"In this Special Series, I document my complete paint & body restoration along with the exterior upgrades to CSL specifications. In collaboration with my long time friends at @exclusivautomotiv, we hope to cast light into the world of custom paint & body.
In this entry, I touch on the completion of the mechanical refit, my modest DIY contributions and the final test fit of carbon panels before the final paint round."
Engine work completed.
The previous entry "The inevitable hiatus is over." touched on the delays we also faced in the S54 engine work, notably a wrong cam delivery - twice! The right intake cam showed up later in June.
It was time to bounce back and give another sustained push in the restoration of the Phoenix with the teams at InnovAuto, ExclusivAutomotiv and RecoveredWorkshop - with a little bit of my own contribution.
Final head work.
The cams were fully fitted with DLC coated rocker arms, the S54 was timed, and valves adjusted along with the final assembly of the bulletproof'ed VANOS.
I touched on this part of the process in depth in the "CAPS OFF" entry.
It wouldn't be an M engine if we didn't chat bearings. The S54's bearings aren't nearly as impacted as the S65/S85, but with the nuances in production years along with 2 decade old recalls, we just wanted to be sure.
We replaced what were Genuine BMW bearings with ACL rod bearings and genuine bolts.
I documented the complete process in the entry "Total Recall". I touch on the intricacies of the S54 rod bearing recalls and rod bolt nuances throughout production.
The bearings looked pretty good for 190,000km!
The engine work took forever - delays in parts and the realities of shop schedules postponed the completion by 5 months, and double the labor time we had anticipated.
The stripped shell was transported from Exclusiv to InnovAuto to get the powertrain fitted back into the chassis. The S54, 420G and the carbon driveshaft were all bolted back - still, a few things were clearly missing.
While waiting to transfer the car over to the shop section, I managed to test fit the Recaro CS and its electrical brackets while the car was in storage.
For as much as we'd like to streamline complete restorations, the reality is shop time is limited and every one else wants their car yesterday. The car sat at Exclusiv' storage until space and time could be free'ed up in mid September.
Alongside the E46, I needed to get work done on the V8 and the V10. Limited budget, limited time, limited resources - such is life.
My modest contributions.
With the Phoenix back in the shop and assigned to its space, I was able to complete some modest DIYs to keep the project moving, content created, and the mind clear of racing thoughts.
I started with fitting the latest Shadowline trim of the CSL airbox. I was reminded of just how complex the installation and fitment of these is - not so much in the mechanical work itself, but the spectrum of parts and little things required to assemble the S54 CSL orchestra.
I documented the entire process in most of its depth in "Do not go gentle" under the CSL airbox Special Series.
With most of the auxiliary parts showcased below, it still doesn't account for the MAP conversion, software remap and new MSS54HP DME that was required. I have curated most, but not all of it here. The DME is still yours to source if needed.
I'll keep repeating that sourcing the airbox is only half of what you need.
Later in September, I finally received the customized KW Clubsports from Europe. I have not yet documented this thoroughly as I haven't been able to drive the car yet - evidently.
In short, this makes use of an old trick: fitting a motorsport level damper with street oriented springs and a few little components to create an extremely compliant, wide spectrum of performance and comfort.
I plan on releasing new entries diving into this later this year - for now, well, here's the kit fully installed.
The KW kit arrived fully assembled already, this was a bolt on affair. Considering all parts had been recently restored, this was easy - right?
Ehm, no - stupid mistakes most often happen when humans are involved. I mistakenly put the driver side damper on the passenger side - and vice versa.
A simple compression / travel test had the reservoir dangerously close to the Supersprint section 2 pipes into the rear section. It was a quick swap and all was great again.
Matching Steering Wheel.
Last but not least, there was a little no-longer-applicable touch in the previous interior restoration that needed to be fixed. The previous M-Technic steering wheel had a yellow sort-of-matching center band and black alcantara.
Both were off spec, evidently - but for different reasons. I touched on the differences in craftmanship, and materials in the entry "10,000 hours".
The latest M-Technic steering wheel was spec'ed with black nappa center band, and grey Genuine MultiLater Alcantara to match the original CSL and CS.
The installation was straight forward, yet removing the steering's airbag is always a PITA. The springs have a mind of their own and considering this is a not-yet-recalled Takata airbag, I pulled the battery just in case :)
Back to the pros for test fitments.
I hadn't broken anything yet - and I wouldn't wait until I did to hand it off to professionals once more. It was now time to tunnel ahead towards the final paint round.
1:1 Carbon Doors.
The work had continued in parallel on the preparation of the E46's 1:1 carbon doors. They had been the initial bottleneck to the continuation of the build, and continued to contribute to the delays in the build.
They required more preparation work than we anticipated to get them up to par with the carbon fender, doors, roof and trunk we replaced.
I documented the entire process in "Ready, set, sand."
In short, the used doors that were obtained to create the mold in Eastern Europe had dings in them. The manufacturer didn't repair the doors before creating the mold.
The darker areas show the previous unevenness in the now-level panel.
This is yet another example of why I test and document these niche products before sourcing them for M owners. The mold has since been corrected and this won't be an issue on future doors manufactured.
This oversight led to further preparation work, even needing bondo on one of the doors - an absolutely maddening affair.
With the doors ready for paint, "We just wanted to be sure." was written to cover the process of test fitment before final paint work. After what had happened, we wanted to be cautious.
I filmed and edited a reel for the driver side test fitment here.
It was relieving to confirm the outside shell aligned perfectly, ala OEM.
CSL Carbon Trunk.
Lastly, we test fitted the CSL carbon trunk from Karbonius. AH! - it was back to meeting proper fitment expectations as with the other carbon panels: the roof, bumper, diffusers and widened fenders all fit ala OEM.
I had previously test fitted the trunk in the driveway, and already knew the exterior fitment was spot on - still, we wanted to be sure.
Every lines aligned - it was a refreshing sight. I have not yet documented the test fitment in this trunk's Special Series. I will get to it later on.
The previously primer'ed original aluminum hood stayed stored. We didn't feel the need to test fit it.
With all carbon panels having been successfully test fitted and ready for paint - it was time for the last major paint session.
Up next: I touch on the painted parts, and we get to work on the upper rear chassis reinforcements.
Just as we thought we were out, the E46 pulled us back into a canyon.