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Discussion Starter #1
20060131 GOAL: :1zhelp: turn my 540it into an m5 touring. hmmm :lightbulb:

SHORT STORY: :biggrinbounce: thinking seriously of the vf engineering stage 1 s/c for my e39.

thoughts, comments, pics, feedback & opinions wanted! I understand that I can get answers from the vendors, but I would like to hear responses from actual people who’ve done it and enthusiasts. cherrsagai

Emotionally, pretty hard to resist, as cheap as I am (talking to jeff at vf yesterday, along with simon at evosport already gave me a nice sense of confidence and reliability between the 2 of them). Financially, it’s not an issue, though I like getting my money’s worth. Intellectually, $6k + labor for even the stage 1 (going from 290 hp to 415 hp!!!) is a good return on my (discretionary, after tax and non-deductible) money. Practically – that’s the rub – I don’t want to turn a reliable and decently-powered wagon into a time-consuming project that spends more time on the rack, or have to think that I cannot jump into it and haul my wife & 3 girls for a 2-3 hr drive anywhere, bec my fancy toy might be too fragile. My main issue then becomes: with the s/c, does it significantly affect the day to day reliability of the car?

CONCERNS: I’m very good with numbers (private practice financial advisor) but an absolute newbie, zzzzz clumsy with anything mechanical. I’ve never modified any of my cars beyond the upgraded rims & tires.

CAR INFO: :2: 2003 540it (yes, touring), auto, 27k miles, m-sport package. 4y/50k original warranty up 10/06. while I do NOT plan to buy the ext warr, I will buy the service maint extension to 6y/100k miles
Current mod: 19” acs type 2 (8.5 f, 9.5 r)

HOW I INTEND TO USE THIS 415HP :M5rev: SLEEPER: pretty much like my e46 m3. I won’t be at the track (imho, best $ is to pay bmw $1000 when they come to socal and thrash THEIR m5 for 1 whole day with an instructor beside me!); I won’t be racing from stoplight to stoplight. I generally drive no faster than 80 – 85 mph on the freeways, but it is so much fun to go from 20 to 80 really fast, or to just drive at 75 mph in 3rd gear at the higher revs, listening to the exhaust and engine and nailing the throttle to give myself a little back slamming massage. And it is kinda nice to know that it can dust almost everything on the road. lovelove

REALITY CHECK, AFTER A WEEK OF OWNING IT: :cool2: coming from an m3 with 333 hp, 262 tq and about 3500 lbs, to this 540 with 290 hp, 324 tq and about 4100 lbs, I probably miss the raw and more savage feel of the m, not to say the 540 has no power, bec it does – it’s just delivered a lot smoothly. I also miss the exhaust note of the m3, the either loved or dreaded rasp. The v8 note, although subdued, actually sounds good. I can only imagine it sounding even better. What would be a good exhaust, that can be relatively quiet when left to shift at normal driving, around 3500 rpms, and yet sound mean and deep redlining it with the steptronic to 6k rpm? (simon at evosport suggested the eisenmann sport, although he mentioned most pple go for the louder race. Supersprint was what eric at spp suggested, but evosport mentioned having quality issues with them recently.) chime in!

(side note: while searching online, I found out that on the average yr from 97 to 03, about 14k 525i sedans were sold, 1100 525it sold, 16k 530i sedan sold, 5k 540i sedan, and 300 or so 540it. In 2003, only 221 540it sold. Had some “educated” guesses – maybe at most 1 out of 5 were the sport. So that puts the m-sport 540it at about 40-50 ever sold! So depending on who I talk to, my car is either something most people don’t even want, or highly desirable and rare.) hmmm

I’ve accepted the auto tranny limitation on the 540it – all came with it. I would favor the least obtrusive mods. If I were a diver, I’d prefer the “bolt on” scuba tank and head gear, versus cutting me up to rip my lungs out and transplant some gills into me. it’d be nice if the mods voided the least amount of factory warranties/services.

Spoke with the fleet mgr from whom I’ve purchased my 02 m3 and 03 x5 4.4, and he really does NOT think the e61 m5 touring will make it to the us. (Case in point – he believes bmw has learned their expensive lesson of selling wagons in the us. E60 525i are sold out in socal, they’re getting 1k off msrp, and the 530it are going for 1k over invoice,and this is in price-gouge orange county!)

WHAT ARE THE NECESSARY MODS THAT MUST GO WITH THIS KIND OF UPGRADE? :1zhelp: :1zhelp:

BOTTOMLINE: I ask myself if I’m happy with the way it is. YES. If I can spend $10k-15k to turn this into a beast, would I do it? YES. If it goes from low maint to high strung and temperamental would I do it? NO.

