a steep ramp and an immovable object. Again, I didn't care as I have TONS of leftover E46 body parts. The red hood was installed here a few months ago, which was leftover from my red TTD 330Ci (which got a carbon fiber hood). I have several sets of cheap, new E46 coupe front fenders I bought years ago for E36 steel flare jobs so I will donate one of those - and an aftermarket E46 M3 bumper cover.

After talking about a team build with everyone at Vorshlag for a number of weeks earlier this year, we seemed to all have a better attitude about it. The time seemed right. So we looked at various donor chassis and drivetrain options: NB or NC Miata, S197 Mustang, BMW E36 or E46, SN95 or Fox Mustang, C5 Corvette. We evan found a caged RX8 chassis we could have bought. In the end, I offered up this E46 chassis to the team plus a lot of leftover E46 parts for free, which pushed this car to the front of the pack. We started a shared spread sheet, then entered a bunch of costs and numbers. Talked about it at our group lunches for a couple of weeks...

On April 10th, 2019 we officially kicked off this build with a "demo day" on the black 330 chassis, after work. Pizza was ordered, beer was chilled, and the car was rolled into the shop for an initial weigh in. Started the night at 2045 pounds as a rolling chassis. It was previously missing: steering column, driver's seat, one door window, brake rotors and calipers, front nose, headlights, and the 72 pound sunroof cassette.

Everyone in town this week included me, Tim (above left), Evan (above right), Jason (below), and Amy, all worked on it with supervision by Erik from HPR. We took turns working on removing the interior bits inside the cabin, inside the trunk, and some remaining parts underhood.

We made sure to carefully remove anything we might want to keep, re-use, or resell. I weighed everything that we had not weighed in an E46 build before, especially anything that might go back into this car. The giant HVAC box is a challenge to remove - it is bolted in from the firewall side, behind a couple of plastic panels. The entire dash has to be removed to pull it out, from the cabin side. Not an easily serviced part - thanks BMW! We will replace it with a lightweight motorsports heater core + blower motor, with a metal firewall panel in place of the giant hole there.

The dash pad took some time to extract, but it came out cleanly, as did the dash bar structure behind it. We will likely re-use part of the dash pad, with all of the HVAC ducting removed. And we may or may not use the dash bar (if we do it will be incorporated into the cage). One thing I am insisting on is a clean, professional looking car, inside and out. A complete dash, even just the shell, makes a huge difference in how the interior looks - as well as reduces glare for the driver. We all want a good looking car - no "born to lose" jankiness that rolled out of the junkyard (even if this was a $100 scrap chassis and is being built affordably).

The interior bits and extraneous wiring FILLED the dumpster I hauled the Dumpster over next to the shop door with the tractor, to make loading the funky interior bits easy. #TractorTherapy

Engine bay was cleared out, but there wasn't much in there to begin with. I donated an entire E46 M3 rear subframe, one of my 210mm E46 M3 differentials (LSD 3.62 geared), some leftover prototype E46 long tube headers, and a couple of Magnaflow 3" mufflers leftover from a job we didn't need them for.

I've also got a set of 17x10" wheels from the red car, this gold set I used exactly ONCE. The buyer of the red 330 car wanted the silver wheels, and these only fit a non-M E46 with flares - so they haven't been easy to sell. We will likely use another set of HARD Motorsport flares, since we have installed those several times and know the tricks. Price is right, too.

At the end of about 3 hours of work we had the car 376 pounds lighter, with the carpet, rear seats, passenger seat, and the chassis wiring removed. We will likely NOT use any of the old BMW wiring, but I kept the harness for spare plugs and such we might need on other builds. The 1669 pound rolling chassis still has the driver's side door glass, window motors, both doors to gut, and some rear shelf bits to remove. Lots to go back in, of course. We need to pick the drivetrain, but knowing me it will likely be a rotary, with turbos. #ThisIsaBlatentLie


Just wanted to fire up this thread with a quick E46 project update, and I will follow up here after our work nights, especially when we finish something significant - like a cage, or brakes, or a new part we are testing. We will try to get this car up and going quickly, to get it on track for some initial testing, hopefully getting to a WRL event before the end of the year? Look for more build pics, weights, and drivetrain pics in the coming weeks. I will also post more frequently to the newly created "E46 Track Cars" Facebook page, if you are interested in these cars - join there.

Thanks for reading,
Terry Fair @ Vorshlag

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Old 07-29-2019, 03:23 PM   #97
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Vorshlag Track BMW E46 Development Thread

Project update for July 29th, 2019: Its been more than 3 months since my last post here - 2 months of that was due to an outage with our forum. A server change forced an update to vBulletn, which forced a server upgrade and move, then we had weeks of DNS name change server issues. Finally, in late July we got our forum back up and I'm catching up on project posts. We have had many of our weekly employee team volunteer work nights on the Vorshlag Team endurance E46 build, so I will catch us up to current time in this post.


We already removed all of the carpets, dash, door panels and other useless interior bits in the first week of work back in April 2019.

