Deft Auto Interview

A couple months ago we had the honor of meeting Cliff, a new neighbor who is a car fanatic like us here at FJD Performance, who happened to be an automotive journalist and Co-Owner of Deft Auto Co.

Over the last couple of months Cliff and Frank have gotten to know one another a bit more and share some automotive stories, adventures and ideas. To say we want to work on a project with Cliff and Deft Auto is an understatement. We find ourselves constantly sending cool craigslist ads of BMWs, Porsches, Quirky JDM Nuggets and classic Americana made gems with the idea of building a racecar. Only time will tell if we do choose to go down this route together, but FJD Performance is always willing to take on new projects!

This month Cliff booked an interview with us and we couldn’t be more honored! We were asked a plethora of questions ranging from why we do what we do, where we started, how we got to where we are and where we’re heading.

On a cool, October midday at Sonoma Raceway I met up with Frank at the Sears Point Grille, “The burgers are actually really good here.” he reassured. “Try some of their barbeque sauce, it’s got a little kick to it.” I had just walked over from the midfield scoring tower, between turns 1 and 6, where I was trying to get some good shots of Frank’s second session on track.

“I’m exhausted, I barely got any sleep last night.” Frank said, “I didn’t get to bed until after midnight and I was up at 4AM.” The results of an anxious night before race day. But, here we were, at Sonoma Raceway. I was enjoying the chance to absorb the racing and snap some photos, and Frank was looking racy and competitive on track.

Shoot on over to deftautoco.com to read the full article on Frank and the Mare!

BMW M Tech II ZHP Bumper Restoration

Hey there Guys and Gals and again… welcome!… to another write up here on FJD Performance. Today we are going over our ZHP bumper restoration project that took place over the last couple of months.

Roughly in mid September we had picked up an OEM BMW M Tech II sedan bumper off the list of Craigs for a whooping 50 bucks! What a steal! Especially since these are about 500 bucks brand new from BMW. The bumper had your typical wear and tear from being driven, but also has some gremlins as there were huge gashes under the bumper and a crack from SF hills, streets, curbs, pedestrians and probably small animals too.

Post YouTube videos and Mighty Car Mods jokes later we began working on the bumper. We started off drilling holes around the crack in order to put it back in place and to stop the crack from further growing. While we heard Drift Stitches are a thing… we felt it unnecessary on the Wagon. Shortly after some JB Weld for plastic found itself on the bumper around the crack, and we got bondo to fill in the gashes on the bottom of the bumper and to fill in the scratches and rock chip holes on the front of the bumper. We had about 3 separate sessions of bondo fill and sanding before we got to sanding the entire bumper in prep for primer and paint. CFO Andrew made an appearance for this project as well and helped with the wet sanding and priming of the bumper.

After the bumper was all filled and primed the project was put on a light hold as we waited for Base and Clear to arrive from ERA Paints in Oregon. ERA has tons of paint matched cans of spray paint for the E46, and possibly other BMW models and manufacturers, but we only cared about color code 400, Steel Grey Metallic. During the painting process we tested the paint on our rear door handle cover and the tow hook cover. Needless to say it looked tits. Sorry kids.

Fast forward to our cooling overhaul project, and 4 cans of spray paint later we finally got to finish up the project and get the clear on the bumper followed by some cut, buff and polishing.

Phase 1: JB Welding the broken bits and Wet Sanding using 180, 320, 400 and 600 grit

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Phase 2: Applying Bondo layers and wet sanding down areas using 180, 320, 400 and 600 grit sandpaper

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Phase 3: Filler Primer and Wet Sanding

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Phase 4: Painting with color matched paint and stalling the project

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The one on top is the new paint and the one on bottom is the original paint

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After getting a solid base of paint on the bumper this project halted from September until recently

Phase 5: Finishing the project. Paint, Clear, Sanding, Buff, Cut and Polishing

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Again a very special thanks to Andrew Shultz for his assistance on this project and thanks to ERA Paints!

Elise’s First Make Over

Hey there Guys and Gals and welcome back to FJD Performance! This entire month of November has be one for the books, and one to remember (no pun intended). We found ourselves in a bit of a bind on the first due to an unexpected mechanical need for Elise, our E46 BMW Wagon; only to be later followed by some fuel related issues with the Mare, but we will talk about that in another write up.

