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809 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Greetings. I am new to these forums and would like to introduce myself. Pardon my English, there I live in Belgium and English is not my mother tongue. I used to work as a mechanic and have good knowledge about cars and engines, although I still want to learn more about stuff like rebuilding engines and stuff like that.
If you want to pass the introduction and skip straight to the vehicle, just scroll down.

I have owned several cars. Opel (Vauxhall in UK I think) Astra F 1.6 16v, E36 320i, E32 730i (which I still have), E34 520i (sold at 360 000km), ... The last car I owned was a E46 320d 136hp. It took me where I needed to go and never let me down. It was a very decent car, but I wanted something more fancy and faster, so I started searching for a E46 320Ci or E34 with big engine.
The problem with Belgium is that we have probably the highest road-tax on a worldwide scale. Anything with an engine bigger than a 2 liter and you pay a lot of taxes. Anything with an engine bigger than a 2.5 liter means that once a year you pay taxes for your car that are about the same as your monthly salary.
It had to be a petrol-engine with LPG. Because I love petrol and hate diesel, but didn't want to pay the rediculously high prices for gas. LPG here is around 40-50 cent per liter. After a lot of searching on German websites, since Belgium is a diesel-only country, I found a E46 320Ci, 2003, with 208 000km on it. It was only a fraction across the border and a 2 hour drive from where I live.
Once arrived, I thought "omfg, what is this ****?" The vendor was not a private but "professional" vendor. My problem with these vendors in general is that they
1. Don't know **** about cars in general
2. Buy and sell cars based on numbers (mileage, age, ...) but don't have a clue about the technical history of these cars
3. Are rude
4. Rip you off while you are standing besides them
5. Argue about the price while they don't even know what they are talking about. Sorry gentlemen, but don't tell me that you know what you're talking about when you can't even seperate the head gasket frmo the valvehead gasket.
And guess what: all of above were applicable.

Normally I would have turned back instantly, but because of the long drive I thought about giving it a shot. A closer look told me that this car came from a wannabe-*****. Worn Alpina logo on the hood, maintanance-interval on the dash was 40 000km overdue, valve head gasket was leaking, front bushings were shot. And I mean truly shot, as if they were gone 40 000km ago. When the vendor told me the car was in ultimate good shape, but reacted as if it was the first he heard of when I pointed out the defects, I instantly knew the guy had no clue what he was talking about.
But I had to say the engine ran smooth, the suspension (besides the bushings) felt okay, and the body work looked good. No deep scratches.
I still wanted to take the car, probably because of the fact that I fell in love with how it looked. I placed a bid lower than his price because of all the work that needed to be done. He instantly fell into laughter because my price was "too low". I repeated and said that's the offer, take it or leave it. Eventually he agreed and I drove it home.

When I bought it, the car had the following OEM specs

- M-bodykit
- sport suspension
- Style 68 rims
- Park assistance
- Automatic A/C
- Sport steering wheel
- Xenon
- Cruise control
- ...

- BRC LPG system
- H&R Race springs

The first thing I did was a full maintenance. Oil change, all filters and spark plugs. I also changed the front bushings (which later on were switched to powerflex), and the front wishbones. The wishbones were not worn yet, but since the car had 208 000km, I figured they wouldn't last another 50k, so I did it along with the bushings.

What I fixed/changed so far
- Bilstein B12 pro-kit (with new mounts in the front and strongflex 90A mounts in the rear)
- Powerflex 80A front bushings
- Front control arms TRW
- Steering rack TRW (old one had some play since I took it for a day of drifting on track) + outer steering ball joints
- Front belt & pulley
- Front brake discs & pads (ATE)
- Fixed HCV (heater blew hot air only. Somehow a piece of plastic got into the cooling circuit and got stuck in the HCV valve so it wouldn't close anymore)

The engine is very healthy and consumes only 1 liter of oil every 7000 km (= around 4500 miles I think)

Future mods
- Retrofit HK audio
- M54B30?


117 Posts
What a nice looking car! I have an Orient Blue coupe as well. How many miles/kilometers do you have on the car? I want to do my shocks and and struts too. It sounds like you have a nice driving e46 now. Don't forget to overhaul the cooling system.

1,193 Posts
Nice car and great colour. I am also planning to buy E46 coupe from Germany. It is not so easy from Finland.
Facelift M-Sport 2 coupe is so great looking. Keep updates coming.

809 Posts
Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Hi. Thanks for the replies :)
The car has slightly over 230 000km (= +- 145 000 miles I think). The coolant system ... I haven't done anything to it yet, besides putting in new coolant after a small flush. Like I said before, the car was poorly maintained and offcourse they used red coolant instead of blue (or green in USA).

I am looking into an engine swap, M54B30, and looking for a total loss 330Ci to get my hands on these parts :)

809 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Ladies and gentlemen. There is a chance I can get my hands on a 330Ci with the M54B30 engine, which I want to swap to my car. I didn't buy a 330Ci because the road taxes in my country are rediculously high, so therefore I rather swap an engine, which will cost as much as 1 years of taxes in our wonderful country ...

I was thinking of replacing some parts before swapping the engine, so I don't have to do the labour later and do it now while the engine is already out.
- New piston rings
- New crank bearing caps
- Test crank for micro-tears/shreds (don't know the exact English word)

What am I forgetting? Are there things I should keep in mind. That being said, the car I am pulling the engine from is an automatic, and I will be using a gearbox ZF 320Z. Should this be a problem, or are these engines 100% identical, regardless if they came with auto or manual?

Advice will be appreciated :)

1,193 Posts
Vanos seals, replace all vacuum pipes, CCV + hoses, waterpump, thermosthat, oil filter housing gasket, Disa repair kit..
Belts, tensioners+pulleys, alternator?
That usual M54 stuff which you have to replace..

809 Posts
Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)

Complete list of adjustments/mods/repairs so far:

- M54B30 swap (completely rebuilt engine)
- H&R sways
- welded in RACP reinforcement plates + additional welding in the trunk area (did this as a precaution, as there were no cracks from the bottom and no broken welds in the trunk)
- 330i RTA's + axles
- M3 RTAB's with limiters
- Strongflex 80A subframe mounts
- All other rear suspension and diff bushings replaced
- Z4M FCAB's
- 330i brakes front & rear
- yellow tag steering rack
- H&R sway bars
- Bilstein B12 (with Eibach pro-kit springs)
- Michelin PS4 tires
- Alpina B3 exhaust (complete line + headers)
- 330i shifter
- shifter linkage bushings

- aftermarket amp
- HK speakers retrofit

To do:
- rebuild ZF S5D 320Z gearbox
- find 3.07 or 3.15 diff and 328i driveshaft (maybe LSD diff? As open diff sucks ass)

- Schmiedmann headers
- ZHP shift knob
- better brake pads (maybe gonna track the car a few times)

Pics will follow in the near future!
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