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Blue Chunder: E46 318Ci / VQ37VHR Swap

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After being out of the car scene for some time, I've decided to throw my hat back in the ring and create something fun to build and ultimately fun to drive. A user friendly budget would be a bonus but we'll see how that one pans out !! This will just be a fun street car so the aim is to have a mix of comfort, performance and looks.

The car:

A NZ new 2000 BMW 318Ci with 4 speed auto. Quite tidy generally with only a handful of the expected BMW "things that don't work no more" to resolve at a later date. Being under powered will hopefully mean no cracking around the subframe and minimal hard driving time etc on the body.

The engine:

A Nissan VQ37VHR from a 2009 Skyline 370GT automatic. 125k on it give or take so hopefully plenty of life left in it. Factory spec at 243kW which should be a solid upgrade over the cars stock 77 !! No plans for anything engine wise at the moment, must get mobile and legal first.

Progress so far:

The car is sitting with front end off, engine and driveline are out, rear interior and fuel tank etc removed. Have cleaned the underside to a reasonable standard and have welded in the CMP RACP reinforcement kit.

Have cleaned and painted the 330 rear end components ready for reinstallation along with installing Powerflex bushes in most locations.

Have created a rig to fire up and run the VQ37 on the ground which was a success and a lot of fun ... had the Nissan anti-theft (NATS) removed via UpRev and an ARC license installed at the same time. This was to validate that I can run the motor prior to install and working out the wiring later on when its more difficult. You can check the video here:

Next Steps:

REALLY keen to get the rear end back together so something is finished !! Will need to complete the welding in of the RACP to frame rails in the boot before the LVV certifier comes to check out my work. Once that's done I can get ready to stitch weld some other trouble areas then underseal and paint it all real pretty before installing the backend.

Once the back end is together and looking slick I can finally turn attention to the pointy end and see if the engine is going to play nice. There will be a lot of work involved and a few options to investigate ... current thinking is it will be a custom oil pan and cross member at least. Steering rack may also be an issue.

Some Pics To This Point:












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Nice choice on the engine. I really rate these highly in terms of performance and how it feels when driving. Super excited that its going into an e46 but its gonna have a lot of torque so need to make sure the chassis/rear subframe area is well reinforced.

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Excellent project Dave - watching with a keen interest. 

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Not a whole lot of progress to report, completed the welding in of the top side RACP to frame rail plates. Tricky welding the 3mm plate to ~1mm ... I'd describe it as 'functional' :D

Next up I will remove the fuel and brake lines to clean the underbody ready for some fresh paint, in parallel I might drop the front subframe and test the engine / trans fit.



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