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BMW build adventure: E34 into a Hot Rod

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BMW build adventure: E34 into a Hot Rod

Old 10-17-2018, 08:00 AM
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BMW build adventure: E34 into a Hot Rod

Wanted to share a few pics & stories of my BMW projects: The year is 2014, I recently sold my daily driver hot rod truck and was looking for a new build/driver. Searched craigslist for "V8 manual" and came across a listing for a 1995 BMW 540i V8 & 6spd manual that was in my budget. The snag, it wasn't currently running. Went to go check it out, and this little mid 90's boxy black sedan really caught my attention. Not having any previous BMW experience nor am I a gambling man, I bought it and towed it home:

It took me some time but eventually solved the no-start condition, someone who previously worked on the vehicle removed and reinstalled the harmonic damper clocked incorrectly. The car uses the damper to trigger the crank sensor so the computer was trying to fire the engine way out of time.

Once running the car had oil leaks, vacuum leaks, coolant leaks, exhaust leaks. But eventually I got the car to a nice a little driver:

What do you do with a 20 year old car that runs well enough to be a driver. You gut it, clean it up, throw some go-fast parts at it and try to make it something it's not...logically:

One of my particular automotive interests is computer tuning. I have experience tuning OBDII flashable GM PCMS (SIlverados, Camaro's, GTO's, Vettes) but have not experimented with OBD1 nor Bosch Motronic.

Dug the chip out of the the Bosch Motronic M3.3 DME, read the chip and began exploring the 64kb tuning file that runs the vehicle...not having a clue a where to start with no previous code experience:

Luckily for me we live in the information age. It took a couple of years of research but eventually I was able to read the hex code and pull apart function and operation tables. Out of 140 some odd maps in the hex code I was able to identify and label 60 of them.

With the car running good and playing around with tuning to find this drivetrains sweet spot I decided to it was time to get my modified daily driver to the track for some fun. I'd seen online that the Roadkill Zip-Tie drags were coming to Tucson Az, so I registered the car for the event. When the time came for the event I loaded up everything and drug myself & the car to Tucson Az (4hr drive from where I live) and then spent the next two days in the staging lanes making a few passes down the drag strip:

The car did "Alright" it wasn't fast by any stretch of the imagination, but I had tons of fun at the event and met some great people. Once I got home I was determined, the car has to be faster. I had decided the Bosch Motronic fuel injection still had too many unknown and unidentified tables & maps to be a fully tunable system. So I started looking around for a standalone EFI system. I stumbled upon an open source DIY efi system called Speeduino that uses an Arduino Mega controller. I thought the idea was neat, I liked it's a heavily community based system for growth and the parts & pieces are budget friendly.

So I gave it a shot, ordered a pre-populated speeduino board and the misc bits to make it work. Since Speeduino has 4 injector outputs and 4 ignition driver outs the system runs in waste spark and semi-batch fire injection. I took the opportunity to remove the coil on plug ignition and install a full MSD ignition with two 4cyl waste spark coils, MSD DIS-4 ignition box and MSD wires.

Then grafted the Speeduino to the vehicles engine wiring harness:

Here's a short video of the first fire up and test drive with the Speeduino running the BMW M60B40 V8:

With the engine now running on a different fueling algorithm (Speed Density instead of MAF), and the system is capable of managing up to 21psi of boost with it's built in MAP sensor the gears began turning in my head. This M60 is old, & tired it's time to update the vehicles heart.

Started with an M62b44 short block, 4.4L V8:

Picked up a junkyard take out M60 to donate it's heads, cams, timing covers & misc headware:

By my measurements the M62 has a =.025" above deck piston height with a dished crown, measured roughly 4cc in piston tops:

The M60 cylinder heads back from machine shop:

Measured roughly 52cc of volume in chambers:

The readily available MLS head gasket I can find comes in a 1.74mm compressed thickness, making the engines static compression roughly 9.6:1

The belt driven intake manifold is an Eaton M112 from a Jaguar, sitting on adapters to bolt down to the BMW heads. Using the Jag intercoolers and injection manifolds.

Dialing in cam timing:

Using the aftermarket timing blocks meant to align the BMW cams while engine is at TDC cyl#1 I got:

@.1mm lift:
Intake opens 12 BTDC / Intake closes 48 ABDC
Exhaust opens 48 ABDC / Exhaust closes 12 ATDC

240/240 duration -108 intake centerline / 108 lobe separation

@1mm lift:
Intake opens 2 ATDC / Intake closes 33 ABDC
Exhaust opens 33 BBDC / Exhaust closes 7 BTDC

211/206 Duration - 107.5 Intake centerline / 108.75 lobe separation

I proceeded to set cam timings in for a 110 ICL and a 112 LSA, slightly dialing back the dynamic compression and help keep the boosted intake charge in the cylinder by reducing overlap.

Of course, what frankenstein supercharged v8 wouldn't be complete without nitrous:

... part way through putting this engine together I decided to take a left at Albuquerque and go a completely different direction. I was looking at my old E34, it's old & used and abused. The paint is torched by the Az sun, there isn't a straight body panel left on the car. Rust is starting to claim corners of body panels. The car is super heavy, it needs a ton of expensive suspension work & parts. And after everything is said & done it'll still be a boxy 90's sedan. In my time owning, building & driving the car I really have a love for the V8 design but was never completely in love with the car itself.

So I decided to build an entirely different car around the engine. To build a car I've wanted since I was a kid, the unassailable Hot Rod. a 1920's inspired T-bucket. So I came up with a loose plan, an idea of what the car was going to look like and started digging through hot rods catalogs.

Started with a T bucket body & '32 ford grill:

Picked up a rear end, mid 70's jaguar independant rear:

"Borrowed" the 6spd manual trans from the E34:

American Racing NV502 15"x10" rear hweels with M&H 30"x14.5" (12" tread) cheater slicks:

Matching American Racing 15"x5" front wheels with 155/80 firestone tires

T-bucket frame: are now currently caught up to my progress on the project. The next part of the build will be to move forward to rear diff and tuck it in the frame to lowered the rear ride height and closethe gap between the rear wheel & body. Then on to mounting the drivetrain in the frame.

Thanks for checking out my build, I'll update as progress is made. Cheers.
Old 10-28-2018, 07:12 AM
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Old 10-28-2018, 04:12 PM
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Wow, stumbled upon this great thread. Your skills are massive and I envy you very much. I also have a E34 540i/6, but I had the engine replaced with a M62 with JE pistons, Arrow rods, S62 crankshaft, aggressive cams and 900 rwhp Borg-Warner turbo system. Wish you would have kept the E34 body, but I understand. Good luck!
Old 11-28-2018, 07:17 AM
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Old 12-20-2018, 03:56 PM
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