What we were left with inside was a LOT of floor pan sheet metal covered in this adhesive sound deadening material, which I will refer to henceforth as "tar paper". Its really more complex than that, but tar paper is easier to write. We would fight getting this heavy, sticky, brittle crap out of the BMW for weeks, employing a number of removal techniques. Some here have even called it the Tar Paper Wars. One technique worked better than others...


We did a cage job back in early 2018 on this EVO X, which had a welded 4-point roll bar we had to cut out and got a proper 6 point roll cage installed in it's place. This car still had all of the tar paper installed, which we had to remove since the entire interior and cage would later be painted grey.

The method we used to remove this tar paper was suggested by one of our fab guys at the time, Aaron, who had used it successfully on Japanese cars before. The idea is the dry ice gets the adhesive holding the tar paper to the sheet metal so cold that the adhesive breaks loose, and then the tar paper comes off in whole sheets! I wanted to see this witchcraft in person, so we gave it a go on the EVO.

With a 5 gallon bucket filled with crushed dry ice, isopropyl alcohol was added to make a chunky slurry that looked like a witches caldron. This slurry was carefully poured onto the top of the tar paper (the flat portions), then was allowed to sit and chill a bit, then light percussion with a hammer or scraper was used...

It was like magic. This stuff just popped out in whole sheets! I never would have believed it, but damn, the results were real. In this EVO. This one time...


We had high hopes and bought two 8 pound blocks of dry ice and a butt load of isopropyl alcohol to try this again on our E46 BMW's floors.

At first we tried a twist - putting the dry ice + alcohol slurry into a black trash bag, that could let us re-use the stuff in several sections, as well as the vertical paper applied at the front firewall, transmission tunnel, and back seat shelf around the fuel tank.

Well we gave up quickly on the trash bag, as it did not work at all. We went to straight dry ice + alcohol applied directly to the tar paper, as we did on the EVO. Problem was it was not working well on this car. Not at all.

We tried this method again another work night, with two more blocks of ice and more alcohol. And more "percussive" persuasion. After many hours over two work nights, $100 worth of dry ice and alcohol, we barely had the passenger and driver seat flat floor sections done, and it looks like a 12 year old's patchy beard. This just did not work on this BMW, maybe due to more advanced age or possibly different tar/adhesive materials the Germans used? I give this a solid FAIL rating.

I can NOT recommend this method to be used on a BMW. Not to mention that the alcohol poured out of the many plugged drain holes in the floor and trashed my new polished & coated concrete floors. I was less than happy about this - the alcohol/dry ice method is now banned in my shop.


We were still fighting this battle weeks later, and on the 3rd work night attempt to remove the tar paper, I insisted on trying my old proven method that we have used on dozens of BMWs in the past - a heat gun + scraper.

This worked so much better on this car. With heat applied to a small section of tar paper for a number of seconds, a 1.5" wide putty knife was used as a scraper, and this stuff peeled right off. Not in entire sheets like on the EVO, but in manageable chunks and in a timely manner.

The work went much faster than the dry ice, and no hammering was involved, just gentle scraping. It was like peeling fondant frosting off a wedding cake... came off in long chunks, after the heat nuked the adhesive.

The video above shows this heat technique used on some vertical sections of the transmission tunnel - which would be nearly impossible to do with dry ice, even if it even worked. Like all methods, this still leaves an adhesive residue behind, which we cleaned up on other work nights.

Tim tried a number of adhesive removers, from Acetone, to Goof Off Pro Strength, Brake Parts Cleaner, and finally Mineral Spirits/Paint Thinner. The Goof Off worked well enough, but its $15/gallon. The cheaper $7/gallon Mineral Spirits / Paint Thinner worked the best - just apply liberally to a blue shop paper towel, wipe it onto the adhesive, use some elbow grease, and the brown stuff comes off. Sometimes it took some work with a red ScotchBrite pad soaked in the same stuff as well.

I wouldn't call this adhesive removal step "easy" by any stretch of the imagination - its not a "spray on / wipe off" kind of effort. You gotta get in there, use some pressure, and a lot of heavy duty paper towels and a little ScotchBrite to get it off. Just takes time.

And sure, we could have used some power tools and abrasive discs or wire wheels, but that would have made a giant mess and we would have to prime the floors to prevent them from rusting before the interior is painted (after the cage is installed). I have heard from others that blasting or sanding this stuff only turns it into a fine mist of tar, which re-applies itself to the floorpan and other areas. As well as all over you and your shop. This heated peel + paint thinner method keeps the stock paint/primer clean and intact on the inside. We will just remove the paint near the "mounting feet" of the roll cage.


During some of the April and May work nights, while some of the crew was working on Tar Paper Removal, the rest of us worked on removing dead weight from the chassis. We would much rather overshoot our final weight goals on the light side and ballast up, than have to go back in chasing weight later, after the cage is installed. We also have 5-7 people on any given work night and we cannot all be working on the same area.