Thanks for reading. Love to hear from you all. Any of you with the vf in socal (I’m in chino hills) who wouldn’t mind giving me a ride :1: would be greatly appreciated. I’ll buy a cup of coffee. :cheers:

jack
 

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Nice car!

Well, it seems as if the bug has bit, so not much use trying to talk you out of it. Not that I would; sounds great and it's not on my dime!

I, too, would worry about the long-term reliability as I value NOT traveling to the dealer/repair shop.

There is a guy (propellerhead) supercharging his 540 6-speed on bimmerfest.com. You might PM him regarding his perspective.

My understanding is that we will (and I hope we do!) get the E61 M5 touring in this country, so if you've patience and cash, that would be the obvious answer...

Good luck!
 

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Wow! Small world! We also have a Silver 2003 540iT ///M sport and live in SoCal!! The numbers I saw indicated that exactly 69 540iT's were imported into the US during the 2003 model year! It's a fantastic grocery getter, as im sure you will agree!


Ours was an ex-ultimate drive car. Interesting thread regarding our wagon.

We are also in the process of an M5 touring conversion. We already did quad exhausts (using an M5 resonator, so we have a true dual exhaust system now), rounded M5 mirrors, and we will soon be installing M5 fender liners and rolling the fenders so we can run OEM M5 wheels. Wagon already has 16X9 NAV and all the ///M stuff all over the interior. Other than the automatic tranny shifter, the interior is identical to an M5. :biggrinbounce:

I am really hesitant to install an SC on this car, although the thought of doing so remains intriguing. The wagon can already beat most any "normal" non high-performance car to the stoplight, the next lane, or onto the freeway, and this is with kids and the groceries in tow! That being said, I would still be very interested in getting long-term feedback from any supercharged 540 owners out there. :M5rev:

Jack: I can send pics when the project is done if you want...especially the exhaust system if you are interested. Let me know what you find out on your SC research.

Cheers!

Marc
 

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Discussion Starter #6
my twin!

wow - awesome. where r u in socal?

here's the link to my wagon. it's been a great 2 wks for me.
http://www.m5board.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=66358

as to the quad exhaust - from what i've seen, seems like there has to be some serious mods to lift the spare tire wheel well. did you have to do that?

i'm pretty close to maybe pulling the trigger on the eisie sport (not race). heard a few clips tonite, another kind 540i owner in irvine has taken me up on my req to listen to it. the growl sounds fantastic, just right to complement the looks. (my wife told a friend a few nites ago that the m3 was gone, and had been replaced by a sleeper wagon. after seeing the pics, he thought it looked too mean to be a sleeper :)

the vf s/c is another matter. seems like other mods willl come into play with that. i am actually going to make a mini-project out of physically visiting some of the owners of the 540 with the vf s/c. i'm where u r - intrigued with 415 hp, hesitant about messing with the engine.

i've sent out about 4 emails to guys on diff boards, and 1 already responded, and i hope to see him in la jolla in a few wks. i'll also try to get the owner of vf...

do send the pics.
 

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I think it's a great project. I absolutely love the thought of an M5 Touring. My friend was one of the first people (if not the first) to run the VF kit on his E46 328i.

Another option to supercharging......

http://www.m5board.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=64429

S62 engine swap. NOW THAT WOULD BE COOL!!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
gobuffs said:
SC 540 does not = M5
of course not. :biggrinbounce:

but you know what they say - if i aim for perfection, i might just land somewhere near excellent!

or, just a thought, stage 2 at 475-500 hp with tq in the 360-390 lb-ft territory. nope, not an e39 m5. not an e60 m5... it'll be good enough and close enough for me. and my smile will be rather permanently plastered on my face. :thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter #10
it did cross my mind-s62 transplant. in my limited and uneduacted perception, it ouwld be a more invasive procedure, rather than say, a reliable s/c which can be reversed.

now if both options run me about $15k (just wild guess), or assuming the costs are very similar, which would be more reliable and require less tinkering with the rest of the car?? hmmm
 

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aw/ir02smg, I have a 1998 540iA that will be getting a vf supercharger.

I have a 1995 e36 M3 with a Dinan supercharger. My M3 has been supercharged for over 100k miles with few issues. I'm confident that the e39 540 will be just as good.

My mechanic is currently talking with vf and trying to get a deal by purchasing 4 or more superchargers from them. I live in SoCal as well, but in the San Diego area.

I too looked at getting an M5, but for me it made more sense to get a 540. Why you ask? My commute has increased significantly and demands and automatic. I love sticks, my M3 is a stick, but on a day with over an hour stop and go traffic the stick drives me nuts. Also, I wanted to replace the suspension, brakes, rims and tires of the M5, and I just couldn't bare to do that to an M5. I was removing the things that make an M5 and M5. Except for the engine of course.

