The other day we were asked, is our list of Best Mods for N54 motors a list in order of what mods you should do? The answer to that question was no, and so we thought we’d talk about what order to do N54 Mods to get the most bang for your buck. The brand doesn’t really matter as long as you’re covering that ‘class/type’ of upgrade – or to put it another way, it doesn’t matter what brand your intercooler is as long as you -have- an upgraded intercooler, if that makes sense. There are some other options out there, but for the sake of discussion, in this article we’ll be taking a look at some budget parts available from VRSF.
This clean E93 BMW 335is is already a stout performer, but the stock components of the average N54 can leave your motor falling a bit short. This particular E93 we had in the shop just happened to conveniently feature all of the modifications that I’d recommend someone do first if they were just starting to mod their N54, and generally speaking these types of N54 mods are going to be of benefit for most E9x builds.
So, to be clear, when modding an N54 engine, the order I’d recommend is:
– a tuner like an AccessPORT that will allow you to remap the car immediately but has the flexibility to accomodate later mods
-an upgraded Front Mount Intercooler. So many people skip this and don’t understand how much not having one is holding them back – I can’t stress enough how important cooling is.
-Chargepipe and diverter valve/BOV upgrade. You’ve got to take care of the potentially problematic parts of the OEM system like the stock chargepipe and diverter valves, which are starting to get quite brittle as the parts have aged. It’s as much an upgrade as it is preventive maintenance by eliminating those sources of potential failure.
-Cat-Back Exhaust Systems
After getting the basics, you can move onto the intake, and from there, you can then think about the downpipes and exhausts – assuming of course ABSOLUTE POWER is your goal (rather than sound). While an exhaust can really change the character of the car – its looks and sound – performance isn’t changed all that much by a catback alone.
And of course, I should mention, to get the most out of any N54, it should have been Walnut Media Blasted recently. BMW recommends walnut media blasting every 40,000 miles, Cobb requires it be done before dyno tuning will be performed. On a tuned N54, that number is more like ever 25,000 miles, but an oil catch can will help extend that.
Those of you with a sharp eye might’ve already spotted the large 7″ VRSF Front Mount Intercooler for BMW E9X & E82, which we fitted to this E93 in just a couple hours. I am a firm believer that upgrading your intercooler is a good idea for any turbo/SC car, whether you plan to go wild with your mods or keep things fairly simple. On BMW N54-equipped models, the OEM intercooler is large enough to cope with OEM boost levels, but if you’ve cranked up the power, the stock intercooler is quickly overwhelmed and heatsoaks, causing the car to feel sluggish and lose horsepower until it cools back down. The #1 thing that is most detrimental to any engine is excess heat, so anything you can do to improve the cooling capacity of the car will improve its longevity and efficiency.
VRSF offers upsized Direct-Bolt-On Front Mount Intercoolers for BMW N54/N55 applications in a 7in core and a 5in stepped core – the image below is how the 7in Core version appears underneath the bumper fascia. It’s science fact that a cooler air charge is more dense in oxygen, and the more oxygen there is in your air/fuel mix, the better it burns and as a result you make more power. Think of it this way, a better intercooler doesn’t add any “extra” horsepower, it simply allows your engine and your mods to work to their fullest potential, allowing you to consistently make the most horsepower, and contributes to helping your engine stay cool and happy.
In addition to the FMIC, this E93 335is intake has been upgraded with a VRSF Dual Cone Intake. While somewhat less effective than an intake with a heat shield or sealed airbox, the VRSF Dual Cones are still a major improvement over the stock intake, on the order of nearly 20whp with sharp response, and without any heatshielding or airbox to stifle it, you’ll hear a lot more of your turbo doing its thing, and at $94.99 with a payoff of 20whp, it’s some of the cheapest horsepower you can possibly buy.
We’ve mentioned before that the OEM Diverter Valves (aka blow off valves) were extremely leaky even when new, and as we stated in our last article on the topic, the OEM diverter valves are robbing you of a whopping 26lb/ft of torque at the wheels in 1st and 2nd gears, and suck up about a second of response thanks to their less-than-perfect plastic construction, and now that many N54s are more than 5 years old, probably more prone to leaks than ever. What’s more, the OEM plastic chargepipes are becoming brittle and cracking, even on cars running stock boost. That’s why we’ve upgraded this car with a VRSF Chargepipe for BMW N54 engines, fitted with upgraded OEM-style diverter valves.
It’s difficult to see under the intakes, but if you look carefully you can spot the black wrinkle finish of the VRSF chargepipe right underneath the dual cone intakes.
With the mods above paired with the car’s existing piggyback tuner (not installed here), will make a massive difference of more than 30whp and 60wtq – and that’s before you factor in more aggressive tuning. With the dual cone intakes and upgraded chargepipe and diverter valves, response is razor sharp.
Now that we’ve talked about the power mods here, we can talk about the exterior here. Yeah, it looks like a stock E93 335is – which is by no means a bad thing, as that rear diffuser looks pretty fantastic, and the interior color combo against the alpine white exterior looks really classy.
Despite now making more than 40whp over stock, the casual observer (or Crown Victoria) would never be the wiser.
Man, a cabrio with the top down is really a sight to behold.
Interested in getting more power out of your BMW? Talk to the Mod Experts now to find out how – call 714-582-3330 or chat live on ModBargains.com to find out what options are available for your particular application.
Thanks for reading, see you next time!
Story & Photos Nick Gregson