Fresh out of October and Halloween Elise had some trouble with her cooling system which required immediate attention, and cause the hood of the car to get damaged among other bits. We knew that a cooling system overhaul was going to be happening, but we weren’t expecting to do it right then and there. We got the car towed back and started ripping into the car on Saturday. We also felt a bit of need to finish up our M Tech II ZHP bumper that we picked up for $50 a couple months ago. More on that later.

We paid – pun intended – a quick trip to Turner Motorsports’ website and picked up a full cooling system overhaul kit for about $500 consisting of: a new radiator, all the needed hoses, water pump, blue BMW coolant, coolant overflow tank, thermostat and housing and also picked up a new fan clutch and water pump pulley. Having worked on a 97 Audi A4, and watched many YouTube videos, we had an idea of what to expect when working on the car, so full destruction ahead!

The car was fairly easy to work on, and we actually had the majority of things done within the working day, but due to waiting on parts to arrive the full project lasted 2 weekends. All in all still not too bad; just very involved. In addition to the project we picked up some M Tech style fog lights for the bumper and a cover for the fog lights for us to route some ducts of our own to the new brakes Elise will be getting in the future. We painted, cleared, buffed, cut and polished the new bumper as well, but during this project, on top of the cooling project, was the very unfortunate fires here in the North Bay/Chico area of California, so air quality was very poor, and made for somewhat tough breathing in addition to the painting.

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A very special thanks to FJD Performance CFO, Andrew Shultz, for all the time and help with this little project of ours! More will be happening with the wagon over the next few months as well, so keep your eyes on the look out.

Half Way Across the Country: Road Trip Edition

Welcome Guys and Gals to this weeks write up on FJD Performance!

Today we’re covering our trip from California to Mississippi for the Mare’s new engine. We started our trip Tuesday morning with 282,815 miles on the clock, and finally got to work on the car Friday afternoon with 285,078 miles. The drive to Louisiana (where we did the swap) was a hard one. Being that the BMW is a daily, we don’t drive the Mare as much, so we don’t constantly check to see if the A/C works. Well. Wouldn’t you know…the A/C was all out of R134a. Excluding the fact that the A/C didn’t work, and the rubber shift boot was thrown out and letting heaps of hot air into the cabin the drive wasn’t that bad. Yes, we did that whole trip without A/C. And to make things even more exciting the A/C system that was fixed in LA got broken again somehow, so the whole trip back was without A/C too! Luckily though we got a new shift boot on, so the drive was a lot better.

Friday afternoon we took the Mare to the shop, and at 1430 the swap began. Around 1930 friday night we took an hour break to get some delicious food, and then around 2100 got back to work. The new engine was installed and all squared away by 2330, and at that time we called it a night and went back to the hotel.

Saturday we got to a late start around 1100 and got to getting some new parts at the local auto parts store. A couple hours later we started up the engine, and celebrated with the occasion. First try and the engine fired right up. We finished off the day around 1800 with the car nearly ready to come back down.

Sunday morning we got started around 830, and spent the majority of the time doing minor miscellaneous bits like rebuilding part of the Steeda STB so it would clear the JLT, wideband install and o2 sensor extensions (soldering involved), clearance the hood, painting, and adjusting the K member.

Monday we dropped off the car to get tuned by Wednesday night so we could leave first thing Thursday. Unfortunately Wednesday night we ran into a hiccup…

The Mare’s computer was essentially rejecting the tune which made getting the car tuned practically impossible. Fortunately enough Mike at RKG was able to get things tweaked in the computer so we could have a safe trip back to CA.

A couple thousand miles and 30 something hours later we finally got back home, and are now in the pursuit to get the car tuned and on the dyno to find out our number, so stay tuned for that!

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Saturday morning

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Sunday Morning

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First start up with open X pipe

2nd start with full exhaust bolted on

A very, VERY special thanks to Will, again, for everything he did, and for being on board with this crazy plan of ours! We couldn’t have done it without you brother, thank you again for all your help, wisdom, and hospitality from one SN95 fanatic to another.