In the final analysis, the need for an automatic and 475hp for under $35k drove me to the 540.
 

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Great project...

I'd love to pick up a 540iT sport and mod it. Just don't put an ///M badge on it... :)
 

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I bought a 540i and heavily modded it almost be an M5. I too have toyed with the idea of SC my 540i. In my research (BTW I have a 6 speed MT), you should calculate that you want larger calipers, rotors, possible tranny reinforcement. If it was a manual, you would also want a bigger clutch and light weight flywheel. The ECU would be remapped. Possible suspension upgrades (bigger anti-sway bars and strut tower brace).

I looked at AA, ESS, VF and Dinan. The long and the short is that the Dinan has been around the longest and is the most reliable, but it costs $$$$$$ to have. ESS is in Sweden and have goofed with remapping the ECU. It is a pain to keep sending your ECU back and forth to Sweden.

There is a guy on beastpower.com that has a twin SC from VF on his 540. His name is Kvista. Look him up to see his car. He lives in Sweden and also has a crazy modified beast too.

This is such a cool project. It will be a sleeper for sure. Good luck with everything.
 

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I guess a few similar threads are floating around, may have posted originally in the wrong one.

Nice looking wagon. Wow, I am surprised by the low production/sales numbers, sounds pretty exclusive.

Have you looked under the For Sale Section? There is an S62 M5 engine+tranny to be had for $6,500... Hint hint :2:

A few folks may recall, for a long while there was a (burgundy) red M5 'retrofitted' wagon on Ebay that had all the true M-goodies (engine, tranny, suspension, interior, exterior), and was relisted many times but never sold, despite a reduced reserve. Looked really sweat but no takers at all...
 

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Discussion Starter #15
SteveHI said:
Just don't put an ///M badge on it... :)
don't worry. of course i'd never do that. de-badge, maybe. but then again, what is this i see on 4 door sills??? steering wheel, dead pedal, etc...



so if bmw deems it proper to have the m badge???

:thumbsup: no - i'll never put the "///m5" on it. but just the "///m" badge is very inviting. BUT when all is said and done, it'lll be more fun just to leave the "540i" on. gives it the blue-ringed octopus effect. as my daughter tells me, it's really cute. bright yellow with blue rings, small at 3 inches or so across, and victims die in a few minutes without ever knowing what happened. ouich
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Richthofen said:
I have a 1998 540iA that will be getting a vf supercharger.
please keep me posted on your developments. how many miles on the 540? if you have a 98, even with lo miles you must have at least 70k-80k miles, and still feel confident?

but no kidding- stage 2 at 475hp and about the same on tq is insane.hmmm lovelove

(just spoke with jeff at vf this pm- was hoping to get a ride in their 540i. but the s/c has been taken off, and is being sold. they're done with all r&d on it. :sad2: they just got a new 545i to work on :) )
 

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My car has 106k on it and I'm still confident. I have a great indy BMW mechanic who also builds racing engines. He put a 1000hp twin turbo BMW v12 in a sand rail, and also builds LS1, LS2, LS5, LS6 racing engines. If the engine dies I'll just rebuild it with better parts. 1998s had a single Vanos and seem to be more reliable. Plus, parts for the 540 are much less expensive then M5 parts.

I'm always secretly hoping my engine will die so I can justify putting some money into the internals.

My mechanic is also a ZF dealer/specialist. So same goes for the transmission.

I wouldn't be trying this if I didn't have a good, trusted mechanic. It's not for the faint of heart.

Best part about the stage 2 is that they use a water/air intercooler. So the hp will stay stable even after the engine compartment has heated up, unlike most non-intercooled FI applications.
 

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You can buy a used M5 2000-2001 in germany for about $18k, strip it for ALL, I mean ALL parts (like locusts have been at it) and put the parts in a container,and ship that back to the states. NO imporations problems it's just parts!

buy a MINT 525IT. used. about $16-18k.

Swap all parts from the M.

Sell all original 525 parts.

Total cost, not including labour for having an actuall..full 'honest to betsy' M touring? about $10-15k.
 

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Not So Hard to Do

The quad exhaust is really much easier (and less expensive) than you may think. We did have to use a hydraulic shop jack and block of wood to gently press up on part of the right hand side of the spare tire well where the new RH exhaust tube would run. We can still keep the spare tire in there no problem. Not that hard.

Rather than going with aftermarket cans, we simply bought some nice quad tips, the M5 lower rear bumper cover insert (a direct fit), and our old stock M5 resonator to our local independent hot rod shop. About $250 later, we had a real fantastic sounding dual exhaust system. Quiet at idle, but a nice deep aggressive growl when you get on the gas. Here are some shots:

 

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