The New Mexico Chapter of the BMW CCA sponsored a “Garage Day” hosted by Board Member Jim Levandoski on Saturday, August 14, 2021. Weather was nice for the outing which started with a meetup at the Railrunner station on US 550 in Bernalillo. Participants gathered with the inevitable discussions of BMW’s. A highlight was the reveal of BMW CCA member Rob Anthony’s well-presented Z3. Eventually, the group caravanned on a nice drive through the beautiful backroads around the Village of Placitas to Jim’s house.
The group gathered in Jim’s garage for an interesting and informative presentation on the extensive modifications made over a couple decades to his BMW E39 540 with a six speed manual transmission. Of particular interest was his addition of a nitrous oxide (NOS) controller and injectors which increased the engine’s power output by allowing fuel to be burned at a higher-than-normal rate. He noted that there have not been any signs of unusual wear due to the increased horsepower provided by the NOS system.
Some of his mods required dropping the front subframe, which he has done three times over the years! There have also been substantial engine software mods, some requiring custom circuit boards designed and built by Jim. Jim’s skills at powder coating were evident in the impeccable engine bay, but unfortunately, time did not allow for a demonstration of his powder coating technique.
Jim’s engine modifications to the 540 include: NOS progressive 2 stage controller with port injection and 10 injectors, Snow’s Performance methanol/water injection, Dinan Stage 5 engine software, VAC underdrive pulleys, Dinan carbon fiber cold air intake system, Dinan throttle body and larger mass air flow sensor (MAF), M62 non-TU performance intake manifold with larger intake runners, NGK iridium plugs, electric cooling fan with PWM (pulse width modulation) controller, and a modified clutch delay valve (CDV).
His drivetrain and brake mods include: Dinan front strut tower brace, Koni FSD’s and H&R Springs, BAV brass caliper bushings, M5 3.15 limited slip differential, M5 rear traction bars, Eibach sway bars front & rear, Energy Suspension polyurethane sway bar bushings, Rogue Engineering transmission mounts, StopTech brake lines front & rear, Axxis Deluxe Plus pads front & rear, and Rogue “Octane” short shift kit with WSR (weighted selector rod).
Other mods include: M5 gauge cluster rings, M5 (trunk) lip spoiler, M5 mirrors and switches, leather Z weighted shift knob, powder coated calipers, valve covers, and timing covers, DDE enhanced angel eyes with smoked lenses, euro storage tray, Passport 8500 X50 and Escort ZR3 laser jammer, 25% tinted windows, XPEL paint protectant film on the headlights, and a LoJack stolen vehicle recovery system.
Jim’s current project was also on display – a spectacular ’33 Factory Five Racing Hot Rod build in progress. It has a tube frame and a gel coat fiberglass body. He has installed a Corvette LS3 engine and a 4L65E Chevrolet transmission with a Ford Racing 3.55 limited slip differential and independent rear suspension. He has also installed AC, heater, power windows, electric power steering and 4 wheel disc brakes. It has approximately 440HP and should weigh about 2400 lbs.
The build appears substantially complete with the exception of the body work which Jim said was not his favorite part of the project. He installed and reinstalled the doors at least six times! Of course, the panel gaps are now perfect. Jim still has a lot of sanding and priming to do. He plans on painting his hotrod himself.
Following Jim’s presentation, the Chapter hosted lunch at the picturesque Placitas Café.
Photos by Phil Undercuffler
Photos by Ron Costell