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Project E90 M3: Part 2 - Macht Schnell Bypass Track Pipes and EAS 80mm Exhaust Tips

by Billy Johnson

The M3 is the benchmark sports-sedan for a reason. Originally built as a homologation-special for racing, the M3 has always delivered sports car-like performance with the convenience of a small sedan/coupe and the luxury of a BMW. This formula has become so successful that many brands have followed suit with their own offerings. While I’m a fan of pretty much every car in this class, the M3 is arguably the best of the bunch on track.

The 4-door E90 takes this a step further in terms of daily usability and convenience. The goal of this project is to improve the car’s performance without losing sight of the M3’s philosophy or sacrificing daily drivability and comfort by turning it into a loud, stiff, compromised “racecar for the street”, which I have owned plenty of in the past.

With this in mind, we have been on the right track so far with the power increases from Part 1 but the next step was not looking too promising. Cat-back exhausts cost anywhere from $1-4 grand and only make a few hp, if that. Various companies have tried making headers but they’re not really on the market because apparently it’s hard to improve on the equal-length factory ones. Mid-pipes cost anywhere from $1-4 grand; but this is where the power is, the removal of the 400-cell primary cats which are the major choke point in the stock exhaust, creating a claimed 30psi of backpressure. Fortunately, Test Pipes are the most cost effective method and yields the same results as a mid-pipe which costs 3-5 times as much.

 

Macht Schnell Test PipesThe Macht Schnell “Bypass Track Pipes” (Test Pipes) come with everything you need. The pipes are pre-bent with a thick 2-bolt flange and have O2 bungs TIG-welded in the factory location for a perfect fit and the beefy 2-bolt clamp ensures a strong tight seal.

The real question is what combination of exhaust components improve performance without making the car drone or sacrifice the civilized nature of a modern 3-series BMW. Youtube videos are pretty much useless to determine the pitch and volume of various exhaust systems and so are individual opinions on what is ‘too loud’. While many have said that test pipes cause a foul smell and are too loud even with the stock exhaust, most would agree that mixing test pipes with any aftermarket cat-back result in a package that’s too loud. After taking all of this into consideration, test pipes with the factory mufflers should give us a gain in performance as good as any system out there for a fraction of the cost while hopefully keeping the exhaust note civil.

Macht Schnell is focused primarily on motorsports and takes a strong stance on the function over form statement. All of their products are intended to enhance performance, while maintaining and paying respect to BMW’s engineers and overall design. This sounds right up the alley of this project.


Once on the lift, the first step was to drop the mid-pipe.

Once we got the Macht Schnell “Bypass Track Pipes” we stopped by our friends at Kooks Headers’ facility in Statesville, NC for the install. With over 50 years in the business, Kooks makes exhausts for everything from street cars to NASCAR to 3,000hp Pro Modified drag cars, with everything drawn out in CAD to ensure a perfect fit. They also made the exhaust in the Roush #61 Grand-Am car that I raced. While the Test Pipes require no welding and are fairly easy to install with just a handful of wrenches and a hack saw, Kooks is one of the best exhaust manufacturers in the business and just down the street, so why not?

 

The stock 400-cell primary catalytic converters are the bottleneck in the S65’s exhaust. Removing them by either going to an aftermarket mid-pipe or the far less expensive test pipes will yield the largest gains in the exhaust department for our M3.
m3 factory spiked merge collectorThe M3’s equal-length factory headers are one of the best of any mass-produced production car out there. Check out the spiked 4-1 merge collector.
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Comments
Protodad
Protodadlink
Thursday, February 13, 2014 5:10 AM
This multi-cat setup is getting out of hand. This thing has 4 minimum and other cars have them jammed up next to the exhaust manifold as well. All for the sake of a few ppm of HC or Nox. I can't imagine any cat after the first having much work to do on a modern car.

That being said, impressive gains so far on an engine that is at the top of its class. I noticed that several people recently have used BBQ paint (rated to 800+) for their exhaust to really make it disappear from the back of their car.
Supercharged111
Supercharged111link
Thursday, February 13, 2014 7:02 AM
So now that the cheap/easy mods are used up, what's next?
Rockwood
Rockwoodlink
Thursday, February 13, 2014 7:51 AM
Jeez, never realized that ANY car could gain that much from 2 relatively simple parts, let alone an 8500rpm NA V8 making over 100hp/L.
BillyJ
BillyJlink
Thursday, February 13, 2014 8:53 AM
The design of the S65 headers is one of the best of any production car. Thankfully the cats are not integrated and are on the mid-pipe which allows for mods like the Macht Schnell test pipes to yield such large gains.

We just used high temp semi-gloss engine enamel on the muffler.

Stay tuned to see what's next ;)
turtl631
turtl631link
Thursday, February 13, 2014 10:31 AM
Cool project, I love M3 sedans. Have thought about one of these or a CTS V in a few years.

I appreciate the cost conscious approach. Too often, projects on expensive cars are proportionally expensive. Not everyone getting a $40k used car wants to spend an additional $40k on it.

Excited about the next installment!
Dusty Duster
Dusty Dusterlink
Thursday, February 13, 2014 12:16 PM
Wow, those are some serious gains from just a cat delete. Most N/A engines don't pick up that much power from simply removing the cats. Why are the BMW units so restrictive?
Rockwood
Rockwoodlink
Thursday, February 13, 2014 10:06 PM
I wonder if some of it has to do with the cams and header design making it extra sensitive to any loss in velocity.
spdracerut
spdracerutlink
Thursday, February 13, 2014 11:01 PM
I think with these high HP/L naturally aspirated engines, the components are so optimized (headers, exhaust, etc) that really the only easy bottle neck to remove is the cat. The S2000 is the same way; intake, header, and exhaust might gain you 15whp. A test pipe is worth about that much by itself.
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