The Mare’s New Heart

Hey there Guys and Gals and welcome to one of the most exciting articles to be published on FJDPerformance.com for the rest of the year! That’s right, this is about the assembly of the Mare’s new power-plant; a naturally aspirated, 12:1 compression ratio, Aluminum WAP block powered 2V which is capable of producing 350* horsepower at the wheels. You may be thinking… “Why is there an asterisks, *, on 350?” Well folks, that’s because the engine has not been dyno’d and finally tuned for the Mare. The engine is expected to produce between 350/370 (really pushing) at the wheels (400/425hp @ crank), which is more power at the wheels than any 94-04 Mustang made from the factory, but that’s not saying much with the cars we have now-a-days.

The journey, and last push, to finally build this engine began last October when we took the Mare in to DeLeon Dyno in Santa Clara, CA and came back with 197.2RWHP and 267.6RWTQ on a Dynapack. We wanted to make respectable power, and to have a high revving engine that would be somewhat reliable on a racetrack for track days and the merge into W2W racing with NASA Nor Cal. Given that American Iron (AI) and American Iron Extreme (AIX) have restrictions on cars (9.5:1 HP & 9:1 TQ for AI)  we opted to have a power to weight ratio that would allow roughly 350RWHP and a 3000lb raceweight without driver, but once we move to AIX we won’t have that HP and TQ restriction to worry about.

We started the build by stumbling across a unused Saleen SMS 3V WAP block off craigslist from a former employee that used to build the SMS Saleen engines. The block had already undergone the normal machine work used to build the SMS engines with the stroker kits, but never made it to production since the company stopped making the SMS cars. Our seller thankfully decided to hold on to the block, and we later picked it up for a whopping $100. After we bought the block we went and got some Boss 302 forged piston rods from your friendly, not our neighborhood, Ford store for something like $23 a rod. After we got those parts we reached a little plateau and stopped buying things until we did the dyno day at DDP. About 2 months after our dyno day we sent the block and rods to our engine builder, and good friend, Will – who is known as Lwarrior1016 on the forums – to help with the build. Will gave us the following list of parts to buy in addition to parts that would make the install easy and finish up the front of the car:

  • ARP main studs
  • 4.6L crankshaft
  • Complete gasket set
  • Clevite racing bearing set
  • ARP head stud kit
  • OEM 3V Ford windage tray
  • Bounday 3V/GT500 billet oil pump
  • Trickflow camshaft gears
  • Quantum 340LPH fuel pump
  • CMS 2V exhaust valves
  • CMS 2V intake valves
  • 4V lash adjusters
  • ARH long tubes
  • MM tubular k member
  • MM solid steering shaft
  • MM solid rack bushings
  • Cobra steering rack
  • SPEC stage 3 clutch
  • RAM Aluminum flywheel
  • 15/16″ oil pick up tube
  • flexible engine dipstick
  • O2 wideband

And plenty of other little things that needed to be done. With this build we wanted to be as close to completion of the Mare and the front suspension as possible. We slowly started to acquire the parts and sent them to Will to work on. Starting with the Short block, then moving to the long block parts, then on to the engine paint, and now finally getting parts like the rack and k member all shipped and ready for the swap at the end of this June, so by the end of the trip we will be roughly 6 or 7k into the build. When we originally decided to get the engine built we estimated a 4-6 month time frame, and the engine was completely built within that 6 month window thanks to all the hard work and dedication from Will. He is the definition of a man’s man, an amazing human being, and a great friend. Thank you for serving our country, and serving FJD Performance brother. We wouldn’t be where we are today without you.

When Will first took possession of the block in mid December 2017 he refinished, oiled the cylinders and cleaned the block.

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Will also got to work on our PI heads doing some porting and polishing.

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Will got to assembling the short block starting with assembling the pistons, rods, valves and doing valve reliefs. Installing the ARP studs and prepping the valves for the heads.

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Since Will decided to take his own SN down a different path, we were lucky to get some parts off his previously built 13:1 N/A 2V which put out around 370RWHP.

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Will was gracious enough to sell us his Victor Jr intake, GT500 oil pump, Stage 5 cams (and the set of PI heads), the 6061 plenum, ARH headers and a couple other bits.
Shortly after the long block was assembled we got the engine painted our personal favorite color. K7, also known as Bright Atlantic Blue. The engine received primer, paint, and clear like all cars do.

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After the paint dried it was time to continue with assembly, disassembly, reassembly, more paint and on to final prep for install into Will’s Rio Red SN.

