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Old 10-10-2013, 09:33 PM
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Landover, MD
Posts: 20
downeaster1 is on a distinguished road
Rock Crawler Build - E53 3.0L

Greetings All,
I'm fairly new to xoutpost, but am a long time veteran of Bimmerforums. I work at a dealership in MD and we got an E53 on trade in a few months ago. I picked it up dirt cheap as a beater and decided to start building it up as a luxo-rock crawler.

Now, I can't tell you how many times I've seen people say "its not an off-road vehicle". This I am well aware of (in fact, i believe it says not to take it off road in the owners manual even). My figure is that E36's arn't supposed to be swapped with LS1's, but people do it anyway, so why the heck not.

I'll take some pictures soon, but I'm busy moving to a house at the moment from my crappy apartment.

So far I've retrofitted a european dual oil pickup and beefed up suspension components. I have a front and rear undercage on order (to protect engine/VTG components and rear diff, etc). Next on the list is to finish the water proofing at the bottom of the engine compartment and to set up the roof lights and snorkel.

I am sorry for the purists who may not agree, but it should be one hell of a ride when complete.


On the right:

Last edited by downeaster1; 10-10-2013 at 09:44 PM.
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Old 10-10-2013, 09:40 PM
X5SND's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Winnipeg, Mb
Posts: 1,908
X5SND is on a distinguished road
Now thats just not nice....you simply can't make a post like this and not include detailed specs or pics!!!
2004 X5 3.0i

Mod list: Currently Longer than the maximum allowed characters that can be typed here...

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Old 10-10-2013, 09:49 PM
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Landover, MD
Posts: 20
downeaster1 is on a distinguished road
I would post more pictures but nothing else is really cosmetic! Its mostly stock except for the things listed above. I've been off roading with it about 15-20 times this past summer and its had no issue at all. I had an oil light come on when going up a ~55% grade but I installed the dual oil pickup about two weeks after. I did remove the mechanical fan due to that clutch being notorious for failing (blew up 3 times on the E36). So with a different relay for the electrical fan and some water wetter in the coolant, she has no problems staying cool. I'm headed over to land rover this weekend to see if I can source a few parts so stay tuned
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Old 10-10-2013, 09:55 PM
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Landover, MD
Posts: 20
downeaster1 is on a distinguished road
Here are two videos from another member. I believe his is stock though:

BMW X5 off road by the water - YouTube

BMW X5 off road by the water - YouTube
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Old 10-10-2013, 10:57 PM
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Tonawanda,NY
Posts: 364
Dark5yde is on a distinguished road
I have been wanting to model mine after FMU's X5. I just have to get them to make some spacers for non-airride suspensions.
03' X5 3.0i auto (9/03)
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Old 10-10-2013, 11:14 PM
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: CA
Posts: 60
bpowa is on a distinguished road
I admit the x looks bad ass with a slight lift and tires..

But that is all it is good for for offroading.. and they have its fair issues on regular street driving, with parts wearing out..

Parts break when offroading even the beefed up parts..

There are so many other options for building a 4x4 with less cost..

Good Luck on the build.. Post pics with progress,,
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Old 10-11-2013, 01:34 AM
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 66
brptrailrider is on a distinguished road
1. 17" wheels
2. 265/70/17 Falken WildPeak A/T (with heavy trimming it should fit the stock spare location by my measurements)
3. Rebuild front and rear diff with high lockup LSD (www.diffsonline.com) email with your intentions and they will make recommendations, probably clutch pack rear from a 188mm M3 and helical front LSD. IIRC they quoted me $3k a couple years ago.
4. Transfer case: ??? Range Rover Sport locking transfer case (modified and machined to Fit plus actuating hardware) this is where I'm stumped
5. Rig some quick disconnect roll bar links
6. Radiator protection (very low and mostly protected by plastic at the bottom)
7. Full set of skid plates
8. Cage and harnesses (this should probably be first)
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Old 10-11-2013, 04:28 AM
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Spokane, WA
Posts: 213
mike_dmt is on a distinguished road
^ So you're what, like $12-15k plus purchase price of the vehicle into an "Off Road Vehicle" that was never meant to go "Off Road"?

And an extremely fragile one at that. The OP stated he bought his ride dirt cheap. Great. After the initial investment, mods, and everything else, why not get something that was somewhat designed to do what you want?

Granted, I love my E53. Would I go to ANY lengths to make it a crawler or trailbuster? NEVER.

These rigs we're never intended to see any sort of heavy use. Hence the acronym SAV.

Yeah, I've seen the ones with the strut spacers and lifts to fit tires and rims. Big deal.

I would bet they wear every single front end part much faster than a stock one it's unbelievable. The front CV axles hardly hold up just driving on cement and asphalt, now you want to jack it up, and go "Off Road".

Simply put. It's the wrong vehicle to drop a considerable amount of money on to go play in the sticks.

Just go get a mid 2000's Wrangler or something equivalent and save yourself the headache, money and frustration. Unless that's your end goal. Which is what we as BMW owners do already......

Wait,,,, is that the goal? Aw crap, then kudos, you're on your way.
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Old 10-11-2013, 09:49 AM
epdarks's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Mpls, MN
Posts: 883
epdarks is on a distinguished road
Forget the purists. There is no harm in hacking up a 3.0. I can't wait to see this build progress.
2002 X5 4.6is - Titanium Silver / Black Alcantara - Dinan Stage 2 - Bilstein/Eibach - Brembo BBK ----SOLD---
1993 318i - Brilliantrot / Tan - bone stock daily driver
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Old 10-11-2013, 11:58 AM
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 66
brptrailrider is on a distinguished road
The intent is not a SCORE Prerunner or Dakar racer. More like Jack of all trades but master of none. Mine is a daily driver, canyon carver, road trip, ski trip, towing, and dirtbike recovery vehicle. I bought it to replace a pickup truck (F150), car (325 wagon) and sports car (RX-8) and so far it is doing a great job except for a lot of tire slip in the loose stuff and snow.

19" wheels made for a crappy ride on the street and the stock 17's look like cheesy but are way better. They were $300 on Craigslist with brand new Continental all season tires. Now it is time for new tires before ski season starts and I'm leaning toward the WildPeak. The front, rear, and center lsd/lockers are not necessary unless spending lots of time slipping tires because the brakes get really hot and the brakes kicking in is annoying. Protecting the radiator is the only other thing necessary in my plan.

So mike_DMT, I have to ask, if you are just driving your X5 on paved roads then why didn't you save some money and just get a 528i wagon? On paved roads it does everything better than the X5, (economy, handling, performance, reliability).
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