Farewell, Project 46

Project 46 is an ongoing series that demonstrates common fixes and preventative maintenance tips, as performed on our own E46 330Ci.

After almost three years and 20,000 kilometres, it’s time to bid farewell to our beloved BMW E46 330Ci M Sport project car.

Our original intentions were to use the vehicle as a platform to showcase a wide variety of the products we offer on the Clickable webstore, as well as subtly improving and modifying the car to create a BMW that is practical, but also a little bit more special than most. We also wanted to document the entire process to show how easy the majority of the jobs are, and why we recommend some of them as part of good preventative maintenance. We believe we’ve achieved those objectives, and so it’s time to let a new owner enjoy the car.

It’s been over a year since our last update on the 330Ci, with the project taking a back seat to a number of changes that we were implementing behind the scenes at Clickable -- the biggest being a move into our new, larger Distribution Centre. But before the move began, we bought in a fresh set of coilovers from AP Sport Suspension in Germany to fit to the 330Ci in order to evaluate the fit, finish, and overall performance of the product. We spent months testing the ride and handling of the APs to ensure the quality was as good as we, and our customers, demand them to be.

One area in particular where car manufacturers try to save some money is on shock absorbers. Regardless of the mileage, upgrading to good quality shocks can make a world of difference to the way the car performs. As with most suspension components, once the ageing original shocks fall out of their efficiency range, they place greater stress on other parts, accelerating the rate of wear and further impacting how the vehicle drives. With almost 190,000km on the original shocks, the difference after the AP coilovers were fitted surprised even us. It’s fair to say that these coilovers exceeded our own high standards and expectations.

To give these coilovers the most thorough test possible, we used the car on a daily basis around Melbourne’s deteriorating streets. We’ve also given them a good run down some trying country backroads down the Mornington Peninsula and along The Great Ocean Road on weekends, with a touch of light towing thrown in for good measure. Although the damping rates are technically harder than the originals, their capabilities are far superior to the original shock absorbers fitted by BMW, leaving us with coilovers that improve literally every aspect of ride and handling.

The coilovers were on the 330 for a few months of testing before we made the easy decision to begin offering AP Sport Suspension, and since we launched the new line the feedback from customers has been exceptionally positive. We’re really pleased with the feedback, particularly as AP Sport Suspension is still a relatively unknown brand in Australia.

We first announced Project 46 back in August of 2014, and the very first thing to be swapped out was the pretty horrible cabin microfilter, and we were able to identify a few issues that we wanted to investigate further. In the second post, we chased down an erratic idle, changed the engine mounts, performed an oil service, and gave the leather some attention. From there, we tackled one of the most common E46 problems: the front lower control arms -- and documented the massive difference this simple change can make. We then chased down an oil leak that had been annoying us, and picked up a set of Hankook tyres. Project 46 then had a Superchips tune to get the most from the motor, before we had the wheels refurbished in a darker metallic greyIn the previous instalment, we fitted some parts to freshen up the cooling system, performed an oil change, and had some main body panels resprayed. Finally, we fitted the AP Sport Suspension coilover kit, and gave the car a detail with Autoglym's High Definition Cleanser and High Definition Wax Kit.

The result is we now have a BMW that looks, rides, and handles better than the $100,000 vehicle that rolled out of the showroom in 2003. We’ve spent $7,395 making Project 46 the car that it is today, but only $1819 was actually spent on mechanical maintenance and essential repairs (excluding $925 on tyres). When that cost is amortised over the long term, it’s a small and worthwhile investment for a vehicle that will provide years of reliable and enjoyable motoring to its future caretakers.

We’ve had such a huge response from Project 46 at every point, and it’s been a real pleasure to collaborate with local businesses to bring the car to the level it is today. For those that follow us on Instagram, you will have already seen a sneak peek at our newest project car which we’ll be introducing in the coming months. For the moment though, it’s farewell and thanks to Project 46. The 330Ci that showed us just how easy it is to own a safe, comfortable, and reliable BMW for not a lot of money.


New Mechanical Repairs: Nil

New Non-Essentials: 
AP Coilover Kit - $1199
Autoglym High Definition Cleanser - $60
Autoglym High Defnision Wax Kit - $95

Total Cost of Additions: $1354
Total Cost To Date: $7395

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