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E46 M3 (2001-2006) Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006.


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Old Fri, Nov-03-2017, 03:57:53 PM   #1
tjkenny15
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Cool Results: American Racing Headers

FYI: Technical issues with Photo hosting website. Working on getting the photos back up.

About 4 months ago I purchased the American Racing Headers w/ the catted section 1. I considered going with the Super-Sprint V1 stepped headers but my gut told me to give these a go. Personally, I am a big proponent of buying American (where possible of course). Most importantly, I was searching for the best setup for track or my occasional long sprinted highway runs. Just by looking at these headers and with my technical knowledge of performing volumetric equations and ventilation studies in my line of work, I had a hunch these headers would produce more total power and sustained torques later in the RPM range than the V1s (under the right conditions). Over the past 4 months, the headers sat in the garage (bought a house and a lot of other big life events have gotten in the way of installing and tuning). Soooo, that being said, this past Friday, I took off work early and made the 30 minute trip up to Crofton, Maryland from Downtown D.C. to have the headers installed and tuned.



I made it to Tuning Tech Frank Smith's shop intact (DC and Prince George's County, Maryland drivers are quite possibly the worst, selfish, erratic drivers there are in the entire US of A). Immediately upon arrival, Matt Coyne and I did a series of baseline dyno runs.

The Car:
My e46 m3 is bone stock from an engine performance standpoint. The car is sitting at 109,000 miles and until I purchased it, it’s been dealer serviced its entire life. I've owned this particular e46 M3 for just over a year now. The previous owner was a 65 year old doctor who simply drove the car on the highway to his office on nice days (she’s a beautiful unicorn). Before driving to the shop the previous day, I installed OE NGK spark plugs and threw a couple gallons of 93 US octane fuel in the tank.







The American Racing Headers:
The header design and materials are top quality. The welds are good, I’ve seen better but personally I know that someone skilled in TIG welding put some quality time into the product. God knows I can’t weld for sh*t so I’m going to be happy with what I’ve got. These headers are a part that you will never have to worry about on your e46 m3 (a nice change of pace as a BMW owner). When I weighed the headers, the scale read 15.2 lbs. and the catted section 1 weighed 9.6 lbs. I would estimate that there is probably about a 5% degree of certainty with the scale I used.





These headers sound like none other for this car. I’ve only had them on for about 60 miles and as far as I can tell, very little rasp higher up. Personally, I like a bit of rasp but I am fine without it. The car sounds somewhat exotic in the lower RPMs and like most M3s w/ headers higher in the power band (but with less rasp). I have to pick a section 3 that will work well with these headers from a sound and performance standpoint (the stock muffler is a big choke point for these header though it helped produce decent backpressure). If any of you have any suggestions regarding a muffler, I’m all ears. I personally have also been a big fan of the Canadian Scorza, Dixis Ti, and the Dinan muffler. An aftermarket section 3 will really help the overall sound. I will produce a video and attached to this thread shortly to show y’all how it sounds.

Baseline Dynocom results:
We performed a couple of runs and the Dynocom brand dyno at TTFS which showed that the car produced 265 whp (remember this is a Dynocom brand dyno). This is nothing crazy from the stock e46 m3 on this dyno. Matt and I both believed it should have maybe a couple extra WHP and Torques. My biggest concern was that the torque started to off after 5,000 RPMs and the horsepower started to fall after 6,500 RPMs. This was slightly disappointing in its stock form but most bone stock e46 m3s tend to make 270 whp on this dyno. This probably meant a couple issues could possibly be wrong with the car; (1) it isn't getting enough fuel due to a failing fuel pump or clogged fuel filter or, (2) more than likely the VANOS isn't as quick as it once was and has a slow response rate. This being the third e46 m3 I've owned I really was hoping to put off ANOTHER VANOS for a bit but what do you know, after the 2nd VANOS job, third time the charm lol.
*I was unable to get an independent dyno performed but the fact of the matter is Tuning Tech Frank Smith's dyno will work to show what gains these headers are capable of.



