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A purists nightmare - E46 drift build

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Okay dudes, the time has come to create a build thread. So the story leading up to the current shell I will be building is a bit long, but Ill keep it short and sweet. 


I purchased a 2001 330i back in June of 2017. The car was decently clean but pretty hacked up from the previous owner, the reason for buying the 330i was because it had quite a few decent mods that would transfer over to the end goal of the 323ci shell that I had also worked into another deal.

The 330 i ended up needing a new engine before we finished the deal but i still bought it, with that being said I located a whole new m54b30 long block to drop in. While the engine was out I did a few upgrades including headers, condor engine and trans mounts, GAS Disa rebuild kit, HD clutch and resurfaced the aftermarket single mass flywheel the previous owner installed and a RK-Tunes performance flash.


The idea behind the 330i was to get some good practice in without having to build a car from the ground up to get my feet wet at the track. The chassis came with a MG Solutions max angle steering kit, some custom true rear coils (and a somewhat reinforced subframe/rear strut towers), an ASD dual caliper hydro set up and a few other odds and ends. By the end of the season I had installed my Buddy Club bucket seats from my civic into the car as well as changed the diff to a 3.46 and picked up some StanceUSA XR1 coilovers for the front.


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Fast forward to the beginning of November and this 330i was completely stripped to nothing and the shell was taken to the scrap yard. 

Now why would I strip and scrap what appears to be a perfectly good shell? Because I was able to get hooked up with a 2000 323ci from North Carolina! Ill drop a photo below, all I have to say is dont judge a book by its cover hahah. I have alot of plans for this little 323ci, some of which will be happening over this winter and others that are more of a long term end goal for the car.




As of right now the plan is to swap over the m54b30 as well as convert the 323ci to a manual transmission using all of the parts from my 330i (another reason the 330i was an important car to have for a bit) The 323 will be getting the suspension swapped into it as well as all bushings replaced and a subframe reinforcement. 

The engine bay is going to get done up as well. I previously had a 95 civic hatchback that I owned for 7 years that had alot of attention to detail in many forgotten areas so that being said this car will end up the same way. :D 

I plan to update the thread regularly as parts come in and are installed as well as making moved on the build that dont necessarily mean buying parts is necessary. I am extremely excited to get the car done and add my personal touches that may be a bit out of the ordinary compared to many bmws!

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Its time for an UPDATE! Holy shit has the past month been a stressful but rewarding in the end, so thats why I have been slacking on updates here haha For starters the street tuning went wel

This originates from early drifters during the oil shortages who would draft eachother to get better fuel economy on the track.   

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So the first order of business was to get the M52tu and that boat anchor of an auto trans out. 


Then came getting all the dirt and grime cleaned up, the bay will be getting all the seams stitch welded and some of the holes filled as well. Then a fresh coat of paint and the bay is pretty much done. ABS is removed and I will be installing the ChaseBays brake bias valve with my own set up of brake lines rather than using the soft lines that the kit is available with. 20171117_171313.jpg20171117_202731.jpg20171118_190223.jpg


Thats about it for now until the bay is ready for stitch welding and etc.


Super pleased with how well the bay cleaned up after seeing all that grease and grime originally.

SIDE NOTE: Not sure if anyone here has swapped a m54b30 into a 323 but I know I will need to convert the shell to throttle by wire or the manifold to throttle by cable. Has anyone ever had experiences with this?  ALSO whats the deal with the fuel systems here? The 323 has a feed and return line where the 330 has only a feed. Can I run the fuel rain from the m52tu and my m54b30 injectors? Or is there more to it than that? Thanks in advance if anyone has any insight!

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On 11/21/2017 at 0:58 PM, Tkuhn said:

SIDE NOTE: Not sure if anyone here has swapped a m54b30 into a 323 but I know I will need to convert the shell to throttle by wire or the manifold to throttle by cable. Has anyone ever had experiences with this?  

I would guess the mounting bracket/pedal would bolt right into the 323 shell, but I think the wiring is part of the body harness. I figure you could probably either strip the necessary wires/plugs from the harness or swap the whole body harness. Not sure how all the CAN bus stuff will cross over on the 323 harness though. If you don't care about having a check engine light and a million trouble codes, the engine will run perfectly fine without all it's CAN buddies as long as it has the bare essentials. 


On 11/21/2017 at 0:58 PM, Tkuhn said:

ALSO whats the deal with the fuel systems here? The 323 has a feed and return line where the 330 has only a feed. Can I run the fuel rain from the m52tu and my m54b30 injectors? Or is there more to it than that? Thanks in advance if anyone has any insight!

The fuel pressure regulator on the m52tu is most likely part of the fuel rail like on the m50/52/etc if there is a feed and return line going to the fuel rail. On the M54, fuel pressure regulator is attached to the fuel filter, so the return line is down underneath the car and is part of the filter assembly, only one line goes up to the fuel rail. M54 fuel filter:



I assume the e46 323ci has the filter more towards the engine similar to an e36, so just swapping to the correct filter/FPR is probably your best/cleanest bet. If the filter is near the fuel tank like on an e30 with the feed/return lines running up to the front of the car, you can use an s54 FPR housing with an m54 FPR (lower pressure, 3.5 bar instead of 5 bar) to retain the original filter location. This housing has a threaded piece that attaches to the fuel filter that you can replace with a barbed fitting for a 'remote mount'. This is how I am doing it on my swap.



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I looked at the setup of my buddies 330i and it has the fpr on the filter as shown. The 323ci has the regulator separate after the filter still under the car tho. So I'm going to get a 330 filter and possibly the feed line to the rail and the returns and feeds pre filter look like they should line up. Thanks for the insight!