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Unfortunately we couldn’t upload every picture due to the orientations of the pictures and wanting to keep everything aligned and visually friendly. If possible we will try to edit the missing pictures and reupload them. You can check out our posts and “engine build” story over at the official FJD Performance instagram account. As we sit currently the engine has about 1500 miles and is well broken in, so she will be ready for the install, dyno, tune and track abuse along with the 2400 mile adventure back to the California Bay Area.

The engine is naturally aspirated with 12:1 compression ratio, a 05+ Aluminum WAP block weighting around 80lbs and bored .030″ over, with Boss 302 forged rods, GT500 billet aluminum oil pump, ported and polished PI heads, Stage 5 comp cams, Edelbrock Victor Jr EFI intake manifold, 6061 sheet metal throttle body and plenum and estimated for 350RWHP and a redline of about 7500RPM.

Don’t Always Trust the “Experts”

Hey there Guys and Gals!

Today’s write-up is short and sweet, but this time isn’t related to the Mare. You may be thinking…
“What?!”
“You’re not talking about the Mare?”
“On the official FJD Performance website?!”

That’s right! We aren’t talking about the Mare this time; instead were talking about the DadCar, Andrew’s 2003 540i.

Recently Andrew has been taking his beloved BMW in to get inspected at his local BMW dealership because he has been chasing down a noise that, quite honestly, has been annoying the hell out of him! Andrew has special ties to this dealership, so he isn’t your typical BMW customer; he’s even more special (picking up what we’re putting down?), thus the reason he feels so comfortable taking the car to them. Why he didn’t ask us to take a look at the car in the first place is beyond us, but we’ll get to that later.

During movements requiring torsion, like pulling in and out of a driveway or turning, he was noticing a pop and clicking noise coming from the front of his suspension; with the car now seeing 15 years of age and seeing 107k+ miles that noise could be anything in the suspension. Typical culprits could be components like ball-joints, control arm bushings, sway bar end-links and bushings, struts, issues caused by the Dinan STB or even some other, more expensive and difficult parts to get access to. Andrew took the car to a few of his trusted techs at the dealership, and they all gave their opinions and thoughts, but none of them could really identify what the issue was. Some suggested replacing old components (like we previously mentioned), others simply came back with the obvious stating that “the car is old… it’s going to make noises”. However that answer wasn’t a sufficient enough answer for Andrew. It wasn’t until a mutual friend, and tech, at the dealer mentioned the sound may have something to do with the sway bar, but still wasn’t able to identify any issues with it.

With Andrew’s patience growing thin, and the urge to fix this problem that nobody seemed to want to fix; Andrew found himself asking FJD Performance to take a quick look at the DadCar, and of course we were game! Upon taking immediate receipt of the 540 we drove around a parking lot for about 10 minutes putting the car in different situations and scenarios trying to first identify the noise Andrew was referring to. Needless to say it didn’t take long to hear the noise, and think of what it could be based off of experience with the Mare. Finally getting the car up on stands we got under the BMW and were pleased to see how neat clean it was under there! Unlike the Mare…

(sorry)

We took a look at the ball joints, control arms, struts, STB, sway bar end links and all other bushings, but didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. A couple head scratches later we decided to go through all the nuts and bolts to check if they were loose…
Bingo.
We started with the sway bar end-links and then found that all four of the mounting brackets and bushings for the sway bar were loose. We quickly tightened them all up and continued to look around for anything else, but couldn’t spot any additional problems. We put the rims and tires back on the 540, sat her down, and jumped in the car and immediately could tell the car felt tighter. A quick drive around the block and about 10 up and downs in driveways and; we couldn’t hear the clicking and popping noise; we couldn’t believe how much more responsive the front became!

So what’s the point in all this? Sometimes, professionals just don’t want to waste their time of day, and we aren’t saying that in a negative light, or to make mechanics look bad, but we are saying… If you want your car looked at, and respected the same way you would treat it; you sometimes have to put your trust in someone who is a enthusiast, and flat out enjoys working and tinkering on cars because its a passion, and not just because it keeps the lights on and pays for toys. There have been plenty of times working on the Mare where we get completely frustrated and want nothing to do with the car, but in the end we know how much the car means to us and what it stands for. FJD Performance will always be willing to lend a helping hand to our kinfolk in the car community.

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After we put the car back together we did a complimentary rim detailing and photo shoot for the BMW.

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