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Thread: E46 Touring - S54 Swap - Build Thread!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    York, PA / NYC Manhattan
    My Cars
    72 2002tii, 87 300 SDL, 91 M5, 95 M3 LTW

    E46 Touring - S54 Swap - Build Thread!

    2002 JapanRot E46 325i Touring:

    Car began as a stock 325it auto and I decided to swap an S54 and associated drivetrain into my 02 325i touring when a crashed E46 M3 showed up on Craigslist. I pulled the following from the donor car to be swapped from front to back:

    Rad support and associated fan, etc.
    S54, accessories, and all wiring
    Front struts and brakes
    Fuel Pressure Regulator
    Fuel pump, sending unit, hard fuel lines
    Rear subframe and brakes

    Engine prep:

    Replaced all of the VANOS Seals from
    Replaced VANOS solenoid pack from
    Replaced all of the VANOS bolts with OEM S54 Z4M bolts
    Replaced CPV with Kassel Performance CPV Viton O-Ring
    Performed Valve adjustment
    Installed new OEM BMW Rod Bearings

    New LUK DMF flywheel
    New LUK clutch kit
    Amsoil MTF

    Replaced all control arm bushings with Lemfoerder units
    Replaced subframe and diff bushings with poly units from RevShift - 80A
    Amsoil Severe Gear 75W140 diff fluid


    Replaced front struts with E46 M3 Bilstein Sports
    Replaced all springs with E46 M3 Eibach lowering springs
    Rogue Engineering FCAB's installed in Non-M FCAB's

    E46 M3 front brakes - Machined carriers .25"
    E46 M3 rear brakes

    Then, the wagon was pulled in on a Wednesday at 630PM and we started to remove the M54. I found it easiest to drop the subframe and take everything out from the bottom. The E46 wagon stock control arms, knuckles, and steering rack were re-used. I bolted the S54 up to the subframe and lowered the chassis back onto the front subframe. Ultimately we drove the vehicle back out on Friday very late in the night. Total time was just over 2 days.

    The rear subframe was swapped for the M unit. Install was quite simple and bolts right up to the wagon. Poly bushings and OEM bushings were all replaced. The E46 M3 rear brakes were used. 325i speed sensors were used as the DSC from the original car was kept in place.

    Transmission bolts right up. New flywheel and clutch were installed. Both OEM. The E46 M3 slave and E46 325i master cylinder were used with no issues. All mounts and shifter bushings were replaced. The E46 M3 6 speed linkages were used. An E39 M5 illuminated wooden knob was sourced. The boot was removed so the E46 boot could be used:

    Engine was mounted with poly mounts from RevShift (80A). The secondary air pump was blocked off with OEM plate and gasket. The coolant expansion bottle is now only held in place with one bolt as I forgot to remove the additional M3 bracket from the donor vehicle. The coolant level sensor wiring was extended to the passenger side and plugged right in. The M3 windshield washer tank did NOT fit behind my stock bumper. There were multiple clearance issues. A custom aluminum tank was built to mount behind the bumper; however, many stock BMW tanks could be used in the rear bin if desired. The connections needed to be extended for the pump and level sender.

    The ECU was setup with a performance tune and EWS delete as well as a few other modifications. The electronics were converted per this chart:

    The stock green E46 fuel pump relay was kept in place.

    The M3 instrument cluster was re-programmed by Kassel Performance. Everything works per the M3 and shows the correct chassis mileage! No error lights or tamper dot! Also, after the VIN was recoded, the DSC module came back online and the traction control was working again per the original vehicle. The remaining modules in the car needed to be reprogrammed as well as the car was once auto.



    Next up was the exhaust. A Rogue Engineering rasp eliminator pipe was used along with stock headers and stock rear section. The rear most section was cut right behind the last resonator and an E36 M3 Active Autowerk catback was cut up and used. The hangers on the AA pipe were moved, and it was actually a pretty close overall fit. A small section (about 12") of straight stainless tube was used to butt the OEM piece up with the E36 unit. The E36 catback was used due to the output design for the stock rear bumper and the fact that it was laying around not being used.

    The Eibach/Bilstein suspension combo from the E46 was pulled and installed front and rear on the touring. The front struts don't taper like the non-M struts and sit higher in the knuckle. Subsequently, ride height with the lowering springs was approximately the same as the stock touring sport suspension. OEM 15mm spring pads were added to the rear to even out the ride height. Rogue Engineering FCAB helped to finish off the front end. Both M3 swaybars were used along with the M end links.

    E46 M3 Bilstein front struts
    E46 M3 Eibach springs all around
    E46 M3 Bilstein rear shocks
    E46 M3 swaybars and end links
    E46 325i front knuckles
    E46 325i front control arm bushings upgraded to RE pieces
    E46 325i stock Lemfoerder control arms
    E46 15mm raised rear rubber spring pads

    Final ride height:

    The only truly custom piece other than the exhaust was that the windshield washer reservoir had to be custom made to mount behind the bumper. The E46 M3 bottle did not find behind my stock bumper, contrary to what has been posted on the web.

    Next up will be a full MTech2 kit along with M3 mirrors. Both parts are due in any day and will be installed as soon as they have been painted. A different wheel package will be added in the spring

    Hopefully this thread can be used as a pretty good source for anyone looking to swap an S54 into a non-M. I hope that I covered most of the frequently asked questions, but if not, please feel free to ask!
    WANTED: 18" BBS RCj's

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Raleigh, NC
    My Cars
    SR-71 Blackbird
    Nice! The whole thing looks clean and well executed.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
    My Cars
    Gas and Oil Burners
    Wow! Nicely done! Looking forward to the progress.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Plymouth, MI
    My Cars
    '88 635 CSi, '09 X5 4.8
    Nice job!

    I got the M3 washer bottle to fit behind a ZHP bumper, but it required some work.

    I'm guessing that the touring subframe is different enough that you couldn't transfer over the whole M3 setup with the diff and axles?
    Shea Burns

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Memphis, TN
    My Cars
    2001 740i Sport
    Fantastic...been daydreaming of doing wagons. Great job! call before you sell!
    Last edited by TNe38s; 01-16-2016 at 02:16 PM.

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