Also I'm waiting to hear back from Jordan at RK...... Lol but I'd assume wiring the pedal in shouldn't be a big deal, I don't think the entire car is can bus considering how many wires are in the thing. I thought the can bus was only to communicate dme to cluster. I could be wrong. I do a bit of can bus trouble shooting at work so I'm not completely blind on the subject but I have yet to hear back from my tuner on the subject, alot of other stuff going on before I really have to worry about it haha

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More progress from over the weekend :)


I guess I never mentioned this but the bay is getting cleaned up for stitch welding to help stiffen up all of those spot welded panels. Some of the holes are going to be filled and shaved as well. Not going too crazy like on my civic as this car is being built for street/track but this is definitely where I planned to bring some of my own, possibly unconventional flare to the car.


It seems like not many e46 guys shave bays, or do anything to them for that matter lol. Luckily at our shop myself and fellow wibimmers member nick are both doing close to the same thing so we had a few plates lazer cut to the exact size of the holes we are filling. 


Almost ready for welding.20171126_202350.jpg



Also got all the wiring pulled back into the cabin to be sorted through. Going to be getting rid of all the unnecessary things like ABS, SAI, washer fluid and etc. The interior is going to be partially stripped but I am still playing with ideas on exactly how to execute it and make the interior what I want. 


One thing I will be doing is swapping in my black dash from the sedan, will also be looking for some black door cards along with re-wrapping the headliner and A pillars.



Also was able to get all of the leftover tape residue off both the driver and passenger side which was from the windows being taped up while it sat outside for 3 years lol

Pretty happy with the results, here's a little before and after of the passenger side.







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  • 2 weeks later...


More progress over the weekend!

First and foremost one of the things that was on top of my list to figure out was getting the wiring figured out for the accelerator pedal. After lots of researching and running through diagrams we were able to figure out the wiring.

What we ended up doing was stripping down the chassis harness from my sedan and completely removing the pedal wiring from the pedal connector to X-600004 on the DME where I was able to de-pin it. We also pulled the wiring for the clutch switch completely out of the old sedan harness, also de-pinning it from the ews connector as well as the DME plug. All of the wiring was then installed into the coupe harness. Unfortunatly I forgot to take a photo but I was able to completely wire the 2 harnesses into the chassis harness as if they were there from the factory, most people seem to just wire the clutch sensor to the brake wires but I wanted to get as clean of an install as I could. Proably more proud of it than i should be but whatever haha.

Enough rambling about that though, another larger step was getting both the driver and passenger side harnesses that run through the bay uncovered all the way back. I then sorted through the wiring that was not necessary and removed it from the harness as far back as possible and capping all the wires with sealing shrink wrap.

I have some tech flex along with a few connectors on order that will hopefully arrive before the weekend.




Another large step was also started on the bay. Last week I was able to get the bay completely prepped for my buddy to stitch weld the seams along with start welding in the delete plates.



Then came some grinding. Im going to be leaving all of the stitch welds and painting over them but all of the filled holes need to be ground flat and then a bit of filler will be needed.



A bit more welding needs to be done but its coming along nicely!

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The M54 is going to be awesome! One honest question though:  you mentioned that you are doing the swap into the 323i chassis because it is nicer. you also mention that you participate in skid racing. When I imagine skid racing, I imagine inevitable carnage. So from way over here in my armchair I get a little worried for you thinking about all that swap and cleanup work when the original 330i chassis was still "good"

I know im missing something here so please correct/enlighten me, or maybe your skid racing venues aren't as treacherous as my imagination would make them out to be. 

Loving the updates, keep em coming!

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Understandable statement lol. So that's the thing, when most people think drifting they assume a bunch of piles of shit that smash into walls and eachother but that's not necessarily the whole case. It's more fun to get close while in tandem and not hit. Although I still have alot to learn and seat time to be had I can tell you that for sure. It's really all in a person's style, which is all drifting is based around, style. While it may happen someday that the bumper drags a wall or there's some contact with another car, I'm completely aware that cars can get thrashed while sliding. The idea behind this car is it's a rust free and unmolested chassis. My goals are a street car that I take to the track on the weekends as well as probably do some dumb shit in the streets (when it is safe) and also to build it to be presentable at any show. I mean when it comes down to it some people like smashing things and having shitty cars haha I'd like to have a nice car that is a looker and still performs well. I hope that makes some sense atleast haha

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Thanks! I'm definatly trying to bring a bit of the style from what I learned over 7 years on my civic to this chassis. The plan is to have this first version of the build done before automotion 2018 in May. Because it's more important to me to get seat time and more enjoyable to have the car done and on the road then tear into it over the next winter to make improvements and build onto what I already have. 

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Welding has been completed on the bay. All of the holes that I wanted to have filled to be shaved are completed as well as the stitch welding on the under sides of the frame rails. Next up is some more grinding then filler, sanding and paint!



My wiring supplies came in as well and I am super happy with the way things are turning out. Got both of the harnesses finalized where they exit the cabin of the car and are routed up though the fender frames. I learned alot about wiring and my work developed alot over the years that I was building my civic, if there is one thing I learned its do it right the first time (I redid the wiring on my hatch 4 times before I was close to happy with it). So with that being said I am going into this car with every bit of knowledge I have and doing everything right the first time.

All of the wiring is wrapped in flame resistant tech-flex and the harness connections are Deutsch plugs as well.


Here is the passenger side connections.



And on the driver side I was able to use just one 12 pin bulkhead style connector.




And I was also able to figure out the routing and set up for the heater valve wiring. This car will still have a heater core and heat, because I enjoy driving in fall with the windows down and the heat on haha.




That's it for now. Grinding, filler and sanding will hopefully start this week. Then once the bay is near ready (or i get sick of not feeling my fingers) I will be continuing the wire tuck with routing to all of the components on the front end.


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