|Pros:||Factory appearance,improved performance,great sound|
|Cons:||Slightly tricky installation|
|Cost:||$449 plus shipping from Eurosport High Performance|
Publishing product reviews on the MZ3.Net is beginning to take on a life of its own! After I posted a complimentary article on Jim Conforti’s OBDII Performance Reprogram I received an e-mail from Josh MacMurray, head man at Eurosport High Performance in Salt Lake City. Eurosport is one of Conforti’s two national distributors, and Josh invited me to review Jim’s new Shark Air Intake System. I don’t need much prompting to try out the latest wrinkle on my M Roadster, and since I had already reviewed the ECIS Evolution Air Intake System I was anxious to see if the Shark Intake lives up to the great comments which have been appearing on the BMW bulletin boards. Eurosport arranged to ship me the appropriate system for my M Roadster, and the system arrived several days later carefully packed in styrofoam pellets with individual components of the system sealed in foil or plastic envelopes. Very neat!
The intake system consists of a molded plastic shield, an intake pipe with O-ring and clamps, an ITG Maxogen foam intake filter with a spray can of retention oil, plus all of the clamps, seals and fasteners required to complete the installation. The included instruction sheet is a model of clarity and features photos of critical steps in the removal of the stock air box and the installation of the Shark system. My first installation attempt ended almost before it began when I got too muscular with one of the intake pipe clamps and broke it off of the pipe. I e-mailed Eurosport and they responded immediately, overnighting a replacement intake pipe assembly. Comforting to know they’re ready to help out even the most ham handed! Josh MacMurray tells me that they have experienced about a three percent breakage rate for this part, a rate which they consider much too high, and have redesigned the clamp attachment point. The redesigned intake pipe should be available by the time this article is posted.
Given the new pipe, I completed the installation. Casual mechanics should have no problem with this 30-45 minute procedure as long as they pay attention to step 10 of the instructions which says in part; “Install the shield. Sounds simple, but it will require a little patience and wiggle technique.” Indeed!! If I hadn’t been forewarned, I might well have thought they sent me the wrong shield. But by applying “a little patience and wiggle technique” the shield did slip into place as promised. Once in place, the shield is fastened to existing mounting points, no drilling or fabrication required. I got a little nervous when the install was complete and I discovered that I had a few small parts left over, but a quick review of the instructions revealed that Conforti includes parts necessary for all versions of the six cylinder Z3, which vary in detail model to model.
Jim C has obviously gone to a lot of trouble to design a system which maintains a factory appearance under the hood. The black plastic intake pipe attaches to the mass air sensor with factory-like spring clamps and the black shield, with its seal, looks very much like the electronics bay next to the firewall on the right side of the engine compartment. The hose clamp which secures the ITG filter to the intake pipe appears to be identical to the BMW clamp which secures the rubber air duct to the back of the mass air sensor, and the ITG filter itself has a really businesslike look with black foam filter and aluminum trumpet. Very attractive! Not to enter into any ITG vs. K&N controversies, but a non-automotive friend of mine thought my own K&N looked like a pink lampshade. I’ve been reading posts on the BMW bulletin boards from lots of K&N owners who are switching to ITG just to improve under hood cosmetics. Additionally, the ITG is claimed to provide superior filtration ability, especially of harmful particles in the 10 to 20 micron range, and exceptional dust load up tolerance; the ability to absorb large amounts of dust without reducing air flow capacity
Road test time! On a brisk run on local farm roads my butt dyno senses a definite performance improvement, particularly at higher RPMs, accompanied by a subtle shriek approaching redline. Though I don’t have access to a dyno, several dyno runs on late model M3s equipped with the Shark Intake have appeared on the net. Eurosport provides a dyno sheet in Adobe Acrobat format, but to save time here’s the Eurosport Dyno Run as a .jpg file. Boston Performance Group, Inc. has also posted a comprehensive E36 Intake Shootout on their web site, including dyno runs, and both sources validate my butt dyno impressions (Editors Note: Web link removed, web page was no longer valid). If you’re buying the Shark Intake, seriously consider getting Jim C’s OBDII Performance Reprogram at the same time. The Conforti reprogram is great value and is optimized for use with the Shark Intake. The combination is my candidate for leading bang-for-the-buck performance enhancement for your Z3.