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No Power for Jim-More Power for You Edition: El Diablo – 1000-horsepower E39 M5

Kamil Kaluski November 5, 2011 Weekend Edition 10 Comments

This weekend the theme revolves around the fact that our own Jim Brennan sits powerless due to an early New England storm. Rather than make you suffer without power as well, we’re going in the other direction. This weekend is all about LOTS of power.

Before a new model of a car is available for sale, chances are that an internet forum for the said model already exists. Potential future owners discuss options, colors, features, rumors and their plans for the car. Once the cars are available for sale, prices are discussed, followed by questions regarding which engine mods make the most power and which rims look best.

Then there is that one guy, the guy who has been on the forum from the get go, the guy with 20 posts per day. He is that guy, the guy who goes all out and builds a car of epic proportions. No expense is spared on his car, it gets only the best of stuff and is taken to only the best of tuners. The car becomes an instant legend, gains a cult following, and in the process shuts up all the haters. That car was El Diablo, and it was the most powerful M5 ever made.

Details are still a bit sketchy but around 2004 the M5 was delivered to  near Sacramento in two pieces. Piece one was the engine, which has been over-rev’d, with bent valves. Inspection of the found “a crack in one of the cylinder bores so a new block was purchased from BMW…[ ]… The block was fully blue printed and the OEM Alusil coating was cut out of the bores. Then finish machining was completed for the insertion of Darten flanged steel sleeves. This was done to eliminate the concerns with the OEM aluminum cylinder bores.”

Piece two was the rest of the car, which arrived from… Bahrain. The car was originally purchased in U.S., then exported to Bahrain, and then returned to U.S. once again. The sequence of events is still unclear but the car is currently owned by a gentleman named Davis from Chicago and it is at undergoing some tuning. Furthermore, somewhere out there exists a blue twin of this car (this one is black).

The power-train combination was designed to push a 1000-horsepower mark. While entirely possible, I have not seen dyno numbers or video. There is a ton of information the the El Diablo and its twin on the interwebs, and I have not sorted through most of it yet. For the time being, enjoy this engine porn and stay tuned for more information on the car, including current pictures as the car is currently at my friend’s shop getting some work done.

Specs, from BMWcar Magazine, May 2006:


Croy’d and blue-printed block by VAC MotorSports, custom Darten flanged steel sleeves were installed to eliminate the OEM Alusil-coated cylinder bores, by VAC MotorSports, customer Arias 9.5 CR pistons, custom high-tension stainless steel rings, custom Carrillo rods, new head and main bolts, multi-layered head gaskets, fully ported and flow matched cylinder heads, new over-sized stainless steel valves (1 mm greater diameter), new guides, springs, retainers, and keepers, Schrick Cams, intake and exhaust, hand-fitted bearing shells matched from 4 OEM sets, mircro-polished crank, fully-balanced rotating assembly by Rex Hutchinson Racing. During the course of the rebuild all soft items such as water pump, thermostats, belts, hoses, etc were replaced.


Power-coated valve covers and lower plenum, D/A Customer Carbon Fibre intake, D/A Custom Carbon Fibre plenum cover, Vortech D/A Shadowman T1 Blower w/ custom pulley, D/A Custom Ruel Rail, D/A Custom Fuel Injector, a total of 16 injectors operating in this system, D.A Custom Velocity stacks with integrated injector bosses, D/A Custom modified lower plenum, D/A Custom oil separator and crankcase breather system, D/A Custom fully programmable by-pass system, D/A Custom billet lower pulley with Supercharger drive integrated, pre-loaded self-adjusting supercharger belt tensioner, Custom fully programmable AquaMist water injection system, custom water/air heat exchanger, custom liquid charge cooler, relocated oil filter and the power steering reservoir from the left to right side, D/A Custom stainless steel oil transfer manifolds under the motor, Aero Quip lines and fittings, electric fan conversion, Supersprint 4-1 Coated Headers, titanium finish by Embee Performance Coatings, Supersprint high-flow metal catalytic converters, X-pipe and cat-back system, custom exhaust installation to fit new bumper cover, modified piping and re-welded exhaust hangers.


D/A Custom Shadowman DME and system integration software, NGK Iridium Plugs, Ignition Solutions plasma coils, HKS Turbo Timer


Uuc Motorwerks Stage III 6-puck ceramic-metallic lutch, lightweight flywheel , and transmission mounts, Custom Koala Motorsport Driveshaft, and rear differential with 3.15 gears, rear sub frame brace.

  • Spencer G

    so..let me get this straight, the centrifugal blower blows into the intercooler, which is housed in a large box, once the intercooler has had the air passed through it, it pressurizes the entire box, which allows the ITB's to digest the pressurized/intercooled air?

    maybe its just me, but aren't you supposed to have your intercooler where it will get fresh ambient air? as opposed to in the valley of your intake manifold?even though it is A/w…i guess it must have some sort of heat exchanger setup like in roots charged vehicles like 2nd Gen Lightnings….although, he does have water injection, that has to help with intake temps

    what a weird setup, really took me a minute to get it all in

    confused Spencer is confused.

    • The heat exchanger, intercooler, air a liquid-to-air type and not the common front-mounted air-to-air intercooler.

      Compressed air goes out of the supercharger, into the intercooler, and then into the throttle bodies.

      • Spencer G

        i know it is different from the FM A/A kind….but they didn't say anything about the heat exchanger being anywhere…

        i guess what i'm trying to get at is "is the entire carbon fiber box under pressure when under boost?"

        • That is my understanding, yes… but I can verify for sure tomorrow.

    • Van Sarockin

      It's technically elegant to pressurize the whole intake leg – you wind up with a far colder charge. But the technical difficulties of sealing all the joints, and keeping them airtight, is usually a losing game. That's why it's almost never done.

      There's also the much longer intake/exhaust path that's required has its own problems as well. That's probably less of an issue for a Vee engine though.

    • dragon951

      He does mention both the liquid charge cooler that sits atop the engine and a separate water/air heat exchanger which I imagine is mounted elsewhere in the engine bay. I was more confused by the necessity for that system a water injector system on a supercharged car. I imagine they are running it at crazy high boost levels, which would generate a lot of air friction inside the Vortech, but enough to need two methods of cooling? The SSC Aero generates its boost using twin turbochargers and still only uses water to air intercooling. Granted those are much bigger units, but a supercharger shouldn't be generating nearly as much heat.

      • I honestly can't answer that question intelligently, but I'll find out before I do the write up on the whole car. Keep asking questions.

      • WillysWonka

        Water/Methanol injector systems do more than just cool the intake charge. They also increase the effective octane and let you run much more aggressive timing.

      • Spencer G

        ^that (@WillysWonka)

        I really don't understand why he used a SC in the first place….centrifugal units are like turbo's without the efficiency to me…maybe space was a factor?

  • dculberson

    The guys that actually build the epic cars don't have time to make 20 forum posts a day! Maybe if it's a checkbook build, but not a self build.