Pulling the doors off allowed two of us to work while 3+ people were inside the car peeling tar paper and cutting/cleaning. One of the heaviest single assemblies on a BMW are the doors. These hold the side glass, an electric power window motor + tracks, and high strength steel side impact "crash beams". It is also one of the easiest places to lose weight on a road race car that is getting a roll cage.

continued below

Last edited by Fair; 07-29-2019 at 03:24 PM.
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Old 07-29-2019, 03:23 PM   #98
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continued from above

After removing the side glass, Evan used the plasma cutter to remove the bulk of the steel inner structure. Then I used the cut off wheel on a die grinder to trim out the hard to reach bits, as well as carefully cut out the side impact structure. This structure is tack welded into places we cannot reach, so it was sliced off at the ends, carefully avoiding damage to the outer door skin. Then the adhesive strip along the middle of the door was sliced with a putty knife and the crash structure peeled away.

I left the front structure in place for the side mirror mounts, and some of the inner structure around the perimeter (to give the door some structure) as well as near the door latch and hinge mounts. This will allow us to still open and close the doors. The final weight was still 29.0 pounds per side, which makes the 8 pound carbon doors on our widebody E46 look that much more attractive. I didn't get a before weight (doh!) on a stock E46 coupe door, but I will make a point to before the next update.

The front and rear glass were removed by a local windshield guy for $50 - he came by one weekend and used some specialized tooling to get these out cleanly. We can re-use the double thick safety glass front windshield (28.2 pounds) but we will replace the 18.9 pound tempered rear glass with Lexan.

There are two "cavities" at the back of the engine bay, made with some sheet metal structures, that seal two the underside of the hood of a BMW E46. These are made to house the brake booster + master cylinder + main power circuits/relays on one side and the ABS system (or sometimes a battery on diesels) on the other side. The bits inside can be switched left to right for different markets, depending on which side the steering wheel is on.

Well we plan on re-wiring the whole car, and the ABS pump and computer will not be in the OEM locations, so we can get rid of the sheet metal structure on both sides. A few minutes with a Saws-All took care of the bulk of the work.

The rest was removed more carefully with a cut off wheel and even a spot weld cutter. The structure shown here on the left (driver's) side of the engine bay was more completely removed, as it makes room for the exhaust on the engine we have planned.

You can see initial work on the "spot weld removal" above at left. The additional structure these pieces provide is negligible when you have a caged race car. Also, about 80% of the the "rear deck" structure (which the back seat uprights connect to) was removed, which was a little over 12 pound when we weighed it. Some classes don't let you remove that type of structure, but all the classes we plan to run will.


This was a good time to stop and power wash the chassis, while it still could be rolled outside. On one of the work nights (during the middle of the "tar paper wars" above) we rolled the E46 outside and pressure washed everything.

Under hood, inside the cabin and trunk, exterior - all the things.

As you can see below, this is with some of the "rear seat" deck structure is removed.

So much nicer working on a car that has the stinky interior removed, grease and other nasty "road funk" washed out.


Something we commonly see on E30, E36 and E46 BMWs is the front strut towers - which are supposed to be flat - get worn over time to have a curved "mushroom" headed shape.

This happens due to a somewhat thin sheet metal used to make the stamping for the strut tower plus the smaller, softer aluminum strut top mount that transfers load into the tower. If you hit enough big potholes over time, to the point of bottoming the suspension, the larger diameter strut tower will deform around the smaller strut top mount. The 3 studs from the top mount will also "splay outwards" like above. The two towers in this car were badly deformed...

The fix is rather low tech - I like using a piece of 2x6" lumber a a 3 pound sledge hammer to flatten the upper portion back into shape. Light rapping downward with this flat edge, walking around and pressing laterally next to around the inner ring. I fixed both towers in about 45 minutes, then we could install a camber plate on that side (during suspension and wheel mockups, which I will show next time).

This video clearly shows the technique on flattening the towers. Of course the front struts need to be out of the car to do this, and there are some tips to keep the towers from deforming again in the video.


We have a lot more work we have done over the last 3 months of weekly work nights to cover, but this update is getting long so I am going to save that for next time.

We have researched, ordered and fitted some big flares, which will work with a wide tire package. We also developed a custom big brake kit (which will test on this car), that fits inside 17" diameter wheels. And of course the engine and transmission have been picked. Yep, swapping in a Mazda Miata 1.6L with a super charger! #ThisIsAnotherLie

The air filter will be mounted as shown above, if that gives you any hint to the real engine we're using. Oh and we have a low cost "home brew" cool suit cooler we will share. Should save $500 or more over buying pre-made bits.

Until next time!
Terry Fair @ Vorshlag

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Last edited by Fair; 07-29-2019 at 03:25 PM.
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Old 07-30-2019, 09:51 AM   #99
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Fun stuff. I really enjoy following your blog and updates
04' AW | Naturbraun| ZSP/ZPP| H&R| ARC 8

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Old 08-23-2019, 04:21 PM   #100
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Originally Posted by mbco View Post
fun stuff. I really enjoy following your blog and updates

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