AEM Infinity Plug and Play Badness for the BMW S54 (E46 M3) Engine!
Engine swaps have been a staple of building cars as long as there have been cars. Put a bigger more powerful engine in a smaller lighter car and magic gets done. Today with advancing technology, performing swaps is getting harder and harder. New engines have multiplexed CANBUS controllers. The car's ECU might not just control the engine but the door looks, window switches, dash and yes, even the radio. Mess around with a swap now and not only do you have to understand how to tune a motor but also how to encode CANBUS data from smart switches. Working on this stuff is getting beyond the realm of the DIY guy. (And a lot of engineers!)
All hope is not lost however, in steps AEM and their new Infinity line of ECU's. AEM is in the process of developing a series of plug and play harnesses for the Infinity. These plug and play systems will have an interface harness with an expansion box to handle CANBUS duties as well as to add inputs for additional aftermarket sensors and AEMnet multiplexed gauges. The Infinity also has switched outputs to activate devices.
To read all the specific details and feature set of the amazingly flexible BMW E46 M3 Plug-and-Play system, be sure to check this out!
We wanted to see just how easy the AEM Infinity system is to set up so we went to Pure Performance in Laguna Hills California to observe just how easy it is to get what should be a challenging job going. The job was to wire and get an S54 E46 M3 engine running in an older E36 chassis. We were told that the Infinity plug and play made this easy and it would only take a few hours. Yeah right we thought, and went down to Pure Performance expecting to be there a few days. Boy were we wrong!
It all starts with this BMW E36 that is getting a cool heart transplant, an E46 M3 S54 engine. You can get a base 325i-328i for pretty cheap now a days. The stock M50 series motors for these made from 148-190 hp and 140-210 lb/ft of torque depending on the year. Drop in the S54 and suddenly you have 333 hp and 269 lb/ft of torque, that's a huge difference with the reliability of the stock engine. Although the featured car is a race car that runs in NASA ST4 or BMWCCA GTS4 class, the Infinity ECU is also totally compatible to a weekend race car that retains all of its factory systems.
When we arrived Pure Performance had already physically bolted the S54 engine in and had mechanically hooked things up. The S54 readily bolts in place since it is part of the same engine family as the lower spec models. Pure Performance is a BMW specialist that tackles everything from restorations of classic street BMW's to full on Grand Am type builds. We spend a lot of the time at the shop drooling over all the in process iron. Daniel Wennerberg, the owner of Pure Performance was very patient, answering all of our BMW questions. Daniel is a walking reference book on all things BMW.
Pure Performance had prepped the AEM Infinity ECU to drop into the E36 chassis. In the E46, the kit drops into the stock location but since this was an E36, they fabricated this cool bracket to support the Infinity under the dash cleanly. The Infinity is fully sealed and has motorsports grade IP67 weatherproof connectors. Why go to an Infinity? The stock BMW ECU can be jailbroken and reflashed to tune it but only for a limited number of times. There is no limit on an Infinity of course. Although this is a dedicated race car, the Infinity will work exceedingly well on a weekend race car, and all stock functionality like the AC will be retained.