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My $5k challenge. Project Ares 1995 BMW 540i/6

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  • My $5k challenge. Project Ares 1995 BMW 540i/6

    Heya, here's my project car. Found on Craigslist in Phoenix Az. A used and abused, wore the hell out E34 540i 4.0L V8 & 6spd manual. Picked up for cheap, non-running of course.

    Once the problem was discovered as to why it wouldn't start (Harmonic damper/crank trigger was installed clocked incorrectly) I then spent the next couple months resolving everything else, exhaust leaks, coolant leaks, oil leaks, fuel leaks.....Once every loose nut & bolt I could find was torqued I spent next year driving and modding along the way. The 18" BMW ///M wheels are super chrome pitted and instead of running them on the vehicle I turned them into a coffee table.

    These chrome 16"s came off a junk BMW that found it's through my shop. Freebies:

    Eventually the clutch started to slip, the engagement was at the end of the pedal travel ever since I got it running. So I did what any other gearhead would do when it came time for a clutch change. Pulled the drivetrain and changed/modded everything.

    Dialed in the cam timing, in OE trim the cam specs are a 246/241 duration on a 109 ICL and a 108 LSA. Since camshafts for this engine cost triple what I paid for the car I instead just shifted the ICL and LSA. After much number crunching I opt'd on a 106 ICL & 106 LSA.

    If they didn't want us to play with cam timing the OE cam gears wouldn't be adjustable....right? :-)

    Next, the clean-up, degrease, wire wheel, pressure wash and repaint. In automotive college we called this a "Duplicolor Rebuild"

    Removed and discarded the OE dual mass heavy flywheel for a single lightweight piece.

    Then a Spec "Stage II" Pressure plate and Kevlar unsprung disc (What was I thinking).

    Clean, de-grease and repaint the engine bay and frame. New steering linkage.

    Replacement steering gearbox...Yes, gearbox, in a BMW....Converted to manual steering, 'cause the kevlar clutch wasn't punishment enough. Removed ABS, installed manual brake bias valve.

    Get the drivetrain back home:

    New control arms, bushings and lowered the front coils.

    New set of pipes. I decided to get away from the dual small pipe exhaust and run a single 3" exhaust with a Vibrant brand Ultra Quiet resonator mid way and a Flowmaster Super 40 at the end.

    For computer tuning I'm using the original Bosch Motronic M3.3 system, converted to a non-security version of the ECU. There is a flashable Moates Ostrich 2.0 28 pin chip emulator installed in the Eprom socket. Tuning of the binary file via TunerProRT software. The definition file that's floating around online for this application is rather rough and incomplete so I have been building my own from scratch.

    Once I am happy with the tune I intend to convert the mass air flow sensor over to the MAFT-Pro unit that uses MAP sensor, TPS, RPM and wideband O2 for fueling control.

    Next on my to-do list is to tackle the rear end. It's a 2.91:1 rear gear, and because of the bigger v8 it has a large ring gear with not many options. As an experiment I'm hoping to pick up an E46 M3 differential with a 3.62:1 gear and limited slip. Then see if I can't get the M3 210mm ring gear, pinion and carrier to fit in the E34 210mm differential housing and retain the OE axle & driveshaft flanges....crosses fingers.

    Thanks for checking out my little project car. Cheers -Mykk
    Last edited by Mykk; May 1st, 2017, 06:07 PM.
    Deaf Bob likes this.

  • #2
    Cool project. I like what you did with the headlights there. Was this an M-Sport? So how does it run compared to a like year M5?


    • #3
      Originally posted by hauen View Post
      Cool project. I like what you did with the headlights there. Was this an M-Sport? So how does it run compared to a like year M5?
      This car isn't an M, I wouldn't be able to cut it up and mod it the way I did if it were as the E34 540i/6 M-sports are super rare. But the previous owner did throw a bunch of M badges all over it :-P (I've removed all but the M5 door sills, I kinda like those).

      This has been my only experience with BMW's and I couldn't tell you about an actual M5 other then it's inline 6 makes about 60 more HP then this V8.
      hauen likes this.


      • #4
        Decided to put on a new set of shoes. Currently a work in progress. What started as needing new tires turned into new rims and tires. Inexpensive E39 style 37 replicas in 18" x 9.5" and 18" x 8". Using Ebay suppliers to keep costs down the tires have been circling the globe for a little while now. But, they will be Nankang NS-20 in 265/35-18 & 235/40-18. The "Spinner/Knock Off" center caps are 2004-2009 Mustang, BMW wheel decals and logos are also on order. Spokes painted in duplicolor "graphite" wheel paint.

        Last edited by Mykk; May 1st, 2017, 05:57 PM.
        Deaf Bob likes this.


        • #5
          Still wrenching. Playing. Moving forward with future plans.

          Had a clutch disc seize to the pressure plate:

          Took it racing the weekend after getting the new clutch in:

          I've been wrenching on the next engine for this project, a supercharged M62B44 BMW V8. Really it's a non-vanos late 90's 4.4L short block (next size larger displacement then current engine). Using M60B40 heads and cams which have slightly larger valves and cams then the M62B44 version. Also using the earlier M60B40 double roller riming chain and idler sprocket compared to the M62B44 single chain and plastic U guide that always shatters giving this engine the horrible reputation that it has.

