Twin Turbo Wagon: Evan's E61 Build Log


Nov 7, 2016
San Diego
Greetings Spool Street,

For those of you who frequent other forums you may recognize me as "ucsbwsr" or on Instagram as "hoburger." I own a heavily modified 535xi E61 wagon, it is "full bolt-on" with upgraded Hexon RR550 turbos, and tons of other stuff, there isn't much that hasn't been modified. A few months ago I blew my motor and while replacing it I decided to execute a few other major conversions and modifications. This build thread will be a cliff-notes version of my previous modifications, covering the highlights, and moving forward primarily focus on the process of getting my wagon put back together with the new engine and new drivetrain.

Personal Background
Aesthetics are important to me but not at the expense of function so I do my best to achieve both, if there is a conflict, function wins. "Clean" is always the goal and I love details; details, details, details. Now that I have a garage I do all of my own work and I really enjoy the challenge of solving problems.

When the wagon is broken, I fix it, when it is running 100%, I look for something to modify, I am sure many of you can relate. I love to retrofit things and "make it work." There is a lot of naysayers in the BMW community and they need to be shown that creativity, experimentation, and calculated risks can achieve great results. I also love having a fast wagon that can run with most "normal" street cars, all while carrying mountain bikes, a dog, groceries, whatever. Function!

Major Conversions
- N54 Rebuild (partial) + Swap
- 6AT-6MT Conversion
- AWD-RWD Conversion
- Full M5 Drivetrain Conversion
- ABS/DSC Pump Relocation (M5 Location)
- Upgraded Fuel System

Wagon Goals
My previous car was an E39 M5; headers, full exhaust, full bolt-on. It was far from the fastest car on the street but when you were behind the wheel rowing gears and listening to the S62 howl you could car less, the driving enjoyment was unparalleled and replicating that experience with my E61 is the main focus. I want to have increased performance, capability, and driving enjoyment without sacrificing functionality or reliability as this is my daily driver.

The N54 has been able to make great power (700+whp) but they don't seem to last long at that level, the 550-600whp is a nice zone where the N54 is at ~80% potential, "used but not abused." Considering I will be RWD traction will be a new variable to consider and it really seems like an uphill battle past 600whp, so 550-600whp makes a lot of sense for longevity and real world performance.

My last dyno was 545awhp so I have a good idea of what the performance feels like and I think it is a good match for weight of the chassis of the E61. YES, I know more power is always better but the clutch, fuel system, and drivetrain were all selected intentionally to offer headroom for that power level. The plan is to have a nice cohesive build where all the hardware is operating at a comfortable level and offers reliable performance which can be extracted on the street without a ton of heroics.

My E61 began life as a 535xi but the most accurate way to describe it when done will be a manual N54 powered E61 M5. M badge loyals will quickly raise their hand or middle finger in disagreement but statistically speaking it is more M5 than not. Aside from the engine I would need to swap in the M5 ABS/DSC pump with it's 2 additional input sensors and swap the front subframe and suspension to a RWD specific unit (535i and M5 use the same setup). Some might say "why not swap the S85?" No thanks, I will take my +200whp and +300rwtq over a stock S85. No doubt S85s are "special" but it would drive me crazy daily driving a car that needs to be above 6,000rpm to make decent power, to each their own and I take torque over revs.

This thread offer some info on my general build but will primarily detail the build with my blown motor and the major projects/conversions that followed.
Day 1 of the build when I took delivery of the new-to-me E61 (September 2013) up to (April 2016) can be seen in the first 30 pages of this thread:


My old E39 M5

New-ish pictures of the E61






Quick Walk around...

Some Exhaust Clips
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Nov 7, 2016
San Diego
A lot of the performance parts on my wagon are off the shelf bolt-ons but this post will cover a few which are bespoke, either made to work or built by yours truly.

Headlights, Taillights, Reverse lights, Cargo lights, Cluster Lights, ALL THE LIGHTS!

My first retrofit with quad projectors and custom U-shaped angel eyes

My second retrofit with quad projectors, angel eye delete, black trim, and frosted fins. Projectors have custom foreground limiters.



Reverse Light:
OEM BMW reverse lights suck, they are super small and you are limited to T10 based bulbs for output. I opted to add a Rigid Industries 6" SR light bar in "flood" optic. 2,200 raw lumens is much more helpful when reversing. :)




Cargo Lights:
I mounted some small and cheap ($1/ea) bolt style LED lights on the underside of my rear hatch. The LEDs have a wide projector beam which is focused enough to offer decent output but wide enough to add light both inside the cargo area and on the perimeter of the bumper which can double as a puddle lamp. In these photos exposure was locked to show how they compare to the oem puddle lamps in the M5 side mirrors.




Gauge Cluster:
Everyone goes for the "M3/M5" style LED mod where you swap the amber LEDs for white ones and paint the needles red but the red needles really impede visibility since they have a black gauge face to use as a background, also the cruise control and redline"rings" on the perimeter of the gauges reflect that white light into your face making it harder to see the gauges and also out the front windshield at night. I went a different route, you could call it the "Audi B5 RS4" style. I wanted red gauges with white markings and white needles, this would offer the best visibility during the day and night. The "rings" were blacked out to now throw any stray light. On the speedo I deleted the inner kph markings to clean up the gauge at night, these are still 100% visible during they day, I simply blocked the backlight for nighttime operation.