Matt performed a VANOS test in INPA. The VANOS showed that it passed, barely. The car would ultimately be hindered by its VANOS with the final results. We were able to look at the Voltage of the fuel pump during the Dyno pulls and there were no dips or inconsistencies in Voltage. This would mean that the fuel was probably not a factor as to why the power started to dip off in the higher RPMs. Damn VANOS seals!!!



Header installation:
The installation went a lot quicker with two extra sets of hands to facilitate the process (Matt and Dan of TTFS). Thankfully, Dan was able to do a bulk of the stock header removal which saved me the trouble. Literally every single stud was removed from the block when taking the nuts off the studs!



About 4 years ago, I installed a set of Euro Headers on my Topaz Blue m3 and it took almost 24 hours by myself. The installation of these headers is slightly more involved than most headers. In ways, these headers do go in easier because they are one piece but with the limited space, it does create a couple extra steps; make sure you have an extra set of hands available. We had to lift/support the motor up on its left side to fit everything in. That involved loosening the motor mount and supporting the motor upwards with a jack.



The section 1 installation went in just like most section 1s. It was not very difficult with the entire exhaust removed from the vehicle.
While the headers were out, I replaced the CPV valve o-ring with a Viton material o-ring. Thankfully, I bought this beforehand just assuming the seal was shot because what do you know… it was. Thanks mpower22!!!



Tuning Time:
After the headers were installed w/ catted section 1, it was time for Frank to work his magic. Understandably, Frank, Matt, and I, were concerned with the VANOS results to begin with. These headers require a tune; there is no way around not having a tune for these headers, specifically. Do not expect to drive the car to a shop after installation for a tune. Prior plan to have a map that will work for the DME. This is mainly due to the fact that unlike every other header ever made for this car; these headers combine Bank 1 and Bank 2 into the same exhaust tubing. The O2 sensors consequently do not like the Air/Fuel ratio in the same stream and the motor runs rough. Here I wish I could get more in depth with the technical lingo like Matt or Frank can but we really didn't come here to hear me talk about that, we're here for results. Also, the setup I chose was with the catted section 1. I’ve done catless before but those days are over for me. Going with a catless setup should yield an additional 3-4 wheel horses.

Final Results... sorta
Before: 265 WHP at 6,650 RPMs
After: 305 WHP at 7,350 RPMs
Theoretical total: 325-335 WHP at 8,100 RPMs

Frank believes there is an extra 10-12 WHP on the table if the VANOS was healthy and if it was able to fully advance. I fully believe this as well. It’s also important to note from the get-go, the VANOS was not healthy so please take that into consideration. The motor was not fully tuned after 7,200 RPM. Because of the VANOS not being at its full potential, we left power on the table. The TRUE deltas aren’t known because of the VANOS issue. When you factor my setup being catted, an un-catted system might have been able to pick up an additional 3-4 whp. I ran a stock airbox and filter, with the right Cold Air Intake, hypothetically, I could have added 9-12 whp on top of that. These headers flow so incredibly well that the stock air box becomes a VERY big choke point. We ran the stock air box with both an OEM paper filter and a drop in K&N. Neither showed very indiscernible differences. So with all that being said, I would comfortably say that these headers, w/ an un-catted section 1, a higher flowing Cold Air Intake, and a healthy VANOS are capable of adding 60 to 70 WHP to a previously stock e46 m3. As a scientist, I don’t like making a theoretical hypothesis like this until actual results. As soon as I am able to have the VANOS rebuilt and a Cold Air Intake installed, I will have the car re-tuned and back on the dyno.
Unfortunately, these are the only dyno graphs I have, just a couple photos with my phone. My baseline runs did not save and my last dyno pull did not save a 305.5 whp pull. I am actually slightly pissed about this happening after spending a lot of money at TTFS. I realize this information is only slightly helpful because we cannot compare the deltas but try and use this new information as best as possible. I understand the graph doesn’t show a gain of 65 whp but you got look at all the factors. 65 whp is certainly obtainable with a stock setup, easily. I really wish I could show it to you now but if y’all can wait, I should have some additional results after New Years.



