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Thread: Redshift's 2003 540iTSC/6 M-sport build/maintenance/mod thread (w/pics & videos)

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    Redshift's 2003 540iTSC/6 M-sport build/maintenance/mod thread (w/pics & videos)

    This is the story of my 2003 540iT M-sport from when I bought it through now. Maybe someone will find it helpful. It's also a good way for me to keep a journal of what is happening with it on a regular basis.

    After a long search, and after realizing that '03 M-sport tourings were very rare, when I saw this clear across the country on BMW's CPO site, I knew I should jump on it despite it not being the color combo I was hoping for. Sapphire Black on sand. It does have every factory option except PDC (what were they thinking leaving that out?!?). It had just under 25,000 miles on the odometer at the time and was a single owner car. I was told the PO curbed the front bumper so they replaced it with a brand new one. The wheels were also refinished.

    When I purchased, BMW was having a sale to move out the older E39 CPO cars. The offer was "we'll make your first two payments" so I financed the entire amount and did the shortest term possible so that BMW ended up paying almost $2K of the purchase price. That's pretty good considering it had already lost roughly $25k in value versus MSRP (I have the sticker).

    It was located in California so I had a friend who was living there at the time go and check it out and it seemed in good working order so I made an offer, negotiated a bit, and then arranged for shipping from Berkeley to Raleigh in summer of 2006.

    Here is what she looked like when I got her home:




    Pretty soon after I bought her, Dinan was having a massive 50% off (I think that was it) sale on all parts, so being a track guy, and having a track instructor wife, we found the stock suspension a bit floaty (even though it's a sport suspension) and we jumped on a Dinan Stage 3 suspension plus engine and transmission software. I also added a Conforti CAI to go along with it and of course it needed M5 wheels in 18x9.5 all around and 275/35/18 tires to match the new stance:






    One night, we were at our local BMW CCA dinner and a member stood up and asked if anyone had an E39 with sand interior. I said I did. He asked if I was interested in the Euro dash conversion as he was selling his E39 and wanted to find someone who would appreciate it. I said sure, and asked how much he wanted for it, knowing it was probably going to be hundreds of dollars given the parts cost over $1k from BMW new. Long story short, he came to my house and completely installed the kit for $250 including parts and labor. You could say I was thrilled!



    The touring was happy for a while in this configuration living along side it's slightly older, but more powerful sibling, my '01 M5:



    I then added M5 style side mirrors and carbon fiber roundels plus a Magnaflow muffler:






    Some slightly skinnier winter wheels and tires (D-Force EmPower 18x8.5 with Conti DWS) and M5 front calipers and rotors to give her a bit more stopping power to match the wider tires:





    The rear hatch stopped working so I found the problem and fixed it - the wire had become cut from the open/close of the hatch over time:



    Leaking power steering system (and probably valve cover gaskets too):



    Added Umnitza VXX LED for the halos:






    Having some funkiness in the rear, I decided to go ahead with rear subframe bushings at around 60-65k miles. Turns out they weren't in such bad condition but at least they're good for another 80k now:




    Removal of T-bar up front:




    Coming home from dinner one night, I got a coolant light and stopped at the gas station. Turned out she was bleeding all over. Full system replacement commenced around 70-75k with radiator, thermostat, water pump, pulleys, belts, overflow tank, all the hoses, all the sensors, and more:






    I got the bug again and wanted to install an S62 so I bought one along with all the parts I'd need to convert the car, but as it turns out I ended up selling those in favor of adding a supercharger instead. Long story and lots of pros/cons later I felt it was the best decision for me at this time.



    After selling what was left of the S62 and associated parts, I had some good parts left over: LSD from the M5, driveshafts from a 540/6 and M5, M5 axles, M5 gauge cluster, and M5 steering box. I found the rear suspension and parts of the front were in pretty bad shape, and since my power steering was leaking like mad and getting worse, I decided it was time to pull everything, install the M5 steering box, and refresh the entire suspension. I ended up replacing all the control arms, bearings, rear lower ball joint, and even the front suspension from Dinan to Ground Control. It made a huge difference in comfort and handling and I am thrilled with the change. The steering ratio on the M5 is much more natural and I was able to wire up and code servotronic thanks to geargrinder's great instructions and blackknight530i's help.















    Headlights needed adjuster repair:



    Replacing front lower grille with open grille for better brake cooling:




    M5 gauge cluster and AeroForce Interceptor Scan gauge for monitoring boost, coolant temp, and more:







    Now I'm working on the supercharger installation. While I'm in there, valve covers (newly powdercoated in black wrinkle, special thanks to geargrinder for lending me a spare set) are being replaced with gaskets, new spark plugs, new injectors, valley pan gasket, and more. We also have to do a "before" dyno to see how the changes work:





    Yeah, the valve cover inner gaskets were leaking horribly - look at all that oil on the coils and in the spark plug valleys:




    A while later, all cleaned up and ready to pull the covers:




    This is where I'm at as of this morning.
    Last edited by Redshift; 03-04-2015 at 09:00 AM.
    2003 Ferrari Red M3 3.5L wagon // 2011 Montego Blue tri-turbo 335d wagon
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  2. #2
    AquilaBMW's Avatar
    AquilaBMW is offline Mad Bimmerist BMW CCA Member
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    You sir have committed a HORRIBLE CRIME to both humanity and the automotive community! You must hand over your keys immediately as I am here to save you from you and you us from you and all that! As a friend and brother in wheels - I feel it is my duty to bring that car back to No. Cal!!!!
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    Give it a minute, see if that ruse worked!



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    How about...no.
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    Pull n Release
    Its not red. You lied.

    Another FP5241 Creation
    Parting out M54 Engine. Intake and all. Cats avail as well. PM ME!