They were all the craze with the N54 community a year or so ago. I decided to build my own. Inlet system features a 3" velocity stack welded to a 3"IN-Dual 2.5"OUT Y-pipe, the Vibrant air filter is specifically designed to work with the velocity stack. From the Y-pipe there are 2 silicone 22 degree reducers which connect to 2" piping, piping runs down to 2"-1.75" silicone elbows which sit on the turbo inlets. HPS worm drive clamps hold everything together and there is a PCV bung welded into the rear pipe. I actually built a previous inlet but this is the revised system. I am REALLY happy with how it turned out; performance is great, sound is great, quality is great, and it is one of a kind!





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  • 1Like
Reactions: Cheezy


Nov 7, 2016
San Diego
Not wildly unique but a nice compliment to the intake system. Since my inlets are hot-side and sit right above the manifolds along with my VTT silicone outlet pipe I wanted to better control the thermal separation between the intake tract and exhaust components. My plan was to build my own heat shield but after evaluating the RB Turbo heat shield there was little to improve upon. I simply trimmed the front overhang to clear my VTT outlet and then ceramic coated it (along with my downpipes). I am very pleased with how the fitment and aesthetics came out, I am yet to confirm the improved thermal control but I am sure it helps quite a bit as the heatshield does a nice job wrapping around the manifold and keeping the heat down below.





N54s sound pretty terrible from the factory, especially with Performance exhaust; they are raspy, farty, and are a real ear sore. I went through tons of "custom" mig welded exhaust iterations, I think about 4-5 different configurations before I came to my senses and had a custom single 3" system built. IMO this is one of the best sounding N54 exhausts I have heard. The sound is deep, throaty, unfiltered, yet clean; very little drone and zero rasp. I credit this to the single-pipe design and the skilled fabricator who put it together. In addition I have not heard any N54 exhaust which offers the same amount of off throttle turbo spool, it sounds wicked! I love it! Sometimes I think if I should have gone with a 3.5" system for added flow but then I stop thinking that since mine sounds so good. lol!

System features a custom fabricated merge collector off the AR Design DPs, single 3" piping which runs through a Vibrant flex section, then through a Vibrant "Ultra Quiet" resonator, all the way to the rear where the piping splits through a custom Y-pipe and exits through twin black slash cut tips. I love the way the slash cut matches the angle (and color) of my diffuser, it is subtle and clean.









Nov 7, 2016
San Diego
I seriously love this thing. Did you replace the front knuckles, subframe, oil pan on your RWD swap?
Although it isn't necessary I now running a RWD oil pan, the motor I sourced as the replacement was in an accident and needed a new oil pan, I found a RWD one on eBay. RWD pans are ~8lbs lighter than AWD since they are not reinforced for the front driveshaft.
Front subframe, knuckles, control arms are all AWD. When I pulled the front axles I hacked them up and used the outer CVs to hold the knuckles together with the original spline and collar nut. Down the road I would like to swap the subframe and suspension components but at this moment it would require getting new front KW coilovers so I am going to wait and see how the car runs with the "hybrid AWD" front drivetrain and replace as needed or rather when my wallet recovers from all the conversion. 535i and M5 front suspension designs are identical and the RWD front subframes are aluminum as opposed to the steel AWD subframe, there is some weight to shed there in addition to "proper" suspension geometry but I am honestly curious to see how the hybrid setup does when pushed.
I love this car, amazing build. Much respect to you for doing all of this!
You know I like it, this is the same car I featured on the FB group right?
Correct, this was the banner wagon for a bit.

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Reactions: doublespaces


Nov 9, 2016
I read all of your threads of the other Forums. It is funny, no matter where you post something about your car there is always something new you did. One of the best threads for N54 modding imo.

Concerning blown engine: How much KM/miles did you drive it with the RR550 and what do you think was the reason for the damage? Hyperlean condition reasoned by PI spraying and DI stopping?


Nov 7, 2016
San Diego
Wagon loves you too.
Ur attention to detail puts this wagon on a whole different level! Did u upgrade rods and pistons with the new motor?
No, internals are stock, just low mileage (35k) and some some the front side timing chains, cogs, etc are new. I thought about adding some internal beef but my plan is to run this motor at the 600whp mark so I couldn't justify the added cost of the rods, pins, and pistons. out did yourself . Great thread and build kristap porzingis
As long as you don't call me Varejao. Keep it clean.
I read all of your threads of the other Forums. It is funny, no matter where you post something about your car there is always something new you did. One of the best threads for N54 modding imo.

Concerning blown engine: How much KM/miles did you drive it with the RR550 and what do you think was the reason for the damage? Hyperlean condition reasoned by PI spraying and DI stopping?
Thanks for the kind words! Prost! Glad to know the build threads don't go unappreciated!
My engine had 105,000 miles (~170,000km) but only ran the Hexons for about 5,000 miles before the motor blew and yes, I believe the issue was supplemental fuel system and a misfire. I was running throttle body injection instead of port injection.
Never cared for wagons much but this build is changing that
What's not to like, SUV space sports car pace!
I've been following your build on the other forums since inception, great work wish I had the knowledge you do
Thank you
Nice work Evan. Glad to see ur car coming back together again.
Slowly, very slowly...


Nov 17, 2016
Henderson, NV
I just did a quad projector retro on my car and used info from your hidplanet postings, big props E. Anytime I think I'm cutting a corner with my car work I think about the details on this wagon lol.