I plan on re-building this VANOS sometime this winter and I will pick up a cheap cold air intake and retest on the dyno. I, eventually, plan on going with a CSL style airbox and don’t want to dump money into a cold air intake.


The beauty of these headers is that you are buying the best product out there. If you add additional performance engine modifications, these headers will not limit you. I honestly believe that I could see an additional 12 WHP, easily, with a high flowing muffler (marginal increase in torque as well when tuned). It’s only a matter of time until these headers get ripped off. These headers did surprisingly well with torque (a concern for most of us with the loss of back pressure). The torque did not suffer as much as I was expecting as well. So with all that being said, I am very pleased with these headers. I’m extremely happy with my purchase and believe these are the best headers you can buy for this car.

Let the discussion begin!
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Old Fri, Nov-03-2017, 04:10:38 PM   #2
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Default Re: Results: American Racing Headers

Nice post, thanks for sharing. Good looking car.
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Old Fri, Nov-03-2017, 04:20:07 PM   #3
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Default Re: Results: American Racing Headers

Well those are some interesting results. Maybe do a compression test? Lots of guys in Europe have issues with their head gaskets burning up between cylinders.

Thanks for sharing!

Last edited by 95bullet; Fri, Nov-03-2017 at 04:27:28 PM.
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Old Fri, Nov-03-2017, 04:28:25 PM   #4
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Default Re: Results: American Racing Headers

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Originally Posted by 95bullet View Post
Well those are some interesting results. Maybe do a compression test? The guys in Europe have issue with their head gaskets burning up between cylinders.

Thanks for sharing!
Well aware of the European issues. Compression is perfect. This is simply the VANOS. Thanks!
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Old Fri, Nov-03-2017, 04:29:21 PM   #5
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Default Re: Results: American Racing Headers

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Originally Posted by WyattH View Post
Nice post, thanks for sharing. Good looking car.
Thank you sir.
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Old Fri, Nov-03-2017, 04:51:48 PM   #6
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Default Re: Results: American Racing Headers

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Originally Posted by tjkenny15 View Post
Well aware of the European issues. Compression is perfect. This is simply the VANOS. Thanks!
That's good to hear. Good luck getting her sorted out. I'm sure you'll find those extra ponies
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Old Fri, Nov-03-2017, 05:15:08 PM   #7
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Default Re: Results: American Racing Headers

I'm still waiting for independent before and afters.

P.S. and all the caveats about dyno plots not saving kind of makes this post a bummer. The pictures you have aren't even showing up for me.
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Old Fri, Nov-03-2017, 05:37:21 PM   #8
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Default Re: Results: American Racing Headers

Mind blown both about the actual results and potential additional increases if car is in peak form!

Awesome post and thanks for sharing!
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Old Fri, Nov-03-2017, 06:01:15 PM   #9
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Default Re: Results: American Racing Headers

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Originally Posted by C///M View Post
I'm still waiting for independent before and afters.

P.S. and all the caveats about dyno plots not saving kind of makes this post a bummer. The pictures you have aren't even showing up for me.
Sorry my photo hosting software is messed up right now. Frustrating.

This is completely independent; TTFS had no skin in this game. I just had them make my file and I used their dyno.
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Old Fri, Nov-03-2017, 06:02:35 PM   #10
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Default Re: Results: American Racing Headers

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Originally Posted by E30toF30 View Post
Mind blown both about the actual results and potential additional increases if car is in peak form!

Awesome post and thanks for sharing!
I'm very happy with the results. Just need to get that Vanos rebuilt ugh

Happy to share my experience.
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Discussing Comprehensive CSL Intake Thread in the E46 M3 (2001-2006) Forum - Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006. at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)