          Jaguar Eaton M112 supercharger and intercoolers/intake manifolds:

          Rough mock up of how it'll sit once assembled:

          I've made the decision to get away from the Bosch Motronic fuel injection system and instead experiment with a complete DIY opensource standalone EFI called Speeduino, an Arduino Mega 2560 based board that uses TunerStudioMS software for tuning (same as megasquirt).

          I've made a plug'n'play type harness by gutting a spare Bosch ECU for this car:

          The Speeduino is capable of controlling 4 injectors and 4 ignition outputs. Meaning to run the V8 it's going to run in semi-batch fire and waste spark ignition by pairing up the cylinders that are 360 degrees apart from each other.

          I'm making the conversion in steps, starting with the ignition system using parts from my spare parts pile from past builds: MSD DIS-4, MSD waste spark coils, MSD wires. Still running Bosch Motronic, with cam sensor unplugged so ecu stays in batch fire & waste spark operations.

          Next will be to install, base tune, then Auto VE tune the Speeduino standalone EFI on the existing naturally aspirated M60B40 V8. In the meantime while finishing the supercharged build.

          ...that's where I am currently. Making progress, slowly.

          Last edited by Mykk; February 11th, 2018, 07:46 AM.


          • #6
            Tally of everything involved?

            $1k for car

            $560 - lightweight flywheel

            $320 - "Racing Kevlar Clutch", then $110 for replacement OE LuK clutch

            $100 - radiator & fans

            $120 - control arms, ball joints, tie rods & steering linkage kit.

            $70 - steering gear

            $60 - 19lb Ford Yellow "Bosch gen III" injectors

            $45 - header wrap

            $110 - Engine & trans mounts

            $900 - Wheels, tires, spacers, center caps.

            $75 - lightweight seat and harness

            $180 - Ostrich chip emulator for tuning

            $30 - Spare donor ECU

            $60 - MAFT Pro piggyback

            $200 - Exhaust

            $400 - BMW E46 M3 3.62:1 ring, pinion & limited slip carrier

            $250 - M62B44 V8 Shortblock

            $390 - complete M60B40 V8 for donor heads, timing set up and misc parts

            $375 - Jaguar Supercharger, Intercoolers/Intake manifolds

            $120 - Jaguar lower intake manifold & fuel injectors

            $1175 - Jaguar supercharger to BMW cylinder heads adapters

            $400 - cylinder head studs (yup)

            $180 - MSD box, coils & wires

            $15 - Arduino Mega 2560

            $188 - Speeduino v04.4 EFI board with VR conditioner

            $40 - project box to house Speeduino

            +$200ish? misc, paints, wires...etc

            ...$7,673... appears I've gone over budget :-P

            If it's any saving grace, it's $4,090 for how the car currently sits and runs before the install of the standalone efi, supercharged replacement engine and M3 differential parts :-P
            Last edited by Mykk; February 10th, 2018, 07:30 AM.


            • #7
              Standalone EFI installed, running and driving and currently tuning. No more MAF!


              • #8
                Jaguar Eaton M112 supercharger, intercoolers/intakemanifolds to BMW V8 cylinder heads adapter:

                Cylinder heads are out getting rebuilt and cleaned up, in the meantime I'm bolting together what I can in anticipation of the engine parts returning.

                Deaf Bob and milner351 like this.


                • #9
                  I LOVE THIS. There are so many interesting engines that have been made from BMW V8's to Jag V12's and on, and on.
                  Some are junk with major design issues and others are underrated with forged internals, great head flow, etc, but saddled with bad electronics and no aftermarket support.
                  Deaf Bob likes this.


                  • #10
                    I hurt something in the rear, I suspected an axle cv joint. Was causing a hell of a vibration under acceleration. Ordered replacement axles. While the axles were out I figured it would be a good time to remove the differential and replace the 2.93:1 open rear with a 3.62:1 ring and pinion with a limited slip carrier. The spiders on the open carrier felt a bit funny and had signs of wearing the teeth together.

                    ...on another note, the cylinder heads are back from the machine shop and I've now got every part needed to finish the supercharged engine build. Super stoked

                    Last edited by Mykk; April 11th, 2018, 10:03 PM.
                    Deaf Bob likes this.


                    • #11

                      Had a parts fitment problem, the intercoolers/manifolds I picked up were from a wrong year & engine and the cylinder spacing doesn't fit the injector manifolds. I've already sourced the correct intercoolers/manifolds and will finish bolting the rest of the engine together in the meantime.


                      • #12
                        Degree'd cams:

                        Using BMW cam timing blocks I've found that it sets cams to 108 ICL & 108 LSA with 211 Int/ 206 Exh durations @ 1mm, I've set them up for a more boost friendly 110 ICL & 112 LSA

                        hauen likes this.


                        • #13


                          • #14
                            Was having some BMW oil canister problems, so I opt'd to go a different route using an old hot rodder dual spin on filter set up:


                            • #15
                              In order to get my little dress up spikes, I installed longer studs out of the cam journals & drilled and tapped each valve cover hold down bolt