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    AquilaBMW is offline Mad Bimmerist BMW CCA Member
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    Fine! In that case, I want to pack my touring full of parts and head to your garage - don't need a bed, I can sleep in one of the cars till all the work is done. AND... I want to ride the Ziggle

    Have you been hanging out with Brandon? Your pictures look alike. Nice work there man, I am very envious indeed - that wagon went to a very good home. Funny it came from Berkeley. Was that from Weatherford BMW? I know a good guy that works there who also has a 540iT. Imagine that, only 15 miles or so away from me .

    So, how many garage facilities do you have? How is the S/C build coming along and how are you feeling after your procedure man? I think I might have to buy my M5 cluster back from the guy I sold it to now that I know it can be properly and completely programmed to my 540iT.

    I look forward to the updates.



  6. #6
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    Come on out. We have spare room. The ziggle has a weight limit. I'm not allowed

    Brandon, no, but hope to meet him soon. He's not far from here. I think it was from Weatherford actually. I will have to look at my records.

    Garages - house came with 3 parking spots (very tight but do-able). I later added another extra large 2-car with the lift. SC build is in progress. Currently doing the stuff shown at the end above - i.e. pulling valve covers and doing valley pan, etc. My high flow M60 manifold is delayed due to weather but should be here Monday. Then VF is sending a replacement AC line (the one in my kit won't fit and is wrong in several key ways). I'm feeling great up top, but my hip and back and leg are a bit sore from ice breaking a week ago and shoveling snow just this week. I'll live

    Hopefully more updates later today. Going out to the shop now (heater has been running so it should be somewhat comfy).
    2003 Ferrari Red M3 3.5L wagon // 2011 Montego Blue tri-turbo 335d wagon
    2012 Deep Sea Blue X5d // 2003 Orient Blue 330i wagon
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    //M5s, 4.8iS , Z32TT
    Nice thread. You're not too far from me.

    2000 Dinan S1 //M5 (my DD) --------------- 06 DINAN E53 4.8iS (wife's) -------------- 90 Straman Z32TT (my pride & joy)

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    Very nice progress thread! Also nice euro dash too
    2003 BMW 540i [Sterling Gray / Gray]
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    All types of E39 OEM Used HVAC Buttons
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    Awesome ride.
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    Long posts ftw!


  11. #11
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    Man, love your garage! That's what I need. I have a car port, HOA does not allow work like that, so I do all that at the shop I work at, but have to finish up what I start before I leave, sucks! Nice work so far!

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    This morning I pulled the valve covers and intake manifold off. Currently cleaning all the mating surfaces and soon I hope to have the valley pan off and replaced with a new one, but for now it's family time. I'll get back to work later or maybe tomorrow.

    2003 Ferrari Red M3 3.5L wagon // 2011 Montego Blue tri-turbo 335d wagon
    2012 Deep Sea Blue X5d // 2003 Orient Blue 330i wagon
    In progress/For Sale: 2003 Alpine White M3/ZHP wagon // 2003 Japan Red M3/ZHP wagon

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    I'm in all fronts for this build. Looking good. Cleaning everything good is a big time killer. Good luck on the project.
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    You sure are, Philly. Extra special thanks and shout outs to geargrinder, JimLev, philly, and a fourth person who shall remain nameless.
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  15. #15
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    Great thread. It's always nice to see owner who takes care of his car the way you do. Keep up the good work.
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    I want your man cave.....

    Awesome work so far.....do I spy an unbuffered temp gauge?

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    The AeroForce gauge reads coolant temp and other data from the OBD2 connector.
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    Nice work dude! Looks awesome. I'm jealous of your car lift, that makes things 100x easier than with jack stands.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Redshift View Post
    The AeroForce gauge reads coolant temp and other data from the OBD2 connector.
    I was referring to one of the pics - it shows the M5 cluster temp gauge at the 3/4 mark yet your Aeroforce readout at 226F.....which would only put it at about 107C which wouldn't start moving the stock buffered gauge...

  20. #20
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    Ah yes. Coding issue now fixed. It's still buffered as before and stays vertical at ~185-230° F.
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    Seriously jelly of your pristine man cave. Sure, I have a lift and 12' ceilings with 30' depth, but I also have 3 teenagers with bikes, toys, projects(hey, at least Colin is happy turning a wrench on his beleaguered Wrangler) so access is seriously restricted and looks like a hoarder's paradise. Sigh. Maybe in 5 years when they are all gone.

    Nice write-up and great project, although why anyone would want to tweak a long-roof when there's an M5 in the stable is beyond me. Must be an addiction .
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    Another one that doesn't get the Tourings....

  23. #23
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    Nice build thread Redshift, just saw it.
    Next on the list should be modding the ziggle so Aquila can ride it.
    Your old valve covers have to be about the worst ones I've ever seen.
    I'm heading over to my friend's house tomorrow to continue the cam chain guide job.
    Gotta do some wrenching before the next snow storm tomorrow.
    Last edited by JimLev; 02-28-2015 at 07:35 PM.

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    I like that gauge, looked for more info about it but the manufacturer doesn't show a BMW application...
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  25. #25
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    I did some testing for them. It won't support all parameters but with the addition of a 2 bar MAP sensor, it will be more than sufficient for me. If you have questions let me know.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Jim, the valve covers are a huge mess. Flakes everywhere. Trying to keep things clean is a nightmare inside a horror show.
    2003 Ferrari Red M3 3.5L wagon // 2011 Montego Blue tri-turbo 335d wagon
    2012 Deep Sea Blue X5d // 2003 Orient Blue 330i wagon
    In progress/For Sale: 2003 Alpine White M3/ZHP wagon // 2003 Japan Red M3/ZHP wagon

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