Project E36 323is: Building the Poor Man's M3, Part 5 - Intake and Software

Project E36 323is: Building the Poor Man's M3, Part 5 - Intake and Software

By Jonathan Lawson

In Part 4 of our Poor Man's M3 project, we added a more serious soundtrack to our 323is with the help of a Corsa exhaust.  A great side effect was that it also happened to give a boost to our horsepower output.  That brought us from 141.1 wheel horse power (whp) to 146.8 whp, and it increased our torque output from 142.9 ft/lb to 149.5 ft/lb.  Better breathing is always a good thing, so we decided to get a bit more flow to the exhaust with a Stage 1 Turner Motorsport Performance Package, which includes an aFe intake and Shark Injector performance software. 

Stage 1 Turner Motorsport Performance Package

Above is a view of the complete Stage 1 Turner Motorsport Performance Package, which includes the Shark Injector software module, aFe intake tubing and adapter, Pro 5R oiled cotton gauze filter, aFe heat shield, rubber seals and all the necessary hardware for installation.

aFe Pro 5R oiled cotton gauze filter

The Pro 5R filter has 5 progressively finer layers of oiled cotton gauze mesh allowing for maximum airflow while protecting against dust and dirt on paved roads and highways. It's a reuseable filter element which needs only a shake and rinse to be cleaned, as well as occasional re-oiling.  

Conforti Shark Injector

This is the simple yet complex Shark Injector which provides the software for the Stage 1 Turner Motorsport Performance Package.  The Conforti tune it carries is customized for the aFe intake system, and it allows you to flash the ECU from just about anywhere (more on that in a moment).

323is DIY Home Depot Intake

Wait, what's this?  The car already has an aftermarket intake, you say?  Well, yes… As you can see above, the the car owner took it upon himself to install a home-made do-it-yourself intake after our exhaust article.  He simply couldn't wait, so this solution was conceived after finding some random, decade-old Mustang 5.0 parts lying around the garage.  It's very likely that a few drinks were also involved in this scheme.  It did fit, however, and it wasn't stock, so it must make more power, right?  That's the big question...  
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Tuesday, August 06, 2013 10:12 PM
Nicely done! It`s nice to see how the car comes together step by step. But apart from a tubular manifold and maybe a set of cams you`re almost done with the simple bolt-on stuff at least power wise. Can`t wait to see how it will develop!

Wednesday, August 07, 2013 1:08 AM
Stage 1 mapping on all engines usually refers to a conservative yet more powerful maps from standard. You could use it with any filter & exhaust, it would not matter. Even with a stock engine, a stage 1 mapping gives more HP.

Now if you want a more efficient and more reliable engine, have it fine tuned by a pro on a dyno. Off the shelf tunes are always quite conservative, because most of their users dont have a perfectly working car. Better lose 5-10HP on all cars than have 5% of customers blame their engine death on you ...
Ryan Georgas
Ryan Georgaslink
Wednesday, August 07, 2013 4:02 AM
I'd like to see an aftermarket intake elbow tested. My stock one cracked on the underside so I replaced it with a silicone one. My ear and butt dynos show improvements on a car with nearly identical mods. Mine's a 1994 w/ OBD1 though. How old is your upstream O2?
Wednesday, August 07, 2013 8:24 AM
True that most off-the-shelf tunes are conservative, and that's a good thing for all of us, really. Very likely that more power could be had with a dyno-based custom tune, but that brings expenses up quite a bit, and for this motor with these modifications, it wouldn't likely be worth that expense. This is just a very common and recommended upgrade which we wanted to highlight. We'll see what we have in store for the future, however.

Agreed that a non-turbulent intake elbow would very likely free up a couple of extra ponies.
Wednesday, August 07, 2013 6:07 PM
I know this isn't meant to be a dyno car, but the power numbers are disappointing. Perhaps those Germans did such a good job that they didn't leave much room for tuning. Any plans for more "real" power? Perhaps a some forced induction?
Thursday, August 08, 2013 2:32 AM
To my knowledge the 323i/328i share the M52 (B25/B28) engine platform so there should be possibilites to make use of that. The larger crankshaft in combination with some cams should boost performance quite a bit. It`s a lot a wrenching but costs are low with doing that...perfect for the poor man!

Nick B
Nick Blink
Thursday, August 08, 2013 8:44 AM
@Cyrusathell - the 323 and 328 do have the same block, as you stated the 323 is the b25 and the 328 is the b28. At this point we've come to the conclusion that the B25 is pretty much optimized to it's full flow potential from the factory. We'll be doing a "budget" swap soon, stay tuned.

@Jeffball610 - I'm disapointed in the #'s too, i agree that the engine is basically as efficient as it can be from the factory so there's not much room for improvement. I was originally going to do cams and M50 manifold but at this point opening up the top probably won't gain the power expected since the bottom is still a 2.5 liter. No plans on FI but we're working on a "budget" swap so stay tuned.
King Hax
King Haxlink
Tuesday, August 27, 2013 1:13 AM
I personally favour the E36 over the E46, but that's just me. I'd scrap the E46 M3 project and focus more on the E36 haha But I may be biased...

Great build, looking forward to more!
Anonymous User
Anonymous Userlink
Tuesday, October 08, 2013 9:32 PM
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