• Epic E46 M3 S54 cylinder head rebuild with 288/280 Schrick cams and Evolve tune results in 353 naturally aspirated horsepower

      This is an absolutely awesome naturally aspirated S54 build that caught the attention of BimmerBoost. Why? Namely because it is so well documented and also because the impressive results. Many so called experts used to state the S54 motor in the E46 M3 was maxed out from the factory. Time has shown that to be incorrect but as time has gone on owners have continued to coax more and more power out of the motor. With 288/280 Schrick cams, some cylinder head work, headers, and a great tune from Evolve this E46 M3 hit an incredible 353 naturally aspirated horsepower at the wheels.

      The pictures and words below are all from a forum poster that goes by the name of nickpiper12. BimmerBoost felt this build deserved praise and attention. Enjoy:

      I would like to start this thread off by thanking the people who have helped me throughout this month long project. Samo (samo6556), Alex (flipm3), Chris (abad46), Alex L (Alex Lipowich), Bogus (CM-2), and my buddy Quinn from Patrick BMW with the parts hookup as always! Whether it was wrenching late, lending tools/parts, or…, you guys really helped me out throughout all this. Couldn't have done it without ya. I'm glad it's finally done though.

      I've been posting bits and pieces of my build in my journal. With all things I do with this car, I seem to go "all out" at one time. It's just what makes sense to me even though it's more down time and of course more cost all at once.

      The initial plan was to install:

      Schrick 288/280 Standard Lift Cams
      Beisan Oil Pump Disk
      Beisan VANOS Seals Repair Kit
      Beisan VANOS Sealing Plate Repair Kit
      Beisan VANOS Rattle Repair Kit
      Rebuilt OE Fuel Injectors (RC Engineering)
      SPAL Electric Fan
      OE Gaskets/Chain Guide/Etc.

      This is where this long journey begins...

      Taking the bumper off for removal of fan

      Upon opening, all was good. No broken exhaust tabs or anything out of the ordinary. Just started tearing it down.

      Of course we had to take a little break!

      Back to work!

      Beisan Oil Pump Disk Install

      Chain Guide New Vs. Old

      Beisan Seals on!

      Now here is where I decided to go full retard

      Airbox out for a cam install?

      Everything layed out, trying to be organized

      abad46 and flipm3 doing some work of their own while I remove the headers

      Here they are!

      Getting closer!

      There we go! Head is out!

      Spare head I bought for $100. Perfect for what I'm looking to do on it

      SSV1's with 2.5" V-Bands and FMU Custom 3" Midpipe Sold!

      Then I bought the same exact headers 24 hours later

      ID of primaries

      Tornado hit my garage

      3.5" Single Pipe that I will using as part of my new setup along with the SSV1 S-Pipe

      Some A6's Zimamotorsport dropped off

      My plan with the head was to have a valve job done with new seals, resurface/deck, and then machine the exhaust ports using specs abad46 found from World Challenge.

      According to World Challenge, the exhaust runners in head may be machined into 41.5mm circle centered on OEM exhaust port. Exhaust runner divider may be machined a max of 25.4mm from head face, and shall be a min of 2.5mm thick. More info can be found here

      As much as we were interested in doing this, it turned into more than we thought. We tested it on the spare head I bought which was perfect.

      Back from the machine shop.

      As you can see, with these specs, it would require a full P&P, something I didn't really have the funds to do so. Sure I could have left it as is, but who knows what effect the non-rounded edges would have. It's a good thing we tested on the spare head. Sort of bummed, but can't do everything sometimes

      So I told the machine shop to assemble my head without doing any of that work.

      Real head back in my possession! Looks awesome

      At least they are clean now!

      New head gasket, head bolts, header gaskets, pre-cat O2's, and VANOS bolts

      Cleaning up the block a bit.

      Headgasket on with copper gasket spray to fill any imperfections!

      Head back on! Also new injectors and fuel rails in!

      Cleaned up the TB's!

      Prepping the headers for install!

      Headers in!

      Intake manifold, and Schrick 288/280's in!

      Another shot of these beauties

      New chain guide, sprockets, chain, hubs, and VANOS unit on!

      Valve adjusment time! Per Schrick, .25mm clearances should be used for both intake and exhaust cams.

      Valve cover back on! New plugs, left the coils for now. Will be replacing though!

      Due to not having an exhaust that fits, and not wanting to start the car with open headers so we could hear the motor, this was our only option….

      A little AutoLogic action to make sure everything is well

      Swapped out the bad coil and no SES's!

      Since the plan was to track the following day, we needed to mock up an exhaust that would be acceptable.

      OE Muffler and SS Res X-Pipe installed. Samo and Alex both coming in clutch with supplying necessary hardware from their dealerships

      And then we cut the flanges off an OE Section 1 at 1 A.M. outside my house with a sawzaw. Neighbors loved that! And made this… contraption using Autozone 2.5" band clamps

      A little visit to Mexico Muffler the next morning...

      They were scared to put the car on the lift, so I basically did everything

      And here we are. Stepped up the OE Section 1 as much as they could. $30 not bad! Still leaks but ehh, only temporary. It gets the job done.

      Garage finally cleaned up swapping to PFC's and adjusting dampening!


      Before Dyno. Mods in Video.

      After Dyno (to be continued...) Mods in Video

      Okay so after around 12 hours of tuning and over 60 pulls on the dyno, here is our progress so far.

      First off I would like to thank Sal from Evolve and how thankful we all are to be working with someone like him. With his driving compassion, patience, and perseverance, myself and others just can not thank him enough. Staying up until 3 A.M UK time twice to dyno tune, with all of our crazy schedules to get this nailed down! Okay on to what we have done so far.

      All graphs in SAE, and 8200 RPM redline. Tune was calibrated with the valve closed to get the best AFR reading possible, also to not blow our eardrums... Also I am retaining the MAF, not running AlphaN, no CSL CF airbox, no bored TB's, and no headwork. Even though all of those will come in time

      Closed Valved Comparison:
      007 - Pre Cams
      003 - Post Cams
      021 - Post Cams + Tune

      Closed Valved Comparsion 2:
      007 - Pre Cams
      021 - Post Cams + Tune

      Open Valve Comparison:
      005 - Pre Cams
      005 - Post Cams
      023 - Post Cams + Tune

      Open Valve Comparison 2:
      005 - Pre Cams
      023 - Post Cams + Tune

      Closed vs Opened Comparison:
      021 - Closed
      023 - Open

      As you can see here, I am making some very good power. Both area under the curve, and peak numbers. Low end well, is hard to compare. With big cams, people assume you will lose low end power. Its hard to discern considering I switched my exhaust setup drastically, but the low clearly exists! The mid range, well you can see there is slight loss, but only 5-7whp/wtq, which is barely noticeable on the street. WOT going through the gears, every upshift drops down to 6500 RPM, so the dip is outside of the upshift range WOT. Top end, well NUTS!

      Drivability, just awesome on the street. Idle is perfect, part throttle mapping is spot on, partial to full throttle transition is smooth, and the delivery is just NUTS! We haven't even really worked much on these maps yet and it can only get better from here!

      During the last dyno session, I hit the flash counter, so we had to postpone the rest of the tuning, which worked out actually. I am experiencing an odd fueling issue, which is heavily affecting the AFR making it rich, losing power, especially in the midrange, why there is a loss currently.

      Ruling out the fuel pump, injectors, vacuum leaks, etc, I am left with the fuel pressure regulator. We have reason to believe that it is stuck open and just dumping too much fuel. So I will be replacing that, reseting the flash counter, and strapping down on the dyno hopefully this week if all works well. Due to this issue, Sal felt safe to be relatively conservative while tuning, especially with the ignition and VANOS maps. So there IS more left on the table, we just don't know exactly how much with my limiting intake components. Only time will tell!

      This article was originally published in forum thread: E46 M4 S54 build with 288/280 Schrick cams and cylinder head rebuild started by Sticky View original post
      Comments 31 Comments
      1. Twinturbom3's Avatar
        Twinturbom3 -

        Just as a safety add a set of valve springs.
      1. alex@ABRhouston's Avatar
        alex@ABRhouston -
        man, port and polish is the only way to go, shoulda done it while it was off (or sent the new head off so you didnt have to wait)

        it picks up SO MUCH when a competent guy does your porting/flowing.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by flipm3 Click here to enlarge
        We'll be finding out hopefully soon!These are Schrick 288/280 Standard Lift cams. They are the "middle grade" cams that can still retain the VANOS. There are several more aggressive specifications than this. These cams were chosen due to their ability to still retain low-end power/torque all the while being a top end screamer.
        That's what I figured and it makes complete sense to me. Looks to be a great choice.
      1. 600whp S4's Avatar
        600whp S4 -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by alex@ABRhouston Click here to enlarge
        man, port and polish is the only way to go, shoulda done it while it was off (or sent the new head off so you didnt have to wait)

        it picks up SO MUCH when a competent guy does your porting/flowing.
        I thought s54 head is pretty maxed out?
      1. Flinchy's Avatar
        Flinchy -
        man it's stuff like this that REALLY make me want an E46M Click here to enlarge
      1. Flinchy's Avatar
        Flinchy -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by 600whp S4 Click here to enlarge
        I thought s54 head is pretty maxed out?
        i've seen builds where they've done headwork and gotten a fair bit more flow.. larger valves can be had no?

        can't see why it'd be maxed out, especially on bigger cams Click here to enlarge
      1. inlineS54B32's Avatar
        inlineS54B32 -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        Now if someone would just build an S65 for max NA hp already.
        I was thinking the same thing... VAC, you listening??! Click here to enlarge

        I guess it's all a matter of time - took a long time for the S54 to really start showing on forums like this. Impressive power for NA as stock, insane power when tuned.
      1. alex@ABRhouston's Avatar
        alex@ABRhouston -
        You can make ANY manufacturer's factory head flow better with a good port/polish-
        you can REALLY make gains when you add bigger valves/custom cuts on the seats and other fun go-fast stuff Click here to enlarge
      1. S62R's Avatar
        S62R -
        There is quite some power extracted from a good porting job on the S54.

        Sticky,just send me a S65 over and you get it back as n/a monster..Click here to enlarge
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by 600whp S4 Click here to enlarge
        I thought s54 head is pretty maxed out?
        It's very, very good but it's not maxed out.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by S62R Click here to enlarge
        Sticky,just send me a S65 over and you get it back as n/a monster.
        It's tempting. Maybe I'll have someone play with my heads to see what else I could get out of them.