|Pros:||Smoother, quicker, new hard-edged sound|
|Cons:||So-so documentation, four days downtime|
|Cost:||$399 from Turner Motorsport|
There may be little that the participants in the web’s BMW bulletin boards agree on, but one product which seems to receive almost unanimous approval is Jim Conforti’s line of Landshark chips and OBDII programs, so I decided to give Jim’s reprogram a try on my M Roadster. Jim’s Bonneville Motor Werkes doesn’t deal directly with the public, but he has appointed several national retailers to handle his products. Because of their excellent web page, I decided to order from Turner Motorsport. Though I could have ordered on line, I chose to call their 800 number so I could ask some questions about the process. The idea of sending my expensive DME off to be tinkered with filled me with dread! The customer representative I spoke to was very helpful and I was happy with the answers I received, so I placed my order. Two days later I received my shipping kit; DME removal instructions, an upgrade checklist, a shipping label and a static-free bag. Note that the DME is shipped direct to Jim in Utah not to Turner Motorsport in Massachusetts. When I placed my order, I was told to insure my shipment for the replacement value of the DME, $1200, but the shipping documents made no mention of this. Also, Turner’s web site says that shipments must arrive in Utah on Tuesday so that Jim can reprogram Tuesday night and return ship on Wednesday. This restriction was not mentioned either. Considering that your car won’t run until you get the DME back, I think that both these considerations should be clearly stated in the documents which accompany the shipping kit.
The removal instructions provided were, frankly, not very impressive; a simple line drawing and three brief steps of instruction. Fortunately, the job is relatively easy and I was able to remove the DME in minutes. The only hangup was a two prong plug just behind the DME, not mentioned in the instruction sheet, which needed to be unplugged before I could get enough slack in the wiring harness to fully remove the DME from it’s enclosure. The process is as follows:
Locate DME enclosure just in front of the passenger side fire wall Loosen cover by unscrewing three cross point screws.
Remove cover, then unplug small two prong connector behind DME Carefully lift wiring harness high enough to lift DME
Remove DME completely from enclosure Extend metal lock tab and remove connector
Once the connector is removed from the side of the DME, place the DME in the provided static free bag and prepare for shipment. The DME should be accompanied by your copy of the sales receipt and the completed upgrade checklist. The DME is well protected by it’s metal enclosure so only minimal padding is required for safe shipment. I sent my overnight shipment out on Monday and, as promised, received it back on Thursday. Installation is just the opposite of the removal, and the car fired up at the first turn if the key. Whew!! My first brief drive, down to the corner and back, immediately impressed me with the new hard-edged authority of the engine sound. After rechecking that the wiring harness was properly installed, I replaced and tightened the cover on the DME enclosure, then took the car out for a longer run.
Once the engine was thoroughly warmed up, I let it fly on a local back road. Response was immediate, almost as if the accelerator pedal was wired direct to the tach. Crisp, clean response with no flat spots or hesitations right up to the new 7000 rpm limit. In deference to my life and my license I didn’t check the top speed limiter, but I’m sure the M-ster will now come close to pegging its 160 mph speedometer. Popping smooth shifts is child’s play because the revs drop off more readily when the accelerator is released and, if you indulge, heel and toeing is much easier because the engine revs up so much more freely with the clutch disengaged. And all the while this electric wail from engine! I can’t swear it’s really quicker, but who cares? It feels positively supercharged. The car is so much more fun to drive that it’s hard to understand why BMW doesn’t tune it this way to begin with. After all of my fears, the process turned out to be quite painless and the result is worth far more than the cost. The only downside I can see is the incomplete documentation…and, of course, you can’t drive your bimmer for four days. Do it!!
UPDATE: April 15, 2000
Just two days after this article was first published on the MZ3.Net, I received an e-mail from a reader, Tom Leath, to let me know that Turner Motorsport is now performing the reprogramming at their facility and are promising that your DME will be returned on the same day it is received. The result is a three day turnaround rather than the four days I mentioned in my original article. Tom later let me know that he had sent his DME to Turner and that it was returned in three days, as promised. More recently, Turner has announced the May release of Jim Conforti’s “Shark Injector,” a handheld reprogramming device which will permit late model Bimmer owners to reprogram their own cars without removing the DME, and may be used again later to reload the performance reprogram if your dealer should return your DME to the factory program. Amazingly, this device will cost the same as the reprogram, $399. This thing sounds like the real deal! Check the Turner Motorsport web page for information